WHAT IS A POCKET LISTING?

So many people can not find the right house and think they have searched every house on the market - not so.

Often brokers have what is called a POCKET LISTING. This is a listing they is on the website - under William Pitt Sothebys for me and under the agent are LISTINGS. Within the listing is several sometimes POCKET LISTINGS.

What does this mean you ask? It maybe a person who just does not want to be bothered by the public MASS. They want to privately sell their homes and not have a bombardment of advertising. They may have pulled it off for personal reasons. They may not want to publicly list it for 6 months. So next time you shop - ask for the POCKET LISTINGS in the office!!
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July 13 2010 - Westport
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Answers (12)

What is the real point of not allowing the public to know the house is for sale? It eliminates the best chance to create a sale.
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I would agree that many in house or pocket listings are at the sellers request.  It's kind of a way for sellers to test the market without really commiting to the process or to try and sell without all the advertising and traffic.  Most times a pocket listing weeds out looky loos and brings in serious buyers. 

Also, some sellers want to keep it private for whatever reason and this is a way to get buyers without making it public knowledge. 

Alot of times it depends on current market conditions.  A few years ago sellers did it this way and the house sold quickly for a fair price and the sellers were out and gone before anyone knew.  All depends on the sellers reason and wants for selling.
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July 24 2010
I help clients buy and sell unique architectural properties in Florida. I enjoy marketing these homes, and need all the help selling them I can get.

However, I usually have one to three "pocket listings" which are really nice architectural gems I want to share with the world, but their owners insist on complete privacy. They do not want a sign in their yard, do not want anyone looking at photos of the inside of their house, and do not want anyone to know their house is for sale, period. They feel the buyer for their house is probably sitting in my car, looking at houses with me.

This is very flattering, but not the best way to sell a house. I hope to convert these pocket listings and share them with the world, but until I can do this, I will respect my clients' wishes, and only mention my pocket listings to buyers I personally qualify as having the means, and desire to purchase one of these architectural gems.

Thanks for this great question!
All my best,

Martie Lieberman, Realtor, GRI,
SaraBay Real Estate
[contact info removed by moderator]
7333 N Tamiami Tr, Sarasota FL 34243
[link removed by moderator]
 
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July 24 2010
Profile picture for the_country_hick
All of this time I thought a pocket listing was one you put in your pocket to show a realtor when you got to their office.

What is the real point of not allowing the public to know the house is for sale? It eliminates the best chance to create a sale.
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July 23 2010
Great answer frisky1!
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July 23 2010
Profile picture for frisky1

is there confusion about the definition of a pocket listing?

I would define it as an exclusive listing where all the paperwork except the MLS listing is signed. Then its sold either through word of mouth, the website of that agency, a sign in front (which would be unusual but legal), the agents website, or whatever. Don't know about all states but it is perfectly legal to market a home that is exclusively listed and not in the MLS here in NJ and PA. and if the OP's firm is doing  it, it must be perfectly legal in CT--thats a very reputable company (as far as RE agencies go that is).

The slightly unethical definition of pocket listing, I believe, is a listing that is signed and will go in the mls but is held off for a few days so that perhaps the agent themselves, or their office, or whatever, has first crack at it. That would be a violation of most mls and realtors rules as technically you have to give every agency fair shake at a listing that is offered cooperatively.  there's usually a 48 hour window in which you can upload the info but you're really not supposed to be showing it until it hits the mls. sometimes the listing agent or their close colleague has a buyer already so it can be almost unavoidable.

A third pocket listing could be  a fsbo or other interested but undeclared seller that the agent is in contact with who might sell but no formal paperwork has been filled out. that agent might infer to other agents or their clients about the house and then maybe do a one time showing agreement prior to disclosing which house it is.

As for violations, MLS  is the one place where agents do get in trouble if they make mistakes. The MLS is usually separate from the board of realtors (around here they are anyway) and they do a lot of checking to make sure rules are followed--its easy when everything is in database form. Much more diligent or annoying than NAR--depending on your take. not really ethics violations tho.

