The Washington Post

Real Estate Matters | Hot seller’s market brings solicitations to homeowners


Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

I am a Washington, D.C., homeowner. Recently, I have begun receiving notes from real estate agents saying they have clients who are interested in buying in my neighborhood and would be interested in making an offer on my house because it fits their parameters.

Are these real offers? Or a misleading way for agents to discover and create sellers in a desirable neighborhood? If they are real offers, why now?

What you’re seeing is a classic marketing move in a hot seller’s market. When there aren’t enough homes for all the buyers who want to purchase them, savvier real estate agents will start “canvassing” the market, trying to prompt homeowners who are thinking about selling to actually get off the fence and make a move.

Often, these letters have real buyers behind them. Case in point: We own an investment property near where we live. The property is currently rented and has been cash positive for years — not a lot of extra cash flow each month, but nice.

We recently got a call from a broker asking if we were thinking about selling because he had a buyer. We have a real estate agent who lists the property for rental, and our two-year rental is coming up and this is the season in which we typically would rent the property. (It’s a two-bedroom condo in a university town, so it usually rents to graduate students.)

We put our agent on the case to find out if the other agent did, indeed, have a real buyer and to give the buyer our price at which we would sell.

Turns out, there was a real buyer who was willing to make a cash offer we could live with. And so, without really doing anything on our own, we are going to sell this investment property and take our money off the table.

We’re quite sure there are real estate agents who are looking for clients and they don’t actually have buyers. They’re hoping that they can entice you into a conversation because you’ll be greedy and your ears will perk up at the sound of a lot of cash landing on your doorstep.

Sellers have become savvier, and you should, too. If you are approached, and you do like what you hear, ask three agents from three different firms to then come in and do a comparative marketing analysis of the property and what list price each would suggest for your home.

That way, whether a buyer exists or not, you’ll understand exactly what the possible price point will be for a future sale.

Ilyce R. Glink’s latest book is “Buy, Close, Move In!” If you have questions, you can call her radio show toll-free (800-972-8255) any Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST. Contact Ilyce through her Web site,



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