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With inventory so low in Cali you must think outside the box.  I’m willing to go there with you! Laura.A.Key@gmail.com

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It may seem like an odd question, but apparently, you can! 

The shortage of homes on the market right now is driving both real estate agents and consumers to get creative in their efforts to find their dream home. One recent survey reports a dramatic drop in the number of homes for sale in 2013 (specifically, they say that there are 14% fewer homes for sale this year than in years past). One prime example of this shortage is in Orange County, California, where there are 9000 fewer homes on the market than there were three years ago!
 
With the spring season upon us, realtors have been using their creativity to try and coax potential sellers out into the market, but even with their efforts, there is still a major lack of inventory. Although it may prove to be a challenge, it is still possible to find homes that aren’t even on the market yet. If you’re patient enough, you can be first on the list should a home go up for sale!
 
How do you do it?
 
One way is to look for homes where the current owner has defaulted on their loan. There is a period of time before the bank forecloses on the home where you can make an offer to a homeowner who may be struggling with paying their mortgage. By approaching the homeowner before the bank forecloses, you can save the homeowner from foreclosure and buy a home that hasn’t been listed yet. 
 
By doing some research, you may be able to find potential sellers that previously had their home on the market, but took it off either because of the lousy market, or for other reasons. When you find one, send a letter to the homeowner, and ask them to contact you should they decide to relist their home, or make them an offer worth consideration even if they had changed their mind about selling. 
 
(One thing to be careful of when contacting homeowners is that it is illegal to place something in another person’s mailbox. Either mail the letter through post office, or leave the letter at the front door.) 
 
You may also be surprised to discover that there are websites where people “list” their homes at their fantasy price. Although these are not official listings, you may find a home where their fantasy price isn’t that far off from your reality price! By searching for these homes, you at least can get an idea of people who could be persuaded to sell if you are willing to make their fantasy a reality. 
 
Finally, to buy a house that isn’t for sale, take a shot in the dark and contact homeowners of houses you love. Although this is a long shot, people have actually been known to sell their homes in these situations. Mail the owner a letter about why you love their home, and why you are so interested in purchasing it. Ask the homeowner to contact you and let you know if they have any intentions whatsoever, or to contact you first should they ever decide to sell. 
 
The trick to reaching out this way is to be flexible and to offer scenarios that may be mutually beneficial. For example, you may offer to rent out the home after purchase for a period of time while the homeowners search for another house. It may seem like a long shot, but it’s definitely worth a try if you really love the house!

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