There seems to be an increasing trend both locally and across the country of attempting to sell residential properties quietly and without any advertising, media exposure or MLS/listings feed. These non-traditional off-market properties are frequently a topic of debate amongst real estate agents and their customers. In the commercial real estate world, the off-market property transaction grants privacy to the seller, allows her/him to avoid the nuisance of hundreds of calls and inquiries from real estate agents and others trying to solicit business, and frequently results in an efficient sale. For the buyer of a commercial building it often provides access to a trophy property that would not be listed anywhere and little to no competition or bidding wars. In some cases, the agent who sells the off-market property may be the benefactor of a larger commission if they represent both the buyer and the seller. Often times, there are agents representing both sides of the transaction and the listing agent sees no economic windfall.
The residential off-market sale is even more opaque. Although also beneficial to the uber-private seller as well as the buyer who wishes to avoid competitive bidding, selling a residential property without marketing, PR, advertising and overall broad exposure to the potential buying community creates the very real possibility that the property sells for below market value. I’m a believer that casting the widest net is the best way to guarantee the highest price in any market. That said, some sellers prefer the discretionary nature of the off-market sale and are willing to leave some money of the table in exchange for their privacy. Like the commercial transaction, the agent selling the residential off-market property could also earn a greater commission if they are the only agent involved in the transaction but most off-market sales of which I’m aware involve both a buyer’s and a seller’s agent.
If you are a seller seeking a quick, quiet and efficient transaction and you are willing to possibly leave some money of the table as a trade for this high level of discretion, then an off-market deal may suit you. If you want to achieve maximum value for your home and you are amenable to all of the press, advertising, marketing and publicity that comes with publicly listing your home, then steer clear of attempting to sell off-market and let your agent and the market dictate your home’s value.