Off Market House: A Guide On How to Buy Them

how to buy a house that's not for sale

When a property is off-market, it means it’s not listed for sale on public sites like MLS or real estate websites. These properties are often sold privately through direct communication between sellers and potential buyers or their agents. Off-market properties offer unique opportunities for buyers who are willing to look beyond the usual channels. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy them; you just need to know how to find and buy these houses that are not for sale.

Why would a property be off-market?

There are several reasons why a property might be off-market: 

  • Privacy and Exclusivity: Some sellers, especially those with high-end or luxury properties, prefer to keep their sales private to avoid nosy neighbors or public attention. 
  • Avoiding Hassle and Uncertainty: Sellers might want to skip the preparation and stress of listing a property publicly and prefer dealing directly with serious buyers. 
  • Renovations and Legal Approvals: Properties undergoing renovations or legal processes might stay off-market until they’re ready for sale. 
  • Testing the Market: Sellers use off-market listings to gauge interest and set a realistic asking price before officially listing the property. 
  • Targeted Sales: Sellers might choose to sell off-market to specific buyers, like investors or people within their network, for a quicker sale.

Is it possible to still buy a property that’s off-market?

Yes, you can still buy off-market properties. Even though they aren’t publicly listed, they are still available for purchase. To find these hidden gems, you need to actively seek them out and connect with sellers or their agents to negotiate a deal. This process may take more effort and persistence than buying a listed property, but the potential benefits make it worthwhile.

How will you find off-market properties?

Finding off-market properties means being proactive and thinking outside the box. Here’s how: 

  1. Connect with Real Estate Pros: Talk to agents, brokers, and industry insiders who know about off-market listings. They often have insider info that’s not on regular listing sites. Stay in touch and attend real estate events to stay in the loop.
  2. Talk to Your Network: Tell friends, family, and coworkers you’re house hunting. They might know someone selling a property off the market and can give you a heads-up.
  3. Check Online: Even though off-market properties aren’t usually advertised, you can still find leads on social media, real estate forums, and specialty websites like Zillow or Craigslist. Joining real estate groups online can also help.
  4. Reach Out Directly: Sometimes, you need to make the first move. Send letters, emails, or knock on doors to reach property owners directly. Explain why you’re interested and what you’re looking for.
  5. Look into Auctions and Foreclosures: Properties up for auction or owned by banks due to foreclosure might not be listed normally. Websites like or RealtyTrac can help you find these deals.
  6. Consider Real Estate Wholesalers: Real estate wholesalers specialize in finding properties and matching them with buyers. They often have access to off-market deals you wouldn’t find otherwise.

How will you buy off-market properties?

Once you’ve spotted a possible off-market house, it’s time to kick off the buying process. Here’s a straightforward guide to snagging a house that’s not officially up for sale: 

  1. Express Interest: Reach out to the seller or their agent to show that you’re keen on buying the place. Share what you’re looking for and be ready to discuss prices. In off-market deals, it’s often just you and the seller, so being friendly and upfront can go a long way. 
  2. Inspect Thoroughly: Take a good look at the property to check its condition and if it’s worth the price. Hire someone to inspect it, look into its past, and compare it to similar homes nearby. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. 
  3. Negotiate the Details: Talk things over with the seller to settle on a price, when you’ll seal the deal and any other important stuff. Since there’s no competition, you might have more room to negotiate. You can also discuss things like repairs or other tasks the seller might need to handle. 
  4. Sort Out Your Finances: Figure out how you’ll pay for the house. If you need a loan, get pre-approved to show the seller you’re serious. Cash offers can be appealing to sellers, especially in off-market deals. 
  5. Make it Official: Once you and the seller agree on everything, sign a contract that says you’re buying the house. This contract lays out all the details about the sale, so make sure it’s accurate. You might want a lawyer to assist with this step. 
  6. Wrap it Up: Close the deal by doing a final check of the house, transferring the money, and signing all the papers to confirm you’re the new owner. Double-check that everything’s in order before you give the green light.

Is it a good idea to buy off-market properties?

Buying an off-market property has its advantages and disadvantages.


  • Less Competition: Since these properties aren’t advertised to everyone, you have a better chance of buying them without competing against many other buyers. This can be helpful in areas where lots of people want to buy homes.
  • Room for Bargaining: With fewer buyers vying for the same property, sellers might be more willing to negotiate the price and other terms. They might even accept offers they wouldn’t consider in a busier market.
  • Special Opportunities: Off-market homes can be unique finds, like fancy houses, fixer-uppers, or homes in really popular spots. You might discover something you wouldn’t find in regular listings.
  • Privacy: Some sellers prefer to keep things private by not listing their homes publicly. This can be nice for both buyers and sellers who want a more discreet sale.


  • Fewer Choices: Since off-market homes aren’t widely advertised, there might not be as many options to choose from. You might need to search harder to find one that meets your needs.
  • Extra Checking: Because these homes aren’t as public, you’ll need to do more research to ensure everything’s okay with the property. Thorough inspections are essential to avoid surprises later on.
  • Less Information: It might be harder to determine if you’re getting a good deal because there’s not as much information available about similar sales. This can make it challenging to know if you’re paying a fair price.
  • Legal Considerations: Off-market deals may not follow the same rules as regular sales, so it’s crucial to ensure everything is done correctly legally. This includes checking titles, zoning laws and permits to prevent issues in the future.
  • Financing Challenges: Securing a loan for an off-market home might be more difficult, especially if the property needs work or if the seller wants to close the deal quickly. Lenders might require additional paperwork or a larger down payment.

You can buy off-market properties

You can buy a house that’s not on the market if you’re willing to try new things. There are many ways to find hidden opportunities and maybe even find your dream home in places you didn’t expect. So, don’t hesitate to check out off-market options and look beyond the usual places. With some creativity and determination, you might just find the perfect home waiting for you where you least expect it.

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