Cons of Off-MLS Listings:
Consumers and Real Estate Agents Should Know
By Maya Thomas, Realtor,
Sellstate Island Properties
While not a new concept for veteran real estate agents, the
terms â€œoff-MLSâ€ or â€œpocketâ€ listings may be an unfamiliar phrase to many consumers
and some newer agents.Â Home sellers and
agents should nevertheless be aware that the practice can adversely affect
their goal of getting the best price reasonably possible for their homes. Â As many as 10-15 percent of homes offered for
sale today are â€œoff-MLSâ€ listings, according to one Multiple Listing Service
If youâ€™re considering selling your home, think about the
advantages and disadvantages of pocket listings.
What is an â€œoff-MLSâ€
Simply stated, an off-MLS or pocket listing is a property
that is marketed without the benefit of being listed for sale on the MLS (i.e.,
â€œhiddenâ€ in an agentâ€™s pocket). 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. Active marketing on the MLS usually includes
open houses, broker tours and inclusion of sellerâ€™s property in the MLSâ€™s
download to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for
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.
Are off-MLS listings
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. Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe
that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of the property owner â€“
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 some 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.
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 â€“ an important consideration at a time when multiple offers
above the asking price are commonplace in many neighborhoods. A recent survey
of San Francisco Bay Area real estate agents conducted by MLS Listings, Inc.
revealed that 74 percent of respondents believe an off-MLS listing decreases
the chance a seller will obtain the highest and best price for his or her
Off-MLS listings also may impact real estate values on a
larger scale. Property price evaluations completed on behalf of mortgage
lenders â€“ more commonly known as â€œappraisalsâ€ and a vital precursor to a
homebuyer obtaining a mortgage loan â€“ may be affected in communities where
there are a significant number of homes being offered as off-MLS listings. Thatâ€™s
because not all off-MLS listings are entered into the MLS database once a
property is sold. Without this critical information, it is more difficult for real
estate agents and their sellers to determine a listing price, for agents and
their buyers to decide how much to offer for a property, and for appraisers to determine
the current market value of a property.
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 (Seller Instruction to Exclude
Listing from the MLS). Â 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.
And you may want to tell your agent that even if your home is
not on the MLS, you want your agent to show and present all offers from both
inside and outside his or her network.
# # #
Maya Thomas is a
REALTORÂ® with Sellstate Island Properties, 1101 Simonton St., Key West, FLÂ 33040.Â
www.ListingsKeyWest.comÂ www.ShowcasePortfolioProperties.comÂ MyRealPro@gmail.comÂ (305) 522-1398