Door-to-door sightings: ‘Interested in selling your house?’

After receiving two inquiries this hour regarding someone going door-to-door in Arbor Heights asking if people are interested in selling their homes, we’re wondering if this is happening on a more widespread basis, and if you have any firsthand experience with it. Both people who mentioned it say the man didn’t offer a card – one family said “no” and he left, the other pointed out houses for sale nearby, and they were given a handwritten note with a phone number. If you work in real estate or development, is this a legit, common tactic? We have heard realtors say they need more houses to sell, but not necessarily that they’re going door-to-door looking for them.

34 Replies to "Door-to-door sightings: 'Interested in selling your house?'"

  • Ferryboat June 23, 2014 (7:32 pm)

    No door-to-door, but did have a phone call a few weeks ago. They said they were from Windermere and were doing a survey of neighborhoods. Are you able to tell us any more about where in AH this was happening, the time, and what the person looked like?

    • WSB June 23, 2014 (7:37 pm)

      @Ferryboat – I don’t know for sure if it’s the same guy. One person, who is near 98th/32nd, mentioned no description beyond “well-dressed.” Other person, who didn’t mention vicinity aside from AH, only mentioned “5’10”, white, mid 30s.” Since no crime was committed, description not that big a deal, but I’m really interested in whether it’s actual real-estate agents looking for inventory or the lowball semi-scammy types just hoping to hit someone who is in bad financial straits and thinking about it … or something else! It was noted last week (Redfin post here) that Seattle is one of the top home-flipping markets in the country right now. – TR

  • ocean June 23, 2014 (7:34 pm)

    I always thought that, if I somehow hit a huge jackpot, I’d go up to a house I had admired and ask the owners if they’d like to sell, then give them an offer they would love!

    = )

  • NorskGirl June 23, 2014 (7:38 pm)

    I was called at home a couple weeks ago by someone claiming affiliation with John L. Scott. He inquired if I was interested in selling my house (Genesee area). I thought the call was probably genuine…a cold call attempting to drum up business. Nobody has come to the house (“No Soliciting” sign quite clear).

  • Rain City West June 23, 2014 (7:44 pm)

    We got one tonight at 730p from Kirkland area phone. The guy was polite and wanted to make an offer on our house. We declined and asked not to be called again.

  • Graham Morgan June 23, 2014 (8:01 pm)

    I have never had a door-to-door contact, but every few weeks, I receive snail mail from real estate agents saying they have a client interested in purchasing either (a) properties in West Seattle or (b) my property at address XYZ. I suspect the clients are more often than not developers looking to tear them down and put in as many units as they can get away with – not gonna do it:) The properties they are referring to are triplexes.

  • cjboffoli June 23, 2014 (8:02 pm)

    I recently noticed a couple of poorly made, hand-lettered signs attached to light poles on westbound WS freeway (just past Walking on Logs) that seem to be seeking houses to buy and listing contact information. When I saw them it seemed incongruous that someone with the assets to buy houses couldn’t afford better signs. Wonder if they are related to the guy(s) going door to door.

  • businessasusualactually June 23, 2014 (8:05 pm)

    I heard about those cold-call inquiries here in Highland Park over the past four years. Not scammers necessarily.

    I read a story that the owner of Facebook bought his San Francisco home the same way. Had the money and he liked it. SO why not ask? He got the house.

    It does happen with legitimate transactions.

    On the other hand.

    There are definitely groups of individuals seeking out distressed home owners for the past few years – taking their properties by Deed of Trust through “note writing” groups which allow the people to stay in the home until X amount of time…and then the person gets the house in full title. There is such a group currently who are layering a lease-to-own layer or two on top of that for a “scamy” profit, to say the least.

    I pointed the state Department of Revenue to the locations – there were over sixty of them under two people’s “groups”. All local.

    But they obscure the paper by changing one initial or misspelling from document to document. Hard to track.

    Unless one is highly motivated. Like a professional journalist. :)

  • Kate June 23, 2014 (9:13 pm)

    Hasn’t happened to me, but I know it’s common practice in cities where real estate is in high demand. When we bought in West Seattle in 2013, our realtor said realtors were cold calling more often in neighborhoods like Ballard, but she hadn’t heard of it happening here.

  • Erin June 23, 2014 (9:45 pm)

    We received a handwritten note via USPS from someone expressing interest in buying our house. Upon investigating, just for fun, the return address seemed to be some apartments over a business in the Admiral neighborhood and the phone number was disconnected. We got a second letter maybe a month later, same story.

  • Rick June 23, 2014 (10:14 pm)

    I bought my house this way 18 years ago. I had told my wife several times about a house I saw and thought would be fun to buy. One day, she challenged me to make the call. – I did and believe it or not, the owner said they were thinking of sell. They kept asking how I knew. I did not know, however – I took a chance and it worked out. It’s true, you never know until you ask.

  • DTK June 23, 2014 (10:19 pm)

    R.I.P. West Seattle. Do you think she wants to be cremated?

  • jissy June 23, 2014 (10:23 pm)

    ocean: I have played that scenario out in my mind a hundred times…. would LOVE for someone to ring my bell and make me an offer and save the 6% agent fees!!! A girl can dream.

  • drahcir61 June 23, 2014 (10:24 pm)

    Saw a hand-written sign yesterday morning at 16th Ave SW & SW Myrtle (near SSCC) … “we buy houses, phone #”. Looked like it was written with a crayon!

  • heather June 23, 2014 (10:55 pm)

    I received a couple letters taped to the front door a few years after I bought – maybe 2006? I figured it’s because I’m a single house on a very large lot.

  • WestofJunction June 24, 2014 (6:06 am)

    I’ve gotten a whole bunch of mail inquiries regarding properties I own in other areas – including one from an investor looking to purchase rental homes – addressing a vacant lot (yes, I keep it well maintained, its just a separate tax parcel). I call these folks and ask them if this is something they get from a real estate investors seminar – they hem and haw- so I believe it is.

  • anonyme June 24, 2014 (6:33 am)

    I received another realtor investment offer in the mail just last week. I’m in Arbor Heights as well; sounds like they may be targeting our neighborhood. I also saw some well-dressed door-to-door types while out walking my dog last weekend, so I was sure to lock my gate when I got home.

    I don’t think this is ever a legitimate way to do business, and if they can’t even be bothered to type up a letter and copy it – well, that speaks volumes to both their legitimacy and professionalism.

  • Mike June 24, 2014 (6:55 am)

    3 houses in a 2 block area facing us have been bought, knocked down and replaced with bigger homes, one foundation just started. One was about $260k purchased and then sold for $650K

  • blockedpunt June 24, 2014 (7:46 am)

    Not that unusual. Since buying my townhouse near Morgan Junction in 2011, I’ve been approached by a few realtors knocking at the door. I simply say “not interested in selling” and ask not to be contacted about it again.
    A buddy of mine ended up selling his house in a bar to people he had been talking to for a few hours. Made some good $ off that deal. So, these “un-solicited” trasactions do occur. Nothing particularly wrong with that.

  • Community Member June 24, 2014 (8:08 am)

    The yellow signs that look hand-lettered have been put up all over the city, and are probably mass-produced. I believe that they intentionally look that way, so someone feels comfortable talking to a regular guy. They may be designed to catch the interest of sellers who think they’ll get a better deal if they work with an individual.
    When we were looking to buy a home in this area, our real estate agent sent letters to dozens of homes. That really does happen. We identified a neighborhood, then she looked through the records for properties of the right size. One owner was interested, and we toured his house and made an offer, but couldn’t agree on a price, as he wasn’t really all that interested in selling.
    Someone walking up to the door is an ENTIRELY different matter. It doesn’t sound like a professional real estate agent. I would be worried that it might be a way of casing the house for a future burglary. You say you’re interested, he seems real nice, after a while you show him around the house… It may not be that, but I think if you are interested you could ask him to mail you from his real estate office.

  • sophista-tiki June 24, 2014 (8:41 am)

    Door to door anything is not really a good idea in this day and age. I find it completely irritating that some random person would assume I’m just sitting around picking my nose waiting for them to interrupt me with their own agenda. I always say ” if I want something from you I’ll let you know”.

    Not to mention the whole real estate vulturing brings out an extra dose of snark in me. Not every inch of space needs to be redeveloped for some jackasses profit.

  • Melissa Huelsman June 24, 2014 (8:49 am)

    This is ABSOLUTELY not some people who really like your house and want it for themselves. These are people engaged in scams. They are using handwritten signs and are NOT using websites because websites contain information that can be used against them in subsequent litigation. These scams were rampant in the mid-2000s and they are certainly back again with our booming real estate market combined with employment still being down and people struggling to keep their homes. DO NOT discuss anything with these people. If you want to sell your house, find a reputable realtor who will work for you – not the buyer. Also consider consulting with a lawyer. A one hour consultation is a worthwhile expenditure to make sure that you are not being scammed. Your home is almost certainly your most valuable asset. DO NOT let it be taken from you at less than fair market value. There are also attorney non-profits available to assist with these issues. They are and There are also great housing counselors at, and DEFINITELY get help from people who are looking out for you rather than engaging with someone going door to door. That’s the sure sign of a scam. Legitimate business people don’t go door to door soliciting random offers of home purchasing.

  • sam-c June 24, 2014 (9:03 am)

    we only get notes (left at the door) asking if we want to buy a new roof lol. but yes, there is a house we really like and have thought about sending them a letter, asking them to call us if they ever sell..

  • businessasusualactually June 24, 2014 (9:36 am)

    Thanks Melissa for popping in with the links. Unfortunately, many of these victims, according to what I have observed, are non-English speaking and at a huge cultural and educational disadvantage. But there are also others who believe that big banks turned their backs on them and these predatory groups are benevolent in comparison when offers are made.

    Also there is little to any outreach from any of those organizations in these communities. The signage one sees is all about buying homes – I don’t think I’ve ever seen any on-the-street signage from a nonprofit agency offering counseling assistance. Because *that* is where outreach needs to be by these counseling npo’s.

    Many of these vulnerable homeowners do not read Internet news services in English, let alone the comment sections. The predators know that. So on the street they go.

  • Greg June 24, 2014 (9:51 am)

    I don’t see anything wrong with this at all- if I received a market-competitive offer from someone on my doorstep and I could side-step agents who have their own best interests to protect, then I would accept it!

  • wetone June 24, 2014 (10:33 am)

    Yes had it happen 2x in the last couple years. Both times it was a team of 2 that were very professional. Asked if I was interested in selling or if I knew of anyone that might be. I said no, they then asked if I wanted a free market evaluation I said sure both times and ended up getting a package in the mail a few weeks later by both teams. Both were 20-25 pages that included comps and good honest info of market at the time(I know the market). I was impressed and still have their cards today.
    That being said I do have to say that there are a few groups of investors that have a few realtors looking for property’s in this area and the rest of Seattle that are using some very shady tactics and flat out lying in order to obtain property’s so NEVER SIGN anything until you consult with a real estate attorney no matter what and it will be the best couple hundred dollars you ever spend. Especially if you decide to sell a property to a group that used a mailer or door to door inquirers. If using a realtor and you want best price make sure property makes it to open market as in having a open house and sign out front. Not something like I have a buyer they will pay your property tax value as that is fair market value.

  • Jennifer Hamilton June 24, 2014 (12:12 pm)

    This is a normal, but somewhat forgotten, tool in our real estate arsenal. As a productivity coach, I am suggesting to newer agents to start developing a presence in their community, and one way to go about that is door knocking an area you’d like to serve. Certainly they should have a business card and potentially some market information to share with you.

    Inventory is SO LOW in West Seattle, and many folks don’t understand what’s been happening lately in the local market–they just see the national news. Real Estate is hyper-local, and West Seattle is on fire! We need homes–the demand is there. If you won’t come to us, we have to come to you ;)

  • zark June 24, 2014 (12:59 pm)

    Any agent worth her/his salt will have a business card. Mostly new agents, or agents that don’t have a great network of clients, go door to door. From personal experience Lake Realty seem to know the micro-local WSea market better than others.

  • Mo June 24, 2014 (3:36 pm)

    We’ve had friends do this in the Atlanta market and it worked. They sent out letters to homes in the specific neighborhood they wanted to live in and were able to side step using real estate agents (a perk for the seller) because their mother was a real estate agent and would handle everything for free.
    We thought it was odd when they did this but it apparently happens all the time. It is not necessarily a scam and at times it is a real estate agent suggesting this!

  • naboo June 24, 2014 (4:51 pm)

    I received a letter from a couple in the mail asking if I would sell. I just tossed it. No reason to follow-up unless I was remotely interested.

  • 1000amys June 24, 2014 (6:45 pm)

    That guy came by our house in Riverview a week or two go. Said he was looking for houses to buy in the neighborhood and gave us his info on a handwritten note. Not interested in a specific house.

  • linda June 24, 2014 (7:01 pm)

    When I was little..growing up in West Seattle..everyone went door to door..fuller brush, avon, paperboy collecting, my dad running for state representative etc.if only it happened more often these days people wouldn’t be so suspicious when actually confronted face to face.

  • Gabby June 24, 2014 (8:16 pm)

    A few weeks ago, a guy in a new sporty pickup truck pulled over while I was planting my raised veggie beds on the curb strip. He asked if I’d noticed any ‘for sale by owner’ homes around the neighborhood. He was clearly a house flipper type. This was in Gatewood / Westwood area.

  • msmith June 25, 2014 (8:03 am)

    Great way to get inside someone’s house to case it out and come back later and steal everything! It amazes me that most of the commenters on this article haven’t figured out the “interest in their houses” may have nothing to do with real estate.

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