What's the best way to find out about pocket listings?

Asked by SF Shopper, Thu Mar 14, 2013

I am interested in buying a condo in a few specific buildings. It seems like there are a number of brokers who have pocket listings -- how do I find out about these, if they aren't listed on MLS? Do they get posted on Craigslist or somewhere else, or is it just word-of-mouth?

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Alexander P. Delgado’s answer
Alexander P.…, , Encino, CA
Tue Apr 30, 2013
Yes, our pocket listings are syndicated to all the real estate search engines, like Zillow, Trulia and the rest and it goes worldwide. Without the use of MLS.

Our site allows you to search for pockets anywhere. Word of mouth is not going to work very good. Over exposure but with total privacy for our clients of all sorts not just celebrities and athletes and media executives is the key.

0 votes
khjg kjhg, Agent, Oaktown, CA
Wed Sep 3, 2014
Brokers aren't the best source for pocket listings. If a listing broker wanted other brokers to know about their listing they'd simply put it on the MLS (as that's what it's for) but in a pocket listing the listing broker has deliberately kept the listing 'in his pocket' and off the MLS. So you'd need to contact hundreds of listing brokers to be aware of all the pocket listings in the area.

This post was so long ago that my advice probably doesn't matter to much to you anymore but others may see it. There is a company that I've found that assists with this...Privy Property. Give them a try.
Web Reference:  http://privyproperty.com
1 vote
Adam Gavzer, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Jun 20, 2014
Top agents in the areas that you are considering are a great resource for pocket listings. We have a private group that we subscribe to called Top Agent Network. This is where many agents post their pocket listings or Coming Soon listings. So connecting with someone who specializes in your neighborhood or type of property is a great place to begin. Most of these pocket listings are not publicized on Craiglist unless the listing agent is using it to pick up buyers. Top Agent Network is designed to share our listings with "top agents" before we bring them to the full market.
1 vote
Josh Barnett, Agent, Carney, OK
Tue Dec 3, 2013
Send a direct mail campaign out to all the owners of the buildings you would like to live in and let them know you are in the market and looking to purchase.
1 vote
Leopold A Ro…, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
About sixteen years ago I published a primer on pocket listings for a class I was teaching. Since then, consent to withhold from MLS forms have arrived. But the basic concept holds: swear undying loyalty to every agent out there if only he or she would share with you and only you, that elusive pocket listing …..

Good luck.

Real Estate Broker 00849905
Attorney at Law
400 Montgomery 505
San Francisco CA 94104
Office: 415.781.3000
1 vote
That would be pretty tricky in my area. I couldn't believe it but about 75 percent of the homes listed and sold in my main stomping grounds were done by agents who only did so one or two times in the calendar year.

There were about 700 transactions and 45 or so of them were from one agent. Then there were two more or so with 20 listings sold and then a handful in the 5-or-6 category. From there it completely fell apart and the rest were pretty much all sold by different agents.

That would be a lot of agents to call.
Flag Tue Dec 17, 2013
UpNest, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Dec 2, 2016
The best way to find out about pocket listings is through a realtor who knows the insider secrets of the local area. An agent with the right connections will unveil several listings before they are marketed to the public. UpNest.com can help you narrow down your search and find the right realtor with the best connections.
0 votes
Coffeewakejo…, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Sat Nov 26, 2016
Hi im Brett , im in need of pocket listings for , single family houses , multi unites , condos , , in , Southern ,Ca LA 20 mile radius , then warehouses in sacramento ,Ca il tell you exact cities on Southern ,Ca when we talk hope saturday morning please reply , looking foreward to talking by
0 votes
Jameslstewar…, Home Buyer, Pompano Beach, FL
Sun May 10, 2015
Anything Con to fool the buyer. Use common since here people. If the house is worth the money, why hide it? This is just another rip off ploy from real estate thieves...
0 votes
Jennifer Fiv…, Agent, Red Hook, NY
Fri Sep 5, 2014
Since you know the specific building you are interested in, why not engage a Buyer's Agent who would do the research on your behalf?
0 votes
Edward, Agent, Ocean Breeze Park, FL
Mon Mar 17, 2014
Actually a new website http://www.donahueauction.com will have a bunch of Pocket Listings.
DonahueAuction.com will be launching April 1st 2014 both residential & Commercial Properties,,,,
0 votes
David Harvey, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Dec 16, 2013
It's helpful to work with an agent who is either a part of the SOMA broker community or a large brokerage.

