Prospective home buyers throughout the Illawarra are being urged to network and attend open houses in order to be in the mix for potential off-market opportunities.
The term off-market sale relates to a property that is selling, or has already been sold, without any public advertising/marketing.
While off-market properties are still often promoted via social media, this process enables the vendor to save money by not paying for an advertising campaign.
Berry-based Rogan Gilhespie and wife Rebecca had owned 90 Belinda Street, Gerringong as an investment property for three years, before it sold in February for $1,327,500.
'The Bakehouse Cottage' is a five-bedroom cottage believed to have been built in 1926 for the local baker.
An extension had turned the original cottage into a larger, family-friendly home.
Mr Gilhespie said they had sold due to the "extremely positive" market, and also because they may be relocating in the future.
They had initially planned to auction the property, but due to the selling agent's database of prospective buyers decided to go off-market.
"The upside was there were no marketing costs, and it was very simple," he said.
"Another positive for us was that we had let it out, and the people who bought it wanted to carry on that tenancy."
He said the process of selling off-market, from deciding to sell that way to settlement, took two months.
"The question is always there in the back of your mind - 'would we have got more if we'd gone to auction?'" he said.
"But for us, it was simple and quick, and everyone involved was straightforward to deal with."
The property was bought by Andrew Thomas and wife Carolyn, based in Sydney.
After missing out on another property in the area, they kept in touch with selling agent, Angie Ritchie from First National Coast & Country, to indicate they were a serious buyer if the right property became available.
"We love the older style property with character and history," Mr Thomas said.
They bought it as an investment, but may look to live there at a later date.
Mr Thomas said prospective buyers, including those wanting to be considered for off-market opportunities, need to establish a genuine relationship with agents.
"Also, be prepared to accept a property that is maybe 90 per cent perfect, and the other 10 per cent has to come from your own renovation, or compromise," he said.
"Don't be too fussy, be prepared to do some work, and make sure the agent is really clear on what sort of property and budget you're looking in.
"And don't stuff around - just jump on it."
Ms Ritchie said she didn't believe the number of off-market sales within the region had increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think there are certain situations that call for an off-market sale," she said.
"In some situations it's definitely beneficial to go off-market, but a lot of vendors are looking to see what the market will produce because it's changing so quickly."
She also offered some advice for prospective buyers who were looking for an edge in the Illawarra market, including being considered as a viable candidate for off-market sales.
"Be active in the open house market, and network in the area you want to buy in," she said.
"Go to open houses and make yourself familiar with the agents, so that they get to know you on a name basis, and know what you're after."
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