Lake House for Sale in Northern Michigan: Off-Market or For Sale by Owner Waterfront Properties Offer a Unique Opportunity for Buyers

Navigating Through Exclusive, Off-Market Opportunities

Off-market waterfront properties in Leelanau or Traverse City offer a distinct and exclusive opportunity for buyers who wish to engage in transactions that are smooth and private. These properties, not listed on traditional platforms (the MLS, Zillow,, Redfin, Trulia, etc.) can be accessed through specific channels like seasoned real estate agents, private networks, and exclusive buyer’s clubs.

Why Opt for Off-Market Properties?

Choosing an off-market property, especially in sought-after locations like Traverse City and Leelanau County, ensures that your transaction is conducted with utmost privacy and without the typical competition encountered on public listings. This can often facilitate more favorable terms, especially for buyers.

The Buyer’s Advantage in Off-Market Transactions

Choosing an off-market Traverse City Waterfront Home or a property in Leelanau County often allows buyers to navigate away from the typical competition found on public listings. This exclusivity can facilitate smoother transactions and potentially more favorable terms for buyers, given the reduced competition and private negotiation environment.

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The Seller’s Dilemma: The Cost of Avoiding Commission

While sellers might be tempted to go off-market or opt for a “For Sale by Owner” approach in an attempt to avoid real estate commissions, this strategy can often backfire financially. By not exposing the property to the wider market, sellers might inadvertently cost themselves significant financial gains—sometimes to the tune of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lack of exposure to a wider pool of potential buyers often limits bidding wars and, by extension, the final sale price. In situations where sellers of waterfront properties are not as concerned about gleaning the best price or the best terms but are more concerned about the legacy of the property (most often selling or gifting the property to very close friends or family members), doing an off-market deal can make sense. Most often, sellers will not maximize value by selling “For Sale by Owner” or off-market.

Working with an experienced agent (especially an agent who utilizes target marketing on top of the traditional methods of listing the property on the MLS, Zillow,, Redfin, etc.) most often will deliver much more value to sellers than that “pesky commission” they have to pay:) For sellers, it really comes down to exposing your property to the widest number of potential buyers. As a seller, the negotiation process is tipped in your favor when there are multiple buyers interested in your property. So, while there can be some advantages for sellers in particular situations who may want to sell their waterfront home “off-market,” I usually don’t recommend it to my sellers, especially if they want to garner the very best price and terms. After all, you only get one bite at that apple. And peace of mind matters. As a seller, most often you want the peace of mind that you got the very best deal and that really can only be achieved by exposing your waterfront home to the open market (and having an agent who utilizes target marketing). That’s why 99% of the time I recommend selling on the open market as opposed to selling “off market” or “For Sale by Owner.” Watch this YouTube video for one example of the HUGE difference taking a property to market versus selling “off-market” can make.

Back to Buyers of "Off Market" Waterfront Properties.

But for buyers seeking to buy coveted waterfront properties in Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties, “off-market” or “For Sale by Owner” properties can sometimes present rare opportunities to get a waterfront home at a significant discount. It’s been my experience that “For Sale by Owner” properties, whether they are on the waterfront or not, tend to be either significantly over priced or significantly under priced. The under priced ones don’t last long, so you need to be prepared! The over priced ones stay unsold until either the owner gets realistic or they ultimately list with an experienced Realtor.

All in all, “off-market” or “For Sale by Owner” Waterfront Homes present a great opportunity for buyers and should be a significant part of your strategy when looking to purchase a Waterfront property in Northern Michigan.

Strategizing Your Purchase or Sale of Leelanau County Waterfront Property

Buying or Selling Waterfront Property in Northern Michigan is a significant investment of resources: money, time, and energy. Whether you’re considering buying or selling real estate, strongly consider partnering with an experienced real estate agent who can represent your interests. For buyers, aligning yourself with a real estate agent who is (1) experienced in off-market properties, (2) trusted in the community, and (3) a strong negotiator can be very advantageous.  For sellers, working with a trusted agent who listens to your particular circumstance –the goals you want to achieve with the sale of your property and you concerns–and then customizes a marketing and sales campaign to your needs can provide you with the peace of mind you deserve when selling a tremendous asset like a waterfront property. 

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