The foreign agents have great points. An agent working on your behalf will reach out to the brokerage community as well as contact all owners of properties you are interested in buying.

I'd be happy to provide my real estate service.

0 votes
Paul Warrin, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Dec 13, 2013
The best way to find out about pocket listings is to work with an agent. Personally, I've sold many properties off market, or pocket listings. Having a large network allows me to connect with a multitude of agents throughout the city and stay on top of off market properties. There are a few different sites that agents use to market their pocket listings. If you would like me to help you find an off market condo, please contact me.

Paul Warrin
Sotheby's International Realty
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sat Dec 7, 2013
SF SHOPPER (not buyer)
Ask your REALTOR if they participate in the "First Look" plan, a network of real estate professionals who leverage the 'Second' of four invisible markets.
Buyers who are accepted into this program must demonstrate they are serious about buying a home, AND willing to pay MARKET VALUE. Sorry,,,,if you just looking, you won't be accepted. If you are a lowballer, sorry...not for you. If you submit a lowball, you will get booted. This plan is for those who are serious, ready to buy and able to buy.
If you trolling Trullia or Zillow for homes.....that's red flan #1 you are not a serious buyer.
Again, the benefit of FIRST LOOK is for serious buyers only. And yes, you willl see the home before anyone else. The process is extremely convenient and low stress. Ever wonder how the good home are sold in less that one day? They were sold BEFORE they were entered into the MLS.
Best of success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Tue Dec 3, 2013

You have received some excellend information about "pocket listings" but the most essential thing to remember is that these are arrangements in which there is really no firm commitment on the part of the seller to sell their property.....there is no listing contract in place and therefore no obligation on the part of the owner to sell, "at any terms." Thus, you could be chasing your tail with these offerings.

Best wishes,

0 votes
This isn't necessarily true. Some agents who have developed large lists of buyers looking for homes in their area require their sellers who list with them to allow them a "preview week" (or something like that) where only they, the listing agent, can show the home. If the agent can't sell it themselves in the first week then it goes on the MLS open market. This is all fine and good if the sellers are up for it and sign the requried C.Y.A. paperwork to keep on withing compliance on the MLS.
Flag Tue Dec 17, 2013
Best Bls, Home Buyer, Pittsburgh, PA
Mon Dec 2, 2013
Best way is to let the Sellers agent know about you and what type of home you want to buy, easy and free way to do this is post a Buyers Listing on the BestBLS.com (Best Buyers Listing Service), agents with pocket listings can see what you want to buy and will call you if there is a match, this makes it easy for the Sellers agent, so its a win win.
0 votes
Damon Bottic…, Agent, Las Vegas, NV
Thu Jul 11, 2013
Pocket listing are more common in some areas that others. I would suggest aligning yourself with a great local agent who is in the know and offer to pay a buyer's broker fee if they find you a property outside the MLS. When a serious buyer approaches me in this way and is willing to pay for my service, I will use all my available contacts to find what they're looking for...even contacting every unit owner to seek out someone who is willing to sell.
0 votes
Alina Aeby, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Dear SF Shopper,

Here is the thing: most of us belong to different professional organizations, where we meet other Realtors. Also, we attend our office meetings and we are the first to know about our colleagues listings before going to the MLS.

If it happens to have a perfect match and the seller will be happy with the price offered without going to the MLS, then it's great and everybody is happy. However, in this market, several different agents and their clients might be alerted by a pocket listing and I have seen multiple offers on pocket listings as well.

While there are plenty of properties changing hands off MLS, a lot of sellers still like to take their chance to the market and feel that they are going to miss some additional opportunities if they don't.

