A buyer interested in purchasing home in your area - unsolicited mail

I received a flyer in my mailbox, in an envelope that was not stamped, indicating it was not mailed, from a local Real estate company stating that they had a customer who was interested in purchasing a house in my neighbourhood. It also stated that the “client’s timing is flexible and he can offer a closing date that is suitable for your needs”.

I am wondering if this is a legit way people go about purchasing a home, or if this is some sort of scam (could only really think of 1 way it could be - have a showing and they steal all of your stuff - however the collective brain power of SDMB could perhaps think of more), or just a marketing ploy for the Realtor to find out who might be selling, and get leads/interview to sell your home.

I am interested as we are going to be selling our house soon, and an easy sell would be beyond awesome, even if we didn’t get top dollar, due to a large number of life changing events all happening at the same time.

Therefore, my question to all of you is, do I call this person? Is this legit? I am being overly paranoid? Thanks!

If it’s a legitimate local RE firm, call them. If it turns into anything but what it says, it’s likely to be a ploy to get you to do a speculative listing with them. I would sign NOTHING with them except a letter confirming their exclusive right to represent the buyer, which protects them from you two going off and making your own deal. You do NOT need to list your house, or anything like it, to have the offer and bonafides presented.

If it’s not a reputable firm, I wouldn’t even bother to call them back. Almost certainly something scummy or scammy.

Or they could be bottom feeders looking for distressed proerties to pick up cheap.

I have seen this done legitimately during the pre bubble days in Northern California in exclusive neighborhoods where housing stocks were unusually low. So it’s not necessarily a scam.

I don’t blame you for being suspicious (if it sounds too good to be true it probably is) so you need to check it out at arms length as described by Amateur Barbarian.

If it’s legit the RE office will explain what the buyer is looking for and what they are willing to pay. If they are just fishing for listings that should become clear fairly easily. Common sense usually prevails in these instances.

The offer may or may not be legit as the previous posters have said.

One thing is for certain… if the flyer was INSIDE your mailbox without any cancelled postage, they have broken a law connected to the USPS. Simply put, the box belongs to you, the space inside belongs to them.

Will the USPS prosecute? Who knows!

Report it to the Post Office. I believe it’s a Federal offense (or at least a violation of Postal regs.) for anyone except USPS employees to place anything in a mailbox.

That’ll larn 'em.

Is there something about your location that would make people seek it out specifically? A historic district? Near school that would draw students? Sitting in top of a small gold mine?

A friend of mine lives on a nearby lake, and an RE that lives nearby would occasionally pass out fliers like this, when she had a client looking for lake property.

Perhaps this matters…I am in London Ontario.

Probably not. :smiley:

In that case USPS rules wouldn’t apply. Maybe or maybe not Canadian Post has a similar rule.

Similarly, we have a house that backs up against a large park. Our whole side of the street gets a letter about once a month asking about “someone/family has interest in your house” and they are usually subdivided into the McMansions and the original houses (3 bedrooms). But they usually arrive in the official mail rather than spamming a whole neighborhood. So it doesn’t hurt to respond if you know the RE agency.

Also, if you are thinking of moving soon, reach out to agent(s) and start the process now. They are happy to meet with you and go over your house and tell you what would help with the valuation and selling it quickly. They send the calendars and pumpkins and chocolates and neighborhood newsletters because they want to represent you in the future and are working to be in a position to represent you… so let them start early as it benefits you both.

So far today I have had shoved through my letterbox:
1 plastic bag from a charity I never heard of wanting old clothes;
1 flyer from a local pizza place;
1 free newspaper;
and 2 letters - one from a cable company that won’t give up, and the other a catalogue.

Only the last was delivered by the postman.

If you mean a slot in the door, those might not be considered a “mailbox” as the USPS defines it.

I get an unsolicited offer on my house 3 or 4 times a year. However, I live in a really desirable neighborhood and my house looks like a tear down. Housing stock is limited in this area. That said, there’s always a stamp on the letter.

We also get these letters a few times a year. We live in a fairly desirable neighborhood in San Diego known for its good schools, which is why we originally moved here. That said, when the letters come, they are 1) always postmarked and are real mail 2) always make it clear who the RE company/agent is up front.

If someone sent a vague letter like that which was unstamped and didn’t identify up front who the RE company was such that I had to call a number to find out, my scam detector would go off big time and I would throw it away, even if I was planning to sell my home.

My guess is that they are looking to collect names of potential sellers that they can then sell as some kind of prospecting list to RE companies, spammers, or worse and that they aren’t anything more than a junk mailer themselves.

I am looking at houses, and I’ve has people recommend I take that approach. I am only interested in a single neighborhood, and listings don’t come up often.

They do not have “A customer”, (= a specific person) who just happens to be perfectly “suitable for your needs”.
What they do have is a lack of listings.
So naturally the need to advertise, just like any business .
But if they just printed a flyer saying " hey, look at us—we are a good real estate office", you would toss it. If they phrase it like a personal invitation, they get more attention.

Treat them like you should treat any Real Estate company: carefully.

I’d ignore it.

If you really want to sell your house then choose an agent without consideration to the letter you received. Pick an agent you like.

If this unnamed buyer really exists, they will find your listing.

Our immediate neighbor purchased their house exactly in this manner. The new neighbor wanted to live in our neighborhood, their agent actually mailed notices to all the houses in the neighborhood, and our old neighbor who was about to put the house on the market made a sale without paying a commission.

During the 80s when Japan and Japanese were buying everything in sight, there were stories about people who had signature properties in Hawaii - clifftop, beachfront, excellent views, etc. - having would-be Japanese buyers knock on their door and simply hold out papers with figures written on them. In the story I read, the owners were turning down 3-4 times market value and finally had a sign made that said, in the politest Japanese, to… go away.