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July 23 2010
I agree with Pasadenean that it is not a disservice.  I think the discussion of pocket listings as unethical or illegal is ludicrous - we work for our clients not the other way around.  If they make the request, our job is to ADVISE them as to the pros and cons of doing so. If they still feel they want to be a "pocket listing" then you should do your job and work hard to get it sold - or just walk away from your client and give the business to someone else.

There is nothing illegal about withholding a listing from the MLS at the client's request.  Sometimes the owners don't want to deal with the very public aspects of being on the market with a sign out in front - questions from neighbors, social contacts, etc.

Let's not forget that it is never a requirement to be either a Realtor and follow the Realtor Code of Ethics or be a member of the the local MLS to represent buyers and sellers.  

In case the public is confused by that, to be a Realtor you must be a member of the Realtor Union - the National Association of Realtors (one of the largest and most active in the country) and pay yearly dues. This allows a licensed salesperson to call themselves a Realtor and members are meant to abide by a code of ethics.

Violating the ethics can be cause to lose membership in the union, but the ethics are by no means the law.
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July 23 2010
I once asked my listing agent if I could be a pocket listing.  I signed an exclusive with him, and he didn't sell it within the contracted period (it is in FL).  I liked my Realtor and didn't want to hire another one.  Rather than extend the contact and make it look like the home was on the market for that long period of time, by renewing again, I instead started looking for a renter by asked my agent to keep it as a pocket listing.  He took it off the MLS (no longer had a contact).  He kept his sign in the yard until we did indeed get a renter, which I was fine with. We ended up renting it, but I would certainly hire the same agent once the lease is up, and just renew everything we orginally had in place with him.
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July 23 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"...and are a disservice to both Sellers and Buyers." -

If the seller requests a pocket listing, it is not a disservice.  Nor is it in violation of the rules if the owner stated to not advertise it and put that in writing.

And the link provided to a discussion on the issue indicates at least one neighborhood in Northern California where over 1/2 the houses on the market are pocket listings.

The only people it is doing a disservice to are the agents that are not made aware of the availability of a property.

Perhaps a way to circumvent anti-discrimination laws?  You would have to prove it, and prosecute, and that is very difficult to do and isn't happening.

Even when hundreds of thousands of complaints are filed against NAR or one of their members, there is rarely any disciplinary action taken since it is reviewed by a board of their peers.

As for the NAR ethics statement, you can't even get many of the NAR members to comply with copyright law (and at least quote their sources), or even comply with their local association rules (such as referencing the source for material taken from the associations' website), or even get them to follow rules of websites like Zillow (such as not posting their contact info in a discussion post)..., instead the ethics statement is used as an excuse to spread false propaganda, such as "buy now or be priced out forever"!

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July 23 2010

Thanks, Margaret.  Janet, there is a big difference between a pocket listing and an owner who does not want to be bothered by the public mass and practicing and/or advocating this policy is potentially in violation of the NAR Code Of Ethics Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 12 and is also a violation of Article 4 of the statewide mulitple listing service subscriber agreement.   

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July 23 2010
Great answer, John! "Pocket listings" violate the rules and are a disservice to both Sellers and Buyers.
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July 22 2010
Pocket listings for home sales violate MLS rules for all 3 multiple listing services in CT.  Unless the Seller specifically states that they do not want their listing on the MLS and it is only to be kept in-house, listings MUST be on the MLS within 48 hours.   A copy of the listing contract needs to be kept at the local board in the event a question arises.

No MLS also means no yard sign and no advertising.  If I ever had to ask an agent or broker for a "Pocket List" I doubt the broker would give it to me because the next phone call would be to the MLS. 

Without exception if it's on their website then it has to be on the MLS.
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July 14 2010
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A good discussion about pocket listing from 2007:
Need Advice
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July 13 2010
 
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