Some home buyers are skipping real estate agents to find homes
- After spending a year house hunting with a real estate agent, Malory Lea found her own lead
- Whisper campaigns rely solely on the ingenuity of the buyer and seller and their ability to leverage word of mouth, without an agent.
- Being educated in the market is the key to a successful transaction
After spending a year looking for a house with a real estate agent, Malory Lea knew she would need a creative approach.
“There was almost nothing available. The supply was very, very low,” said Lea, who was looking for a home in the $700,000 price range in Pleasantville, New York. “Everything she (the agent) showed us was either terribly overpriced and a dump, or it was good but overpriced, and then also cost a hundred thousand dollars more than the already overpriced amount.”
So Lea started scouring social media for leads looking for landlords looking to get around real estate agents. She left notes on the doors of her favorite neighborhood. She also used old-fashioned tactics, like poring over the local vineyard, to research potential sellers.
And, within months, his efforts paid off and his family closed a house without the help of a real estate agent. She is one of the potential homeowners working without real estate agents in an ultra-competitive market where homes often sell out within days. Just look at the almost daily social media posts to see buyers asking if they know anyone looking to sell their home.
Call it the whisper campaign. This should not be confused with the controversial “whisper list” or “pocket list”, where agents show “off-market” homes not listed on the multiple listing service to potential buyers. Whisper campaigns rely solely on the ingenuity of the buyer and seller and their ability to exploit the possibility of word-of-mouth without an agent.
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A whisper list? No, a whisper campaign
Admittedly, finding a potential prospect without a realtor is a lot of work.
But Lea faced fierce competition, willing to pay a premium and growing weary of what must have been a temporary living situation. She, along with her husband, Dustin, and their two daughters moved into her parents’ home in Pleasantville in February 2021.
Lea, 35, a lawyer, worked from her home in South Burlington, Vermont, with two toddlers in tow. But after a hiatus in her childcare during the pandemic, the situation became untenable. The move allowed Lea’s mother to help with the children until she found daycare in Pleasantville.
Her sister also lives in Pleasantville and while walking down her street, Léa has an idea.
“I left little notes in people’s mailboxes saying, ‘I really want to live here. Let me know if you’re interested in selling your house,'” she says.
It did not work. But his sister ended up talking to people in town (some of whom had received the notes) and found out that their neighbor had tried to sell his house a few years ago, then decided to take it off the market.
The house was located in the heart of Pleasantville on Romer Avenue, two houses from high school and a short walk from middle and elementary schools. The village library was located at the end of the street.
“It was the perfect place for us,” says Lea, whose daughters are 4 and 2.
In early February, Lea’s brother-in-law found the owner’s name and phone number online.
“I just called her and left her a voicemail. And then she called me back,” says Lea. the House? “”
Susan Rana had lived in the 2,200 square foot three-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape Cod-style home with her husband and son for more than 25 years. Now retired, and with their adult son settled elsewhere, the couple had considered selling it in 2019.
After putting it on sale with an agent for five months, the couple abandoned the idea for lack of activity.
“It probably wasn’t the right price,” says Rana. The home was originally listed for $809,000, then dropped to $799,000 a month later.
Before going to see the house, Lea wanted to know what Rana’s price expectations were, she says.
“I didn’t want to waste his time,” she said.
Rana said they were considering having it appraised, but mentioned she was looking at around $750,000.
The number made sense to Lea because one website had rated it slightly higher and another slightly lower.
The home seller
While it was an unexpected call, Rana says she was happy to talk to Lea.
“Malory knew people from the neighborhood, her sister was from the neighborhood, she was from the area. It seemed like a pretty natural choice for them,” says Rana, to determine if this was a serious investigation. “She understood the market and seemed like a driven buyer.”
Lea also offered Rana the asking price.
Rana says her decision to consider skipping an agent comes down to saving money, which could amount to 5% to 6% in agent fees, and the effort required to show the house.
“My perceived benefit was that it would be easier and we would save money,” she says. “I was confident we could handle the process with a good local real estate attorney.”
Given the hot pandemic market, did she think she would be leaving money on the table by not signing up with an agent?
“Actually no. I haven’t. I briefly thought about it and then realized that working with an agent you come up against the amount of work you have to do to get the house ready,” says “We should probably have open houses and always be ready to leave the house so people can come and see her and that can be a little stressful.”
With a motivated buyer like Lea, it seemed like a much easier path for them to take.
Much to Rana’s relief, everything went like clockwork and the Lea family moved into the house last weekend.
What is a successful transaction?
“When you have someone who knows the market, it’s much easier to make quick decisions,” says Rana. “They were kind, professional and very open to questions and ideas. It is therefore extremely important to establish this kind of relationship.
Lea, who is a lawyer, represented herself, ensuring that all eventualities such as inspection and financing were part of the agreement. She advises hiring a competent attorney for a title search and making sure all the paperwork is in order.
Knowing how competitive the market is, she kept her demands to a minimum.
“There was a screened porch and one of the beams was rusting so they fixed that. But that was the only thing we asked them to ask,” she says.
The big advantage for Lea as a buyer and finding her own lead was not having to worry about bidding wars and not having to compete with anyone.
“Don’t be afraid to start talking. A lot can happen by word of mouth. I think a lot of people forget how useful this can be.
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy is housing and economics correspondent for USA TODAY. You can FFollow her on Twitter @SwapnaVenugopal and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here