You can make an offer on someone elses house without your being on the market but the vendor's estate agent will ask you if you have sold your own home to assess how likely it is that you wil be able to go through with your offer.
A lot of people will not put their house on the market without having found and had an offer accepted on another house. This is why the market has frozen up though as few vendors will accept offers without the other person payng full asking and also havng sold their own home. On the other hand few buyers will put their own home on the market without having found a house to buy. Its chicken and egg.
Agree with the others. As a recent seller, we received one offer close-ish to the asking price from someone who was very keen on the house (parents live 2 doors down) but whose own house was only just about to go on the market, and then received another offer £5k less that the first offer, but from people who were in rented and ready to move. So we accepted the lower offer because we knew the buyers were ready to go.
Well you COULD just get lucky in a case like that - it really depends whether they seem in any kind of hurry to move? If they have really no time pressure, and you can get yours on the market FAST then it's just possible they will wait for you.
In normal circs though I would say not much point as you are v. unlikely to get it accepted - in fact I found a lot of houses wouldn't even let you view unless you had sold your own house already!
Agree with others...you can do it, but it might not work.
We had accepted an offer on our house about a month ago, and made an appointment to see a house. Before we saw the house, we were told that our buyer couldn't get a mortgage and the sale was off. We liked the new house, made an offer....but were open about the situation.
Reality is that if someone else comes along who is in a position to move quicker than us, the sellers will go with them.
The elderly couple aren't in a hurry to move as their new property won't be ready until mid January at least.
Went to see the Estate Agent today who said he would keep our offer until ours was on the market and then make it if we wanted him too. He did ring the couple though and tell them that we were very, very interested and loved the house.