How We Bought a House That Wasn’t for Sale (and How You Can, Too)

While trying to buy a house this summer, I assumed our real estate options were limited to homes that were officially for sale.

Well, guess what? We ended up buying a house that wasn’t even listed—and learned that this home-buying strategy wasn’t just possible, but often preferable if you’re purchasing property in a competitive market.

Here’s how we pulled it off, and how you can, too.

How we bought an unlisted house

The backstory: My husband and I had been house hunting for months in Alabama, and had fallen in love with one particular property in the highly desirable historic district of Florence. We made an offer the same day we toured the house, only to be heartbroken upon learning that it went to another buyer (a relative of the seller).

Feeling at a loss, we scoured Florence for other options, but nothing else was for sale—which made sense, because

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What I wish I’d known when I bought my first home

Everyone knows that buying a house is a long and stressful process — and that was the case long before “Covid-19” or “social distancing” became part of our everyday vocabulary.

When I began the search for my first home in December 2019, I underestimated just how long finding the right place would take. I’d done my homework, knew roughly what area I was interested in, and how much money I was willing to spend. But once the pandemic hit, I slammed on the brakes. Life felt too uncertain and making a big purchase felt too risky.

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Still, my moderate obsession with searching Zillow never fully ceased and I’d see places I was interested in here

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