How to buy a house without revealing the buyers name?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How to buy a house without revealing the buyers name?

We want to buy a neighbor’s house that is going on the market with an agent in about a week. We don’t want the sellers to know we are the buyers since we have traditionally not got along with them and we feel if they knew we were the buyers it would affect their willingness to sell. We can pay cash for the house by borrowing against different collateral, so there will not be a loan on the purchased house involved. We only plan to own the house for about 6 months so that we can removed some easements and add some other easements

to the purchased property. Ideally, they buyer is not an LLC or a Trust since we worry that would invite the seller to inquire more about the buyer’s identity. We thought about having a trusted friend be the buyer with a

side agreement with the friend that they are required to sell it to us after closing. Is this the best idea? Can that side agreement with the friend be completely binding or do I need to worry about complications after friend purchases?

Asked on December 8, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Do NOT have a friend buy your house with your money and put the home in his name. Yes, you can have a contract requiring him to sell it to you, but:
1) Say that he sells it to someone else and pockets the money--you'd have to sue him for the money and then are not guaranteed to get it if he loses it, spends it, hides it effectively, can file bankruptcy, etc.
2) Say he does something and is sued while he owns the property, or has a lawsuit or claim pending against him while he owns it: the creditor or plaintiff might try to put a lien on it.
3) Say he simply decides to not sell to you--even if you can enforce the agreement to sell against him, do you want to go to the cost and expense of a lawsuit to get your own property?
Putting something as valuable as a home in another person's name is risky. Use a trust or LLC.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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