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  #1  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:37 AM
bytheway bytheway is offline
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Letter asking to buy your house (that's not listed) - what the heck?

Today we received a letter that was short and to the point - "We are looking to buy a house and came across yours. Please call us." They gave their name and phone number. The return address is across town (40 minutes away).

This letter really baffled us:

1. Our house is not listed for sale

2. Our house has little curb appeal (but is in a desirable neighborhood)

3. Their name is completely unfamiliar to us

My first inclination was to ignore the letter, since we like where we live. Then I got to thinking, what harm could there be to call and give a ridiculously high price? Say, 1.5 times market value?

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:43 AM
chela chela is offline
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Well that's a little forward on their part, I'd call and ask what their motivation is for coldcalling you.

But, I was thinking of doing the same thing! There is a small wooded vacant lot that was listed last year but it didn't sell. I looked up the property tax records and it is behind in tax paymnets, I was thinking of contacting the owner and asking if he still wanted to sell.
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:46 AM
Quartz Quartz is online now
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It can be sort of a scam. They'll offer you a very low price, then knock that price down further.
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:55 AM
bytheway bytheway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
It can be sort of a scam. They'll offer you a very low price, then knock that price down further.
Maybe, but they can't force me to sell.

However, I am concerned there may be other potential scams I am not aware of.
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  #5  
Old 05-14-2009, 06:05 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is online now
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It'll be a real-estate agent touting up business.
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  #6  
Old 05-14-2009, 06:28 AM
delphica delphica is offline
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I got one a while back, it was handwritten on a kitten notecard, so I am assuming it is not a real estate agent (but maybe).

My mother told me this was once a more common strategy to find a house. If a person wanted to live in a particular neighborhood - maybe for work, or to get into a particular school district, they would go pull the addresses off the public tax rolls (now there's probably a way of doing it on the internet) and send out a large mailing of form letters. The chief hope is that one of the recipients is already considering putting the house on the market, and then the letter-sender will be able to get a jump on the process. I suppose it could be a benefit for the seller as well, if a fair price is accepted, they don't need to bother with listing and showing the house.

I still found it a little intrusive, though.
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  #7  
Old 05-14-2009, 06:42 AM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delphica View Post
My mother told me this was once a more common strategy to find a house.
I think this is it. I'm looking to buy a house and my father keeps telling me to do just that, go make a bunch of letters and leave them on the doors. I always thought he was strange, but I guess it was more common then I thought.
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  #8  
Old 05-14-2009, 07:03 AM
Hakuna Matata Hakuna Matata is offline
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Originally Posted by kambuckta View Post
It'll be a real-estate agent touting up business.
I would agree. I get something similar to this occasionally for a piece of property I own and occasionally for my house. It 'might' be a person looking to buy your home, but I doubt it.
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  #9  
Old 05-14-2009, 07:13 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Short answer: Ask them what they will give you for it, then go into a real estate office and see what houses in your neighborhood have sold for lately.

Sometimes people try to flip houses: Buy low and sell high in a very short period of time. NEVER accept an offer without getting comps.
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  #10  
Old 05-14-2009, 07:41 AM
StGermain StGermain is offline
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When I bought my first house, I'd been looking for a long time for a small starter house. Finally, as my realtor and I were driving around, I saw one that seemed perfect. Last house on a dead end street, big pasture beside it (I was hoping to rent for my horse), almost an acre lot. My realtor got out and knocked on th edoor and asked the people if they were interested in selling. They asked for 1/2 hour to tidy up and let me look at it, named a fair price, and I bought it. If you see what you want, it never hurts to ask.

StG
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  #11  
Old 05-14-2009, 08:14 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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We received an offer from a developer years ago. There are four properties on our corner that the wanted to incorporate into the golf course and/or subdivision they wanted to build next door. We would have taken it if they would have offered a decent figure, but they didn't. Then we got with the tree people and had the forest designated as forest preserve. I think that will help our property value in the long run.
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  #12  
Old 05-14-2009, 09:56 AM
Jodi Jodi is offline
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I can vouch that it's not necessarily a scam. I found a neighborhood in my town that I was really interested in but no homes were for sale, so my real estate agent did just that: Made up post cards that said "I have a client looking to buy in your neighborhood; would you be interested in selling?" I had heard of this before and I suggested it; she said she had no problem doing so but in her experience it rarely worked.

