by Susan Pruden
September 28, 2014
Great - if you're playing pool!
But what if you're selling your home? Is that a good place to be? And just whose pocket are you in, anyway?
You have to know what a pocket listing is before you can decide if it works for you as a selling strategy - because that's what it is, a strategy, not a silver bullet.
The "pocket" in question is the listing agent's pocket - as in, you're hidden in the listing agent's pocket. If your agent is marketing your home before it goes "live" in the MLS, then your home being treated as a "Pocket Listing". The question is, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
As with most things real-estate related, the answer is "It depends". So let's explore.
Why might you want to be a pocket listing? You may not want people traipsing through your home. Timing may be more important to you than getting the highest price reasonably possible. Maybe you're a celebrity and value your privacy above all else. You may just find a buyer that is willing to pay a good price and meet your other terms in order to keep from competing on the open market.
And there's the rub. It's competition on the open market that is likely to bring you the best price and/or terms. Many real estate agents who tout the benefits of marketing your home privately are likely looking to sell your home themselves, thereby getting both sides of the commission. There are companies who extol the virtues of not putting your home in the MLS for a week or two, but marketing it "in-house". They may state that they'll have more control over the process, but the real reason to do this as a matter of course is to get more business for your company. Not exactly promoting your best interests, is it?
There are also some concerns that pocket listings may present a fair housing issue, but that's more a problem for agents than sellers.
Not all homes that sell off-MLS are pocket listings. If I talk up your listing before it actually goes on the market, then I'm just building anticipation. And there are private sales all the time that don't fit this particular strategy. It's not illegal and it's not unethical, as long as you understand the pros and cons, and you go into it with your eyes wide open and your own best interests squarely in front of you.