The Inside Scoop
Off-Market Listings: Why they happen and where to find them
People always ask us: What’s up with “off-market” listings? Why would a homeowner sell without listing their property on the MLS first?
A myriad of reasons, but here are the most typical.
#1 – They don’t want to (or can’t) move out for the sale.
Selling your house while living in it is no picnic. Particularly if you have kids, it’s close to impossible to create the kind of aspirational “lifestyle” look of a staged home. Let’s face it – staging looks NOTHING like most real-life households! In real life there are mis-matched dishes, overflowing closets, and Legos on the floor, and none of that looks cute in online marketing. So if sellers aren’t able to move out for the sale, the convenience of an off-market offer can be appealing.
#2 – They’re getting a premium and they value certainty.
In this market, buyers are often willing to pay for the opportunity to lock down a home without competing against other bidders. If the sellers receive an offer in excess of what they were expecting to fetch, they might take a bird-in-the-hand scenario. A premium price plus the peace of mind of a “done” deal can sometimes be appealing enough to a seller so that they’ll forgo exposing the property to the market.
#3 – They’d like to skip prepping and staging, if possible.
It’s not atypical these days for sellers to spend $30k, $40k, even upwards of $80k or more getting a house ready for sale. That takes time, can be a hassle (unless you have our team managing the job, of course!) and can require up-front cash. So we often see properties offered for sale off-market for a brief time in its “before” condition before the seller and agent begin the work of prepping and staging. The seller will usually take less than the house would fetch in its “after” state. But they save themselves some time, headache, and uncertainty.
On the other hand, many sellers prefer to go on the MLS instead of taking the first offer that comes their way. This depends a lot on the type of property and how bullish or nervous a seller feels about the market.
YTD there have been 46 off-market single family home sales and 47 off-market condo sales in San Francisco. That’s about 9% of total sales.
So how do you find these under-the-radar places?
Your agent, of course!
Places your agent should be searching for off-market properties for you:
– Top Agent Network (requires membership and only available to top 10% of agents)
– Aalto (requires membership, which your agent should have)
– “Coming Soon” section of the MLS – only agent-facing and won’t show up in your regular listing alerts.
– Intra-firm networking – As members of the Side brokerage we get inside scoop on listings from our colleagues from all 20+ Side companies here in SF.
Finding under-the-radar properties requires proactivity on your agent’s part. It’s more like a truffle hunting expedition – we have to really get out there and sniff around to find the good stuff!