Well, she was right. We never got any response from anyone and I am in the process of buying a house in a different neighborhood. I really like the house I'm buying so I think it worked out for the best for me. But I know these things aren't necessarily scams because I just did it myself.
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  #13  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:25 AM
Claire Beauchamp Claire Beauchamp is offline
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It can also be from someone who considers your house a tear-down and really wants to buy it for the lot/location, then they'll build to suit. Could be a developer or an individual.
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  #14  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:30 AM
zagloba zagloba is offline
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Given current conditions, they're probably hoping to find someone who's about to go into default.
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  #15  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:34 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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I'm floored that people's first reaction would be "scam or real estate agent". I know several people who found their home this way. It is quite common here in Atlanta.
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  #16  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:40 AM
Swallowed My Cellphone Swallowed My Cellphone is offline
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We got a similar hand-written note, but in our case, asking to rent an apartment starting in June or July. I think anyone in our neighborhood who had two doorbells on their house (therefore, two separate units) got the same note.
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  #17  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:41 AM
neuroman neuroman is offline
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I had never heard of this practice and also probably would have assumed scam. Glad to get an education on the subject.
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  #18  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:57 AM
Gus Gusterson Gus Gusterson is offline
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We live in a very desirable neighborhood in a suburb of Boston. We were about to resort to this approach when we sold our last house and couldn't find anything we liked and nothing on this neighborhood was for sale. Luckily something came on the market at just the right time.

One of our neighbors has a beautiful, old Victorian. She has a steady stream of people ringing her doorbell making offers on her house. She has turned them all down, even though some of the offers were outrageously high. When she finally sells, there will be a hell of a bidding war.
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  #19  
Old 05-14-2009, 01:42 PM
bytheway bytheway is offline
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Thanks everyone for sharing your opinions.

I suppose the letter is probably legitimate, since several of you have had similar experiences.

When the time comes to look for a new house, maybe I'll try this tactic!

My over-active imagination came up with more sinister possibilities for the inquiry - dead body buried in the backyard by the previous renters, money hidden under the floorboards, that kind of thing.

And as a totally off-the-wall thought, I also recall reading a sci-fi story where travellers from the future insist on renting a specific house because of the terrific view it would have of the imminent nuclear explosion...

I'd better stop thinking about this.
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  #20  
Old 05-14-2009, 02:59 PM
gigi gigi is offline
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This sounds like the scene in Enough - "My wife likes your house so I'd like to buy it." "It's not for sale." "Here's my price" - slips discreet note with unimaginable number on it. "Let me just call the moving truck and I'll be out of your way."
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  #21  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:33 PM
Caught@Work Caught@Work is offline
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You call them, they come over to check out the house (make sure it's OK on the inside, no holes in the walls, state of carpet, paint, etc), scope out all of your stuff, check the backyard for access and how secure the backdoor is, wait for you to go to work one day and BAM! all your stuff is gone.
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  #22  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:40 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labrador Deceiver View Post
I'm floored that people's first reaction would be "scam or real estate agent". I know several people who found their home this way. It is quite common here in Atlanta.
Legitimate real estate agents send letters like that all the time here. First, they could get the listing, second, they could probably get a better price with a buyer available and not lots of competition. I got a lot more when the market was hot than recently, though.
I'm surprised it works. Moving is a lot of work, and I certainly wouldn't want to due to some random letter.
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  #23  
Old 05-14-2009, 07:13 PM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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One of the tennets of those late night, get rich infomercials for real estate, could be in part due to your #2 reason in the OP. People ("investors") typically send out cold calls/letters for undesireable houses, or houses behind in payments. Sometimes these things are public record (behind payments) in the newspaper, and aspiring Donald Trumps will send out the letters.

Have you defaulted on a payment recently? Are you in foreclosure?
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  #24  
Old 05-14-2009, 08:19 PM
bytheway bytheway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ParentalAdvisory View Post
One of the tennets of those late night, get rich infomercials for real estate, could be in part due to your #2 reason in the OP. People ("investors") typically send out cold calls/letters for undesireable houses, or houses behind in payments. Sometimes these things are public record (behind payments) in the newspaper, and aspiring Donald Trumps will send out the letters.

