A version of this post originally appeared on The Kinney Company blog.
A recent trend I’ve seen in Austin’s robust real estate market is the “pocket” or “whisper” listing. Fashioned as an avenue to market homes outside the Multiple Listing System (MLS), some Austin real estate brokers and their clients are choosing to take this exclusive approach for marketing their upscale properties. (The approach is certainly “exclusive” in the sense that it EXCLUDES people from knowing about the listing.) New websites tailored especially for pocket listings are now online, which is interesting since the objective of a pocket listing is secrecy.
The primary motivation for selling a home this way is the privacy it affords the seller. When the Realtor® keeps the listing in his or her “pocket,” the seller can be spared the intrusion and inconvenience that comes with the traditional way of marketing a house. There’s no sign in the yard, no MLS listing for every agent in the system to view, and certainly no interior photos posted on public websites for all the world to see. Open houses can often be avoided and the number of prospective buyers viewing the property is significantly smaller. In some cases, the seller does not have to spend the time and money that would otherwise be required to prepare the property for showing.
Some suggest a second motivation is to keep the selling price a secret. If the price truly remains a secret, the buyer could benefit financially by keeping the property taxing authorities in the dark about the value. However, unless the buyer pays cash, at least the amount of the mortgage will be available in the public records.
So what’s the downside of pocket listing for a seller in the Austin real estate market? It’s the high likelihood of leaving money on the table. Austin is a seller’s market right now—there are more prospective buyers than there are properties for sale. As a seller, your best assurance for getting full market value for your property is by garnering multiple offers. The more prospective buyers who view your property, the more likely you are to get the highest price.
There are, of course, sellers whose circumstances require discretion, and for them, maintaining privacy is more important than getting top dollar. For this very select group, the pocket listing is a good option. But if getting the best sale price for your property is your goal, put yourself in the hands of an experienced Realtor® who will list your property on MLS and advertise and market it in ways that will reach the largest number of prospective buyers.
~Lazan Pargaman, Realtor®
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