Some buyers are getting creative when low inventory levels threaten to crush their home-buying dreams: They’re writing letters to homeowners, asking if they’d be interested in selling.
That’s what Will and Jung O’Donnell did last year.
After unsuccessfully searching for a home in San Francisco for months, they switched real-estate agents. Their new agent helped them find listings that expired years ago — including the one they’d eventually buy. The agent then presented the owner with a letter of interest from the couple.
The O’Donnells are now happily living in their Lower Pacific Heights home.
Hey, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know, right?
But for those on the other side of the transaction, the homeowners, getting an unsolicited offer for your home can feel a little strange. Maybe even a bit creepy.
“Nine out of 10 [homeowners] will say ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” said Brendon DeSimone, real-estate expert for the website Zillow, and an agent licensed in California and New York.
If the home was on the market a couple of years ago, then removed, many times the homeowner is on to plan B; maybe they’ve built an addition to create the space they needed or they overcame an objection they once had about the home, DeSimone said.
But sometimes they’re still interested in selling the property. Perhaps they decided to rent out the place instead for a while, but really don’t want to be a landlord. Or maybe they weren’t willing to part with their home at post-housing crash prices, but would be satisfied with their return now.
Granted, this strategy isn’t popular everywhere. But in places where the inventory of desirable homes is tight or for highly sought-after properties, it isn’t all that unusual, real-estate agents say.
Alyssa Hellman, who lives in a historic condominium building in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D. C., gets letters from people interested in buying her home every few months. “Maybe even once a month, when the market is active,” said Hellman, a real-estate agent with Long and Foster Real Estate, based in Arlington, Va. Apartments in the building — and especially units with certain layouts in the building — are highly sought after, she said.