Off-market property buying: risky, or sensible?

Collage of hands shaking on a yellow background, because they just made an off-market property deal.

Everyone’s looking for an angle these days into the ridiculously competitive property market. But for those hoping to avoid the emotional stress and risk of auctions, conducting ‘secret’ deals behind closed doors could be the way to go. 

In other words: buy off-market.

This isn’t nearly as shady (or cutthroat) as it sounds. Though not as common as the traditional auction route, buying off-market is standard practice. This method also suits specific kinds of buyers/sellers and presents a potentially clever, time-saving way around all the hassle. 

But what is buying property off-market? Why doesn’t everyone do this? And how do you know if it’s right for you?

What does buying off-market mean?

A street of nice houses

Buying property off the market simply means purchasing a home that wasn’t advertised publicly for sale. 

Instead of trawling real estate portals, attending open houses, and vying to be the highest bidder, prospective buyers go directly through an agent who privately matches them with an ideal property. Sounds amazing – right? 

Usually. Buying off-market still requires research and is all about ‘who you know’, favouring buyers willing to work closely with real estate agents and move quickly on opportunities. Buyers might also have to pay a (sometimes hefty) premium to secure the property. 

However, if you’re willing to play the game, the benefits can be enormous – for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can enjoy a streamlined, non-competitive process with a wider and exclusive selection of choices at potentially cheaper prices, while sellers can keep their privacy and sell quickly. They might not get as good a price as they would at an auction, but time and peace of mind might be worth more to them. 

After all, sometimes you’re just a buyer standing in front of a seller, asking for the best price.

When shouldn’t you buy property off-market?

A new home-owner gazes contently at the sunset while sitting on a moving box

Heck yes, this all sounds great – why doesn’t everyone just buy property off-market?

Again, premiums. This can lock out a lot of prospective buyers and is often why off-market deals are the preferred method of celebrities or high-net-worth individuals. (Lookin’ at you, Kylie Minogue). 

There aren’t as many homes available off the market, either, and it can be risky for first-time buyers who don’t know the real estate market well. Can you unemotionally assess the value of a property at first glance? Do you have the capital (or pre-approved home loan) to make a compelling offer? These are critical questions to ask.

Buying off-market also requires you to get ruthlessly clear about what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. Firm negotiating skills – or a good buyer’s agent – are absolute must-haves. 

But all of these are doable with the right time, effort, and resources, so consider your situation and what makes sense for you.

How do you find off-market properties?

An illustrated picture of pink city apartment balconies

So you’ve done a little soul-searching and you’ve decided: “Bring it on.” 

Brilliant! Aside from the usual home-buyers checklist, you’ll need to have a finger on the off-market housing pulse. Join a database or off-market subscription list and introduce yourself to some red-hot real estate agents (plural!). This way, you’re ready to pounce when that amazing property goes up for a sneaky, secret sale.

Buyers’ agents can help enormously in this regard, too, since they can do the digging and negotiating for you. 

Some things to decide in advance (and tell your agent) include:

  • Price range.
  • Ideal suburb/area (the more specific, the better!)
  • Property-type (house, apartment, magic castle, etc.)
  • Bedrooms/layout.
  • Proximity to amenities (transportation, schools, shops, etc.)
  • Any special features you can’t live without.

This “must-have” list is separate from a “would be nice” list, however. Maybe it’d be great to have a pool for the kiddies, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

However, keep your wish list in mind when browsing properties. That lovely coastal villa doesn’t have a pool right now, but it definitely has room for one later.

Australian property market in 2022 and finding the right home loan

A woman shows her grinning wife a family picture while they pack moving boxes

Housing market volatility is nothing new, but things seem particularly iffy at the moment. 

Between hectic rate rises from the RBA and the scary cost of living, finding the best price possible has become a major priority for first home buyers. 

Luckily, when our current market oversupply, it's buyers choice. Price drops and slowing auction rates indicate nervous buyers and a lull to the pandemic housing boom, attracting sellers to the quick, no-fuss guarantees. All things up, 2022 might be a great year for off-market deals.

Looking to buy a home? We’ve assembled a guide for first-time buyers and rounded up all the Australian property trends to look out for in 2022.

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