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Not all poperties available to purchase are advertised. How can savvy buyers find opportunities to buy "off market"?

What does buying a property "off market" mean?

Not all properties for sale are advertised - the ones that don't get officially listed for sale are known as off market opportunities, and there are lots of those at the moment!

There are various reasons why a vendor/seller may not wish to publicly advertise and list their property for sale: they could be seeking to save money on advertising and marketing costs; or they are hoping for a quick sale perhaps to capitalise on under-bidders for a neighbouring property recently sold; or the property is currently in poor condition; or it's rented out and the tenants aren't cooperative with open for inspections; or they don't want their family / friends / street / the world to know that they are selling.

The easiest way to find out about off-market opportunities is to make yourself known to a few of the most prominent real estate agents in the local areas you are interested in. Some agents run extensive databases of prospective purchaser leads and they will contact those leads when suitable off-market opportunities arise. Some agents will doorknock and letterbox the nearby streets when they are selling in the area, which can result in off-market opportunities being created.

Properties are also sold without the involvement of any real estate agents. These can be transactions between family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours, where the deposit funds are held in the vendor's lawyer's trust account pending settlement.

When searching online for the sales history of a property, you may come across the term nils and wills, or there is no price available for the sale of the property. This usually reflects a change of ownership following an inheritance, divorce settlement or spousal ownership transfer (for tax, legal liability or personal reasons).

And sometimes, a purchaser's direct approach to an unknown vendor can result in an off-market sale. This can occur through randomly doorknocking and letterboxing desired houses, ads on social media and putting the word out through local social circles/school communities and so on. A buyer's advocate can also be engaged to directly approach a proposed vendor.

Note: the above is general information, relevant in Victoria only, and should not be considered as legal advice.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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