Hi Reddit Real Estaters,

My husband and I are strongly considering putting an offer in on our across-the-street neighbor’s house and I’m hoping some of you may have some words of wisdom to help us go about this appropriately.

Some background: we are young 30s, two very young children, have been renting our current house directly across the street from the seller for 6 years. We are excellent neighbors and tenants and take exceptional care of our house and garden (if I do say so myself). We’ve asked our own elderly landlady if she would be willing to sell us our rental but she turned us down, saying the capital gains would be terrible. We’re content to rent until the time is right as we love our neighborhood and don’t want to move unless the situation is perfect.

We live in an area with a VERY hot real estate market where the land value is absurdly high. Our own rental has increased in value by nearly 300k since we’ve lived here, but most nearby properties are being sold to developers who are tearing down and building up. This is likely what will happen to our neighbor’s house.

Our neighbor is a lovely woman, she lives alone and takes very good care of her house. It’s one of the last smaller ones on the block (like our rental), it has a number of unique and well-maintained interior features, and has a gorgeous well-kept garden. We’re friendly with her — say hello and make polite conversation about the weather, the neighborhood, our respective gardens, etc. We don’t have a super close relationship with her but know one another by name.

When we saw the Coming Soon sign, we bumped into her and told her we were sorry to see her go and we hoped any future buyer would maintain her garden as beautifully as she did. She agreed. We’ve since crunched the numbers and gotten pre-approved, though I suspect our pre-approval will come in short of the list price. We may have a slight edge in that we would be raising our family there, would not tear it down, and would keep her prized garden up and running, but in our market that edge seems next to nothing compared to $$$.

We think the right move is to let our neighbor know that we’re thinking about making an offer before it officially goes in the market. How would you recommend we go about that? Just knock on her door? Write a letter? I don’t want to insult her with a low offer or outrageous expectations — we’re aware it’s a long shot but depending on the official list price we want to give it a shot.

Thanks in advance!

ETA: A few more questions as I continue to think through this.

1) Is there a percentage threshold where an offer WOULD be insulting? My thinking was that we would tell her we were considering it, wait to see the list price, and then either put an offer in or let her know it’s too far out of our range.

2) We want to be respectful above anything else. Any advice on how to navigate this in a neighborly way is so appreciated.

3) We don’t currently have a realtor as we’re really not technically house hunting. Do we desperately need one? There isn’t much that would turn us off from buying the house so our thought was we’d just contact her realtor and hire our own lawyer to do the paperwork.

4) As you can probably tell we’re real estate newbs, desperately trying to buy into our current neighborhood. Our priorities are not offending anyone (first) and buying a house in our neighborhood (a very close second). I’m congenial and a bit deferential by nature and hate to blur the line but we’re trying to find the opportunities as they come.

submitted by /u/amievenamillenial
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