As the demand for homes outpaced supply during the pandemic, the rest of the country received a glimpse of what California home buyers have experienced for years: desperate buyers, bidding wars, and properties being snatched up before a “For Sale” sign appeared in the yard.
Also known as “Pocket” or “quiet” listings, off-market houses are homes that are for sale but haven’t been listed publicly yet. Sellers opt for this quiet approach for a variety of reasons, but it is particularly common in luxury home markets where sellers may be concerned about privacy. In highly competitive markets like the Bay Area, the National Association for Realtors has cracked down recently on how these pre-market listings can be promoted. The results of these efforts mean you will not see “Coming Soon” signs posted or receive a postcard in the mail about an upcoming home for sale.
How is a pocket listing different from a regular listing?
Regular listings are displayed publicly on the MLS system, which makes detailed information broadly available to anyone and includes comprehensive photos, pricing history, neighborhood sales statistics, and more. This means realtors and the general public all have access to these listings.
Pocket listings home details are limited to a specific realty team, and details are shared within that office, and with any potential buyers they are working with.
Benefits for buyers
Better price with fewer bidders involved
Greater probability of your offer being accepted
Streamlined, less stressful transaction process
Quicker paperwork and easier closing process
Benefits for sellers
- No open house planning or staging is required
- No costly repairs in advance of listing
- You only get serious buyers and avoid curiosity seekers
- Typically sell for a higher price when a buyer submits a high offer to make sure there is no other competition
- More privacy
Connect with the right agent
If you are seeking an off-network advantage as a buyer, you may have to do a little more homework beyond simply calling a nearby realtor. If there is a specific neighborhood you are interested in, you’ll want to find the top agents for that area. Some inquiries to make when selecting the right real estate professional are:
- How experienced are they?
- How well do they know the areas where you are interested in purchasing a home?
- How much housing inventory do they represent in the market you are interested in?
- How many years in the business do they have?
- What are their closed transaction sales in those markets?
- How well connected are they in the community where you want to live?
- What is their reputation in the community?