San Francisco realtors fight private listings with ‘RealTime MLS’

The San Francisco Association of Realtors (SFAR) is taking action to try and prevent more homeowners from ‘secretly’ listing their homes, instead of listing them on the MLS. Last year, a study by PocketList found that 25 percent of all home sales in the city took place ‘off-market’.

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SFAR says that selling homes off market could leave sellers and agents open to lawsuits for fair housing violations.

“A lawsuit could come from a home buyer who felt they weren’t allowed to put in a bid on a home,” Jay Pepper-Martens, the director of the MLS, told “There are a whole bunch of opportunities for abuse.”

Pepper-Martens did however, admit that there were reasons why sellers would want to list their homes privately, such as being able to ward off public attention or test out the pricing. To cater for these individuals, Pepper-Martens said the San Francisco MLS has introduced a new system for pre-marketing listings – RealTime MLS, which allows agents to market properties to other agents, without making them available to the general public.

“We want an option that makes more sense,” Pepper-Martens told “RealTime MLS is our response to this problem. … I think we’ve found a good balance between all agents getting a crack at it and still some exclusivity.”

The rules of RealTime MLS state that properties can be listed there for up to 30 days, after which the property must be removed or moved to the regular MLS.

Now, Pepper-Martens wants to get industry support for his idea, which went live back in November of last year. Currently, there are about 450 unique users on the RealTime MLS, and an app is set to be launched next month.

About Mike Wheatley

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at