Buying when I'm not selling?
March 16, 2014 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I recently purchased a house. The deed was recorded back then and the initial flurry of "you should buy our security system, new homeowner!" junk mail has stopped. After a few weeks of quiet in my mailbox, I'm now receiving individual letters asking to buy my house. None of them has quoted a price, nor do I really want to sell. I usually just e-mail the address on the letter saying "make me an offer and maybe." Should I do anything else?

My new-to-me-but-very-old house is in an "up and coming" area of Seattle and sits on one of the relatively few undivided, non-restricted, townhouse-zoned, but still small lots left in this neighborhood. The letters I am receiving have actual stamps, ink signatures, and are addressed to my legal name as found on the county property rolls. My e-mails are usually short, something like "I will look at any offer you care to send but I'm not motivated to sell at this time." There have been 3 (or 4, depending on how the flyer on my front door is to be deemed) letters.

I used a buyer's agent to buy this house but I don't want to bother him with each of these, nor have I contacted him to ask about a "fair" price. That step seems more prudent once or if someone sends back an offer, which hasn't happened. The letters aren't annoying; who knows, one of them might turn into something so I don't want to take action to stop them. Other than sending my polite and businesslike e-mail back, are there any other suggested courses of action for keeping my ear to the ground?

The above reads a bit awkwardly to me. What I want to accomplish is to stay in my cute house, sprucing up the yard and fixing the plumbing, while also leaving the door open for a "make me move"-style offer. Does that make sense?
posted by fireoyster to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Best answer: Chuck them all out. Anybody who is serious about making you an offer you can't refuse will come see you in person.
posted by flabdablet at 9:59 AM on March 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Why pay a broker? If someone shows you a price that appeals to you, get a real estate lawyer to deal with the buyer from then on -- costs you a few thousand bucks versus a percentage of the purchase price
posted by MattD at 9:59 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: They don't really sound legit but if you are seriously open to flipping it, decide on a "make me move" number in advance.
posted by Beti at 10:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

We got a door hanger just yesterday that is from some guy offering to buy any home at any time. What these people are doing (at least in my area) is casting a wide net trying to find people desperate to sell/move. People who got transferred and need to be gone tomorrow, people who are in legal trouble, people who are underwater on their mortgage, etc. They will offer you pennies on the dollar - I've never seen or heard of one paying market or higher. Personally, I wouldn't even waste the time emailing them. As someone else said, if they were truly serious about wanting your house, they'd come to your door and talk to you.
posted by _DB_ at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2014 [13 favorites]

The people that are sending those letters are hoping to find someone who is so desperate for cash they are willing to part with their house for, say, half of its value. That pays for a lot of letters. You are not one of those people. You will never get a "make me move" style offer from one of the letters. You should ignore the letters - they aren't even worth your time to respond by email.
posted by saeculorum at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]

They aren't specifically interested in your house, they're interested in any house in the "up and coming neighborhood" that they can get for a steal. They spam every homeowner around, hoping to stumble upon a house where the owner just died or something like that. If they respond at all to your 'make me an offer' question, it will be an offer for about 65% of what you just paid for it. Throw the junk mail in the trash, and when it comes time that you really want to sell the house, just do it the normal way.
posted by spilon at 10:37 AM on March 16, 2014

I get "please sell me your house" leaflets, flyers, etc. about once a month. I even got what I can only describe as a "buyer's resume" ("We are Josh and Jessica! We love to garden, jog, and go to the beach! We have two beautiful kids, a dog and a cat, and are looking for a house in your neighborhood! If you ever want to sell your house, call or email us!").

I live in a high-demand and low-supply area, and some people who want to buy here try to grab onto a likely house even before it's listed. It's almost like the 2000's housing boom. Just toss the flyers and whatnot. If I were to sell my house, I'd just do it the normal way with a realtor.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:44 AM on March 16, 2014

Best answer: Unless you're ready to sell, in which case, re-engage your realtor, dump these in the trash. These folks aren't serious, and neither are you.

No one will offer you $1 million above the value of your house.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:35 PM on March 16, 2014

I get the same kind of mail occasionally, usually when a neighborhood house has sold. It is advertising (spamming?) by a real estate agent.
posted by Cranberry at 1:00 PM on March 16, 2014

Best answer: When we were looking for a house, we asked our realtor to send three letters like this. We meant what we said -- we were interested in those houses. No one answered us, which is too bad, because we'd genuinely have liked to consider buying those houses.

There is no way we would have approached in person. No way. Creepy, plus you're likely to get them in their bathrobe, or the teenage son, or in the middle of something. A letter on letterhead with an ink signature is the way we went.

Your responses are good, although they are seriously unlikely to make an offer without seeing the house. How could they? I'd leave the door open a little wider to just starting a conversation in your replies.
posted by Capri at 7:46 PM on March 16, 2014

Best answer: The house was for sale just a few months ago. If anyone (for example, a developer interested in the area, land, townhouse conversion, etc) seriously wanted to buy it for the same price you bought it for, they would have done that. What are the chances that someone wants to buy that house for more than you paid? Unless you got a screaming bargain, or something major has changed in the neighborhood in the months since you bought it, or there are just no houses for sale, there's nobody looking to pay you more than the house was worth 6 months ago (i.e. not enough that you'd make any money after subtracting all the fees).

Maybe these are letters looking for house flippers - did you just buy the house, you're currently renovating the kitchen, and you know you'll be selling it by the end of summer? if so, call us!
Maybe these are letters looking for buyers remorse - has the new house smell worn off and your kid hates the new school? We'll help you minimize your losses!
Highly unlikely that these are letters looking to make you rich.

But I think your answer is realistic.
posted by aimedwander at 8:07 AM on March 17, 2014

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