Have you defaulted on a payment recently? Are you in foreclosure?
Mortgage payments are on auto-pay, & latest quarterly statement from lender did not show a problem, so everything related to the mortgage should be OK. We're not in foreclosure either.

The reason our house has little curb appeal is because you cannot see most of the house from the street, just a large tree and the car port. Our house is far from the shabbiest on the street (maybe slightly less than average).

There is in fact a tear-down on the market several houses down the block.
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  #25  
Old 05-14-2009, 08:25 PM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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Gotcha...
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  #26  
Old 05-15-2009, 06:11 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is online now
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My Mum sold her house like this. One day a real estate agent knocks on the door,

"I have a buyer for your house."
"I'm not interested in selling it."
"He will give a good price."
"I don't care, goodbye."

A week later a signed contract for the house was in the post. All that was required was for Mum to sign on the dotted line. The price was ten times what she'd bought the house for ten years earlier. She added another 20% on top of their offer and signed. They accepted the counter offer and the deal was done. She really didn't want to move, which put her in a good bargaining position, ultimately it was a very good deal for her.

It turned out it the purchaser was a developer who was in the process of buying out the entire block. I gather that he didn't get all the houses he wanted and so his development never went ahead. My Mum's old house is still standing, fifteen years later.
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  #27  
Old 05-15-2009, 06:35 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delphica View Post
I got one a while back, it was handwritten on a kitten notecard, so I am assuming it is not a real estate agent (but maybe).
Check that handwritten note-was it really handwritten, or just printed to look that way? Did it describe the house in any way, or could it apply to any house in the neighborhood?
There are businesses out there that will leave these "personalized" notes at every home in the neighborhood, looking to find those who don't know what their home is worth and are hard up for cash. It's the real estate equivalence of spam.
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  #28  
Old 05-15-2009, 06:38 AM
HongKongFooey HongKongFooey is offline
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I live near a school and a playground in a neighbourhood where a lot of houses are going up. We get letters like this all the time both from interested homebuyers and from real estate agents. The agents usually include their business card or write the letter on stationery that includes their information. Actually, with agents they usually just come to the door and ask directly. As more homes get built we've received fewer of these but it's been fairly common in the past few years around here. It did throw me a bit the first time it happened though.
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  #29  
Old 05-15-2009, 07:44 AM
Princhester Princhester is online now
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I live in a desirable street (if I do say so myself!). We get a letter every couple of weeks like this.
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  #30  
Old 05-15-2009, 08:20 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I'm surprised it works. Moving is a lot of work, and I certainly wouldn't want to due to some random letter.
What does that mean? People move because they sold their house, not because they received a letter in the mail.

By the way, legitimate real estate agents do not send out letters that way "We are interested in buying your house." They send out letters that say "Are you interested in selling your house?"

Last edited by Labrador Deceiver; 05-15-2009 at 08:22 AM..
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  #31  
Old 05-15-2009, 05:25 PM
Covered_In_Bees! Covered_In_Bees! is offline
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The people offering to buy your house probably have tracked buried treasure of some sort to your property and figured they'd still come out ahead if they had to buy your house to get to the treasure.

Better start digging up your yards and maybe checking inbetween the walls for any kind of goodies.

Do report back and lemme know what you find. Maybe I can take it off your hands if it's just an old looking piece of junk statue or something.
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  #32  
Old 05-15-2009, 07:44 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
I live in a desirable street (if I do say so myself!). We get a letter every couple of weeks like this.
Ditto. I got one yesterday and my average would also be about one a fortnight. Most are from real estate agents. Several have been from private, would-be buyers. There's nothing sinister about them.
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  #33  
Old 05-16-2009, 12:31 AM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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I owned some un developed land at one time. Several times I got a letter from a guy in So Cal saying repersented a client who wanted to purchase land in the are and if interested please return the inclosed card. I thought what the heck and sent the card. He made me an offer of $25000. the county apprased the property at $29,000 under prop 13. A year later I sold the land for $350,000. Until I sold the land I always returned his cards with "You have got to be kidding."
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