GAR Man: I gotta deal for you gonna knock ya socks off
A “pocket listing” is a listing that’s kept off the Multiple Listing Service and sold exclusively to a particular brokerage firm’s customers (or select friends of that firm). Bloomberg News reported on the phenomenon a few days ago because, as the market in some areas recovers and reheats, the natural desire of agