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What to Know About Off-Market Homes For Sale

By Bill Gassett | February 13, 2023

Off-market properties might be the answer if you want to avoid competition from other buyers when looking for your next home. These home sales are sometimes known as pocket listings or quiet homes and aren’t added to the multiple listing services.

Finding a buyer for a home not featured in the MLS requires more work from the real estate agent and used to be very unusual. However, they have become more popular with higher demand in the past few years.

Finding off-market properties for sale can be a challenge. Some methods will make it more straightforward.

Listing your home off the market might not seem like a good option, but it offers some advantages to sellers and buyers.

Off-Market Properties
What Are Off-Market Houses For Sale?

How Off-Market Properties can Benefit Sellers?

If the seller wants to keep details of their home sale private, off-market is an option. It can be used to test how much interest there might be in the market. It can also be a way to reduce commission, as there will only be one real estate agent involved.

It has sometimes been used to reduce the days on market, making it less likely that the seller receives lowball offers when it looks like there hasn't been much interest.

How Off-Market Homes For Sale Benefits Buyers?

There are a couple of benefits for buyers with this type of listing. If you are looking to buy a home in a hot market, this type of listing gives you access to properties most other buyers won't see.

With limited exposure for the seller, it is unlikely there will be multiple buyers trying to purchase.

Bidding wars will be far less frequent, allowing buyers not to eliminate common contingencies like a home inspection or real estate appraisal.

It might be the only way to purchase a house in challenging buying situations.

Sometimes these types of listings can offer better value, as the seller isn't paying as much commission and can drop their price.

When buying investment properties, finding off-market listings is a great option.

The End of  Some Off-Market Listings?

In 2020, the National Association of Realtors released the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy, requiring Realtors to list homes in the MLS within one business day.

Though this isn't a law, it is a rule that most real estate agents must follow. Since most real estate agents and brokers are Realtors and, therefore, NAR members, it makes off-market listings less likely.

However, this requirement from the NAR doesn't altogether remove the option of listing a home off the market.

How to Find Off-Market Properties?

Sellers can opt out of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and prevent their home listening from being available online.

Another possibility is to keep the listing as an office exclusive, where only other Realtors in the same brokerage will see the listing and show it directly to buyers.

Statement 8.0 has reduced some of the options for off-market listings. Previously, this included private networks, delayed showings, and coming soon listings.

A local MLS now has more control over coming soon listings which stops agents from showing them to buyers ahead of time.

If you want to find some off-market listings, you have a few options:

Contact Real Estate Agents

If you know where you want to buy a home, contact real estate agents operating in that area and find out if they have any office-exclusive listings.

Check Online

You could find some off-market listings on Zillow, as they still run programs and are unaffected by the NAR rule.

You might also see some For Sale By Owner properties listed online on sites like Craigslist or Facebook.

You can also do a Google search and see owners selling without a real estate agent.

Knocking on Doors

If you like a particular area, you could talk directly to homeowners. Knocking on a few doors or even mailing flyers could get a response.

If a property in the area is neglected, perhaps the owner would welcome an offer. You could find a great bargain if you don't mind a property needing renovation.

As a service to their clients, many buyer's agents will do a mass mailing into neighborhoods that buyers love.

Sometimes you can get lucky and find a seller who has been considering selling. You could strike gold if the seller doesn't decide to test the market. They may be happy with the terms you offer.

Buying an Off-Market Property

The process will be similar to a standard purchase if you find an off-market home. The difference will often be that the same agent represents both sides of the purchase.

This could create a conflict of interest where the agent cannot work for the buyer's and seller's best interests.

You should avoid dual agency if possible. If it's impossible, it makes sense to find an agent and pay them a consultant fee to help you make the best decisions.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been frustrated when missing out on a home you wanted, an off-market listing reduces the competition. Though there are fewer options to find this type of property, it could work out well if you find one.

Finding an off-market home for sale takes some patience. They are not always easy to find. Best of luck in your search!

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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