approaching neighbor about off market sale

7 Replies

Hi.  I learned that a neighbor is interested in selling her property.  With zero negotiating experience, can anyone provide pointers on how to approach her?  (I don't know her myself, and I do plan to speak to her in person.)   My biggest hang up is that I have no idea what the valuation would be to eventually start a conversation about selling price.  The property doesn't even show up on Zillow, so I don't even know the bedroom count etc.  Her sister lives with her and plans to move out of state, so she is interested in selling apparently.  

Any advice is appreciated!

You can try looking the property up at your county's Auditor Website. A lot of information on the home is public information.  From there you can get a ballpark idea of what you may be willing to pay for the property by looking at comparable sales.

As far as negotiating goes, I always make sure I have an out (i.e. "I have to do some research and consult with my wife") and never give numbers, even ballparks, unless you are certain that is what you are willing to pay.   Also, be sure to emphasize the benefit of selling to you. Some benefits that come to mind...she wont have to list it, can sell exactly when she wants, possibly save on realtor commission etc.


I would just start the dialogue, whether you call or knock on their door. I would get them to start talking first - what are they looking to sell the home for, how motivated are they to sell, where are they going? They may be really excited to sell to a neighbor and if there are no real estate agents you could save them money. If the home doesn't have any information on Zillow, such as the zestimate, look at what other homes have sold in the neighborhood. If you still have a hard time pricing it, ask a real estate agent. Depending on your state's laws, the agent might be able to represent both sides (still saving the seller money). Let me know if you need more help and good luck!!!

have a realtor pull the public record. you can get the bed/bath count as well as how much it last sold for and what liens are recorded.

@Chris Karley - thanks for the input - I'll check with the city records.  Also appreciate learning that I shouldn't throw any number out unless certain of it.  

@Liz Daigle -  You're right - I should just start a dialogue.  I have been apprehensive since I've never done this before, but nothing will happen unless I do!  (I like to have all my ducks in a row before taking action...but not always possible.)

@Max Tanenbaum - Thanks - I do have a great realtor who lives in the neighborhood.  I would like to avoid additional fees if possible, but the value he may add might very well make it worth it.  

I just bought my neighbor's house!  I tried to understand their situation and the benefit that I could add.  In their case, they were moving to go back to graduate school and needed to replace the rugs from 13 years of cats.  They were also very busy with finding a job for one of them so I made the selling process simple.  To make it as amicable as possible on the price we agreed to have an appraiser come in...on their give pricing.  Lucky for me, the appraisal came in way low but they still felt like they were getting a good deal because they had to do no work and didn't have to use a realtor which saved them %6...something you could mention to get a better price.  When I was getting financing on my own it appraised for $15K more than the previous appraisal.

Good luck!

@Jed Devine I just saw your reply Jed. (must have missed a notification..)  Having the seller independently hire an appraiser is a great idea.  I don't know how to fairly value it otherwise.  Plus even the online city records have incomplete information on the property, so I don't even have a starting point.  Thank you!

I just knocked on the door, and although she was clearly home, she didn't answer.  I just found out yesterday she has health challenges as well.  Completely understandable.  I will write her a brief note stating my interest and check in with her next week post holiday.  Will keep you posted! :-)

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