May 12 2022

How to Find a House to Purchase That’s Not on the Market

t’s a question many potential homebuyers have never even thought of: Can you buy a home that’s not listed for sale? The answer is a simple “yes.

It’s a question many potential homebuyers have never even thought of: Can you buy a home that’s not listed for sale? The answer is a simple “yes,” though finding unlisted homes for sale can be complicated. 


So, what exactly are unlisted homes? 

There’s one thing that all unlisted homes are not: unavailable for sale. When a home isn’t on the market, that generally means that it hasn’t been listed on the major multiple listing services (or MLS) that most brokerages and real estate agencies use. Or, perhaps, the home was listed before but didn’t sell. A home could be unlisted because the owner is on the fence over whether to sell, or the house could be a pocket listing: a property that a real estate broker doesn’t list. The latter is often the case with exclusive homes targeted at an elite clientele, and a pocket listing could be owned by a high-profile person who doesn’t want the sale of their home to be public knowledge.  


In general, you’re more likely to have unlisted homes for sale in a sellers’ market with low inventory and more buyers than there are sellers. Which accurately describes today’s housing market. 


Ask Some Agents 


Not all real estate agents have pocket listings, but some surely do. You can compile a list of local agents using a variety of online tools, including directories from the National Association of Realtors. Facebook is another great place to find agents. When you’ve got your list, start sending them texts and emails, or give them phone calls. You could very well find a pocket listing or a home that’s just about to go on the market. 


Networking and More Networking 

Even in the digital age, word-of-mouth is still a thing. A good way to start a search for an unlisted home is to tell everyone you know you’re in the market. From family, friends, neighbors, and even casual acquaintances, there’s a chance somebody knows somebody who could have a home for sale. Find out if Facebook groups or your local Real Estate Investors Association have in-person events where you could chat up anyone from brokers to builders and investors to find out about unlisted properties. Then take it online; posts all across the top social media platforms, from Facebook and Twitter to TikTok, Instagram, and more, can tell the world you’re looking for an unlisted home. 


Target Rental Homes 


If a house is for rent, there’s a chance that it could be for sale. There’s no harm in contacting the owner to see if they’d like to sell — that’s how some real estate agents find homes to sell. As landlords may not wish to let their tenants know that a home is up for sale, the likelihood that a rental property might be unlisted but still available for sale is good enough reason to merit why you’re asking the question. One of the best ways to do this is through rental property managers, who are apt to know better than anyone else which rental properties might be ripe for a new owner. 


Find a Fixer-Upper 


Referred to in real estate circles as “driving for dollars,” cruising around in search of homes that are in need of serious work is one way to find one that might be available for sale. This could mean finding a place that’s undergoing improvements, or one that’s dilapidated or even abandoned. While the current owner may see the property as a problem, you may be able to see its potential. All the better if you’re handy or know a thing or two about home renovations. 


Search for Foreclosures 


At the risk of taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune, homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure might be open to purchase offers. You can find these homes a variety of ways, including checking the public notice listings in your local newspaper to see what homes are going to be auctioned (banks are legally required to post public notices prior to the auction). You can also go to county courthouses to look at the public records of current foreclosure proceedings, usually searchable by zip code. Some websites, such as Fannie Mae HomePath and Zillow, show homes that are in the foreclosure process. 


Non-Traditional Online Real Estate Resources 


Just because a home isn’t MLS listed, that doesn’t mean it’s not listed anywhere online. Websites such as OffMarket, HomeQT, and Mashvisor specialize in the buying and selling of off-market properties. You might be able to find an off-market home for sale on Facebook Marketplace, or through classifieds websites such as Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, and Oodle. As Zillow allows owners to list their homes 30 days before they are officially listed for sale, you may be able to find semi-listed “Coming Soon” homes there. 


Send a Love Letter 


Do you have a talent for prose? Or perhaps just the ability to express your thoughts with simple words? No matter your level of wordsmithing, you can send an old-fashioned letter to the owner of a home you love. Express that love and you just might be able to convince an owner that you are the perfect person to next care for the home. Sure, it’s a longshot, but if it doesn’t work, you’re only out the cost of a stamp. 


Yup, There’s Even an App for That… 

Dating apps have shown us we can find love with our smartphones, so why should seeking your dream home be any different? Even if that home’s availability isn’t public knowledge. With the DropOffer app, buyers can get information on unlisted properties through real estate agents, who pay a monthly fee to DropOffer. Buyers need to be invited by agents to view listings and can send offers directly to the homeowners. DropOffer gets a referral fee after the deal is done. 

But before you begin your search for an unlisted home, it would be wise to consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage. City Lending is here for that and all your other home financing needs. 

These days, more and more people are looking to buy their dream homes, especially as remote work and work-from-home setups have become an enduring trend. A 15 point increase in requests for home tours and other home-buying services, along with a 11% rise in Google searches for homes, indicate an uptick in demand to buy houses in the country. However, there is a definite worry about affordability when it comes to housing, especially as hefty price tags on available residences have kept the market just as competitive as before, if not more.

According to the latest reports from analysts, it’s not all bad for existing homebuyers and aspiring house hunters. As previous data shows, timing matters in the housing market, and working on different approaches to home buying – like through a reliable lender – can help advance you towards more affordable housing goals. Below, we discuss whether house hunters should buy now or wait, and why.


What is your financial situation?

Counter to the rise in home demand, there is a considerable lack of supply. Along with rising prices and interest rates, the housing market may seem like a highly competitive space with wealthy homeowners fighting for what little property is left. It can be overwhelming, but knowing where you stand financially can help you better strategize your home buying journey. Following the four key components of affordability, ask yourself:

  • How much do you have saved for a down payment?

  • How much does your household earn?

  • What debts do you carry?

  • What is your credit score?


Familiarizing yourself with these components will help inform your decision on whether or not to wait. For example, taking the time to improve your credit scores before committing can save you from higher interest rates in terms of your monthly mortgage payments. Alternatively, many young homebuyers are compromising by living with family for a significant amount time to save up for a down payment. Getting this out of the way when you’re able to can help you get better loans to buy sooner than later in case interest rates end up increasing.

What kind of home is best for you?

Buying a home is a huge purchase and a big commitment. With shifts to digital and remote ways of working taking place in recent years, this has provided homebuyers with opportunities to be more flexible when buying homes. Homes in areas away from busy cities and urban hubs, for example, are considerably cheaper. This makes them a perfect option for buyers who work from home, or aren’t required to be present in the office on a consistent basis.

The lifestyle you expect to live is as much a factor to consider as money. Condos and townhouses offer lower maintenance costs in the long run, and are perfect for smaller households when compared to single-family homes. If the household grows, homebuyers looking for a side income can even invest in renting out purchased properties to passively earn back what they spent and look into bigger properties for family use.

What does the future look like?

In a previous post, we talked about the rising mortgage and interest rates. While the market may seem bleak or intimidating in its current condition, housing experts also believe factors such as supply have a high chance of returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024. If you are financially able, buying now while others may be intimidated by the prices can give you an edge. Conversely, taking some time to get your finances in order can benefit you when it comes to securing better loans and lower interest rates.

Working with experts can help you make better decisions for the loans you need, making sure you don’t get trapped with high interest rates or hidden charges. The future of fintech suggests that big data is the future of loans, as more online lenders are now using algorithms, which predict potential defaults better than FICO scores do. Data is also leveraged precisely to identify customers who fit various products well — which can give you peace of mind, as an aspiring borrower. Here at City Lending for example, we find the right programs to fit your needs and profile, making sure you get some of the lowest down payments and interest rates along with a premium service.

And if you’re still unsure, it’s worth considering that waiting it out in the market’s current wild conditions could result in even higher interest rates in the future. At the end of the day, buying a house is ultimately a huge investment, which comes with benefits such as privacy and a financial investment that for the most part will weather most economic storms.

Find out if this is the right time for you to get a house by contacting one of our loan officers today.


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Written by Alicia Christopher

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