What on earth is a “Pocket Listing?”

topsecret-smallThese days in the South Bay, you may be hearing about “pocket listings.”  What on earth is this? you may ask yourself.  I thought I’d clear that up for you! Traditionally, a pocket listing is one that the agent does not have a signed listing agreement for, but has some knowledge that a seller is thinking of selling.  This lack of actually having the listing signed may be for seller’s reasons (they are clearing up some estate or title matters, or they are still deciding what to price it at) or it may be because they haven’t chosen their agent yet or even decided whether they really want to sell.  These days, it is also sometimes because they don’t want to sell until they can find a place to move to, since our low inventory situation makes them fear being homeless.  Once in a while, the agent may think the listing is “in their pocket”, but it is actually going to go to another agent.

Another type of listing that is often called a “pocket” listing but really is technically a “listing on waivers” is that there is a signed listing agreement but for some reason the seller doesn’t want it on the MLS.  This can be because they are sprucing the place up to get ready for showings, because the seller is going out of town,  because they think there is a more strategic time to place the property on the MLS, or because, in many cases, they are “testing” the price to see what the reaction is from those agents that they have let in on the secret.  That way, the property doesn’t linger on the actual MLS and get “stale” and “aged” because it was originally priced too high.  By floating the trial balloon of a listing on waiver, they can adjust their pricing strategy.

The reason this matters to the ordinary person is that in our South Bay market, about 10 to 15 percent of all listings in 2012 were sold before they hit the MLS.  In Manhattan Beach, there are so few homes for sale in large part because there are many that are actually pocket listings and therefore not generally known to the average person perusing Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or Realtor.com.  Some agents think that over a third of Manhattan Beach homes for sale will end up being sold “off market”.  This means that in order to buy Manhattan Beach real estate, you need to work with an agent like me that is connected to the other top local agents and knows about this shadow inventory. In order to stay connected and knowledgeable about the market, I attend at least three meetings every week, am part of some secret Facebook groups and email sharing groups, and am sure to attend the Brokers Open caravans each week.  This is how I stay on top of the real estate market in Manhattan Beach so that I can help my clients find the hidden listings in the area.

About Lauren Perreault