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Home Stalking: A New Real Estate Trend

Posted by Victoria Macaskill

Generally speaking, stalking usually isn’t considered a positive thing. However, with homes selling so quickly right now and competition increasing rapidly, many buyers have hopped on the “home stalking” bandwagon as an innovative strategy to find a new house.

This home stalking trend includes tactics such as knocking on doors, tracking down homeowners, and writing letters in hopes to purchase a home that may not even be listed for sale. Since 2010, home stalking has increased in popularity by 15%.

Zillow’s Make Me Move is a website that allows homeowners to list their properties with a “dream” price. Potential homebuyers can contact the seller via email, and the seller will continue to remain anonymous. This feature provided by Zillow currently has over 148,000 listings, and since last year, contact to homeowners has increased by 130%.

There are three main strategies home stalkers use:

  1. Letters to the homeowner. Some homebuyers are stopping by homes to give them letters asking the homeowner if they would be interested in selling. Most of these letters add a personal touch, telling the homeowner why they would be the best prospective buyer for the property. According to a survey done by the National Association of Realtors last year, 20% of those who sold their homes without using a real estate agent said they did so because a prospective buyer contacted them. Keep in mind that it is illegal to put something in someone else’s mailbox, so either address the letter to “Resident” and mail it or leave it at their door.
  2. Searching the Internet, and setting up property alerts. Most real estate listing websites give you the option to set up alerts on properties you are interested in. If you know what neighborhood you want to live in, you can set up alerts on properties in that neighborhood. The more property alerts you set up, the better your chances are at getting a home in that particular neighborhood. Also, foreclosure listings and pre-foreclosure listings are a great resource you can use to find more possibilities.
  3. Old-fashioned knocking. Is there a home you absolutely love? You could always just knock on the door and ask the homeowner if they have any interest in selling.

Keep in mind that to avoid overpaying for a property and making sure everyone is getting the best deal, it’s always a good idea to hire a real estate agent and an attorney to assist with the process.

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