An “off-MLS” or pocket listing is a property that is marketed without the benefit of being listed for sale on the MLS. A property that is listed on the MLS has the advantage of being actively marketed to every real estate agent who belongs to that MLS and, through those agents, to their vast network of potential buyers looking to make an offer to purchase the property. Read: Secret Real Estate Listings You Won’t Find on the Market. Active marketing on the MLS usually includes open houses, broker tours and inclusion of seller’s property in the MLS’s download to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for properties.
On the other hand, as the term implies, an off-MLS listing generally is marketed by a single agent to one or a select few potential buyers. The marketing pool can be so small that in some cases, other agents within the same brokerage or brokerage office may not even be aware that a fellow agent has an off-MLS listing. Here are some answered questions about off-MLS listings.
Are off-MLS listings illegal?
It depends. They are not illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to the home seller and follows rules that are designed to protect consumers. Read: Is a Listing in the Pocket Worth Two in the MLS? Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of the property owner; particularly if a client does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS. To keep a listing off the MLS, a listing agent who is a participant of an MLS is required, under the rules of most MLSs, to obtain a signed certification from the seller that he or she does not wish to sell the property via the MLS.
Why would a home seller agree to an off-MLS listing?
Off-MLS listings sometimes are requested by celebrities, judges, prosecutors, or others who wish to maintain their privacy and/or limit viewing of their property to a select individual or individuals with the financial wherewithal to purchase. See: Off-MLS is Off-Base.
Are there reasons a home seller should avoid an off-MLS listing?
Yes. Most importantly, an off-MLS listing generally does not get the broad market exposure that a property listed on the MLS gains. That can significantly reduce the number of potential offers to purchase that a property seller may receive, which is an important consideration at a time when multiple offers above the asking price are commonplace in many neighborhoods.
What should I do if an agent approaches me with an offer to sell my home as an off-MLS listing?
Ask your agent about the pros and cons of selling your home off-MLS. One advantage is that your listing remains private if you wish to maintain privacy. However, a disadvantage is your home may not be exposed to the full population of available buyers, which means there may be less competition among fewer buyers, resulting in a lower selling price.
If you decide to list your home off-MLS, your agent may ask you to sign a standard seller exclusion form. Be sure you fully understand what you are signing and the adverse consequences outlined in the form of not listing your property on the MLS.