If you are buying a property that is not listed on the MLS, you will probably not be using a real estate agent. While this can seem intimidating, this happens all the time, and although an agent won’t be there to hold your hand, you’ll get through it just fine!
Related: The Easiest Way to Find “Off Market” Deals: Pocket Listings
Making an offer to a private seller usually begins with a verbal offer, offered in casual conversation. It’s usually far less official at first, and it’s usually just brought up when touring the property. When I am trying to buy a home from a private seller, I like to start by asking the seller how much they would like to get. Then, after some negotiation (which I’ll cover later in this chapter), you’ll come to an agreement on price. At that point, you can pull out your official purchase and sale document and sign in all the necessary places to make it official.
Letter of Intent
Another casual way to make an offer without being too official is by using a letter of intent. A letter of intent is a simple document that lists the conditions of the purchase and sale, usually on one page, and doesn’t use all the legalese. It’s not a legal document, just a way for both parties to see the summary of what’s being offered. Often, the official purchase and sale document can be dozens of pages long just to explain a few important facts.
The Purchase and Sale Agreement
A letter of intent simply places those facts on one page, so both parties can decide whether an official purchase and sale agreement is worth drafting. If you don’t have a purchase and sale (P&S) agreement lying around, don’t worry! There are several places you can go to get one:
- Local Title Company: Title companies will often give away legal P&S agreements because they know that by providing this free form, you will likely end up using them for the sale closing.
- Online: There are several online websites that offer state-specific legal forms for purchase. You can also check the BiggerPockets FilePlace at BiggerPockets.com/files for other useful forms and documents.Office Supply Store: Many office supply stores, especially the big box stores, carry P&S agreements along with many other legal forms.
- Other Investors: Ask around at your local real estate club to see if anyone has the form you need. Most investors would have no problem sharing theirs.
Finally, no matter how you obtain your P&S form, I recommend that you have a local attorney take a glance at it. You want to be sure you are covering all the necessary bases, and a lawyer can help you do that. You can also simply get a P&S agreement from an attorney, though this might the most expensive option.
Any questions about offering on a property not listed on the MLS? What has your experience been?