But working with a Realtor you will have an insight into the pocket listings market as well.


Alina Aeby-Broker Associate
Pacific Union International
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
By definition, a "pocket" listing is one that is not publicized.

Typically, it's a seller who isn't committed to selling. "If you found me a buyer at my price, I'd sell," they'll tell an agent. Great. Sometimes, they're telling handfuls or fistfuls or bucketfuls of agents all the same thing. What these sellers are actually thinking, I don't know.

Sometimes, though, an agent can pique a buyer's interest in an unlisted property, and try to put a deal together.

- Is the issue that the selling agents want to get both ends of the commission?

No, the issue is that the agent who knows about the seller wants to get some part of the commission. If the seller tells me, and I tell your agent, I'm left out in the cold.
0 votes
What happens when someone has a pocket listing, another agent brings a buyer and submits an offer over asking price and then the seller decides he doesn't want to sell? Is there any legal recourse against the seller?
Flag Mon Jan 27, 2014
SF Shopper, Home Buyer,
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Is the issue that the selling agents want to get both ends of the commission? Would it make a difference if I volunteered up front to have a separate agreement for me to pay my own agent outside of the deal?
0 votes
I think that it is more true that many agents would like to get "both ends" of the commission. This whole "both ends" thing though is really a mental hangup. Many agents see things the way they really are. In a 6% commission situation the LISTING AGENT is the one who always receives the full 6% commission. The 3% slice of that 6% is considered to be the single largest marketing expense. After all, on a $200k house the total commission is $12,000. You could buy a LOT of internet advertising through Google for $6,000. The fact that it i so willingly directed toward other agents shows how effective the Realtor MLS network is. Pocket listings, however, are the result of agents who are going back to their roots and trying to find ways to sell their listings themselves for full market value without the aid of the MLS. That's not to say that they won't have to spend $6,000 doing it anyway.
Flag Tue Dec 17, 2013
Lisa Cartola…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013

Pocket listings are typically sold via networking in the real estate community. I highly recommend working with an agent. Many buyers assume that if they find the listing agent that they will automatically have an in in getting their offer accepted. This does happen some, but many agents are not comfortable with and often sellers are not happy with, agents double ending.

Hope that helps!

Lisa Cartolano
Alain Pinel Realtors
DRE 01715440
0 votes
John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
In my area pocket listings are most often sold to a list of potential buyers supplied by the seller or to other agents in the listing agent's office. If the listing broker is unable to secure a buyer with his stable of inside agents, he'll start the process of circulating the property among other agents who are known to work with buyers who might have an interest in a property of the type offered. Getting in the flow of this information can be tough, even for agents. You may want to post notices at the condo complex if they have an accessable bulletin board. You may also want to contact the president of the HOA board. I manage rental condos in two facilities where owners are required to notify the HOA when they put their property on the market, even if it's with a pocket listing. The president may be gracious enough to post your desire to buy in the HOA's newsletter.
0 votes
Jae Ng, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Some do get posted on Craigslist but the best ones get sold by word of mouth / agent networking.
0 votes
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Choose an agent who networks well. Many properties do sell off market.
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
There are several sources for these - craigslist, email flyers direct to agents, top agent network (private online forum for top producing agents/brokers in the area) and networking to name a few.

An active, connected agent can find these for you, and it's not a good idea to use the listing agent as your rep - you need your own.

As a member of the top agent network I see off market stuff in south beach all the time. If you want to talk my contact info is below:

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes
Sally Rosenm…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Many agents in different companies talk to each other about their pocket listings. At Hill & Co we have a in-house list. A pocket listing website was recently set up, but not everyone lists on there. You did not mention which specific buildings you want, so you should just contact different agents and find out what they know. Then you should pick ONE agent to work with and let her/him find out for you and help you with your purchase!

Good luck,
Web Reference:  http://www.sallyrosenman.com
0 votes
Russ Ravary, Agent, Commerce Township, MI
Thu Mar 14, 2013
Usually Craigslist. If you know which agents are doing that call them directly
0 votes
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