What Is Happening With ‘Pocket’ Listings?

By SARAH KNAUER | Special to the Palisadian-Post

Last year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) passed a law that reads:

“Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.”

The law is effective as of January 1 and must be implemented by May 1. I am going to answer the following questions: First, why did NAR implement this policy? And second, what implications will it have if you are purchasing or selling a home?

Reasoning Behind the Policy

One of the reasons NAR passed this policy is to deter against discrimination that some buyers faced when shopping for homes. Agents were using private listing channels to expose only certain agents and buyers to their listings.

In addition, NAR felt that it was against agents’ fiduciary duty not to list homes in the MLS, as that would be eliminating the largest marketing channel there is for homes and risk losing the buyer that will offer the best price and terms.

Implications for Buyers

If you are looking for a home to purchase, this could really be a positive change. There will be less “off-market” inventory, meaning you as a buyer will have access to all the available listings. You don’t need to worry that you are missing out on homes that are not on the MLS, as all listings must be advertised publicly.

Implications for Sellers

For sellers who wish to “pre-market” their homes, this can still be done with the MLS’ new “coming soon” feature in which your agent can submit your property to the MLS and have it advertised there for 30 days. The advantage to starting a “coming soon” rather than active is that the initial days on market will not show on the final listing.

For sellers who wish to keep their listing off the public channels for privacy reasons, your agent will only be allowed to share the listing details on any off-market channels such as e-blasts to other top agents in the area, the Top Agent Network (a site for top agents where off-market listings are shared) or even on their own website, as that is public facing.

What Is the Takeaway From This? 

If you are a buyer who can’t find a home that works for you, find the agent in your area that represents the most sellers and they should be able to provide you, as an exclusive client, with information on homes that they have privately available for sale.

Make sure your agent is actively reaching directly to homeowners with properties that may work for you, as the shared network between agents of off-market properties will be eliminated. The same concept works if you want to sell your home and for privacy reasons cannot openly come on the MLS.

Find the agent in your area who represents the most buyers as they will have the highest chance of bringing you a bona fide offer without coming on the market.

Sarah Knauer is a member of The Marguleas Team of Amalfi Estates. Sarah truly believes in giving back to her community and gives back 10% of her commission from each sale among five charities, Make-a-Wish, SPCA-LA, American Cancer Society, PATH, which helps homelessness, and Homeboy Industries. The team has been fortunate to have donated $1 million since 2014. Knauer can be reached on her cell at 310-663-4606 or sarah@amalfiestates.com.