What is a pocket listing?

By Michelle Walman and Stacy Blair Young

What is a pocket listing, and why would a seller want to sell their listing privately?  A pocket, quiet, or off market listing is one that is listed by a realtor, but is not published in the local multiple listing service or any other online real estate portals. It does not appear in any advertising that will reach the general public, i.e. websites, postcards, social media, newsletter, etc.

The listing is handled in the same manner as any other listing, with the exception of to whom it’s marketed.  An agent still handles all the listing paperwork and disclosures and has photos and a virtual tour taken of the property, but markets it only to realtors he/she knows may have clients for the specific listing. Some realtors belong to private networking groups with other agents and let them know when a property is coming on the market that may not appear in the multiple listing service.

You might ask why a seller, who wants to sell their home, would want to keep their listing private or quiet.  There are myriad reasons.   A seller may be going through a terrible divorce requiring them to sell their home as part of the divorce settlement.  Some people prefer to keep their private matters private. Another seller may have just experienced a death in their family that necessitates them selling their home and they’re simply having a difficult time dealing with the grief that ensues, not wanting to add another layer of change to their grief.

Some sellers are in the public eye, such as celebrities, and don’t want to draw attention to themselves nor do they want the public to drive by their homes or arranging an appointment to see the property just to get a glimpse of them or their lifestyle. There are numerous scenarios that might lend themselves to a seller wishing to keep the sale of their home private.

It’s like getting a behind the scenes tour at a sporting or theatre event: it’s private, the parties are carefully vetted, and the entire process occurs quietly while adhering to all the tenets one would normally practice. Of course, the best way to sell a home is to put it on the open market, allowing as many buyers to see the property as possible to obtain the highest price in the current market.

There are pros and cons to a pocket listing.  The biggest advantage is privacy, as a seller may be drawing from a smaller pool of buyers. If you’re a buyer, you’re probably not going to be competing with other buyers, or at least as many other buyers as you would if the listing was marketed publicly.

A seller may offer more flexibility in the price and terms offered.  However, sometimes a seller may expect a buyer to pay a premium for not having to compete with other buyers.  Your agent is the best person to guide you through this process.

Where do you find pocket listings?  The best way is to ask your agent.  Many agents have their own pocket listings, but also belong to private networking groups who regularly share their pocket listings.  Having been realtors for over 25 years, we have extensive connections throughout the industry providing us access to the network of private listings. If you have any questions on pocket listings, or wish to buy or sell through pocket listing, we are here to talk. Michele Wallman can be reached at 310-704-0811, and Stacy Blair Young’s office number is 424-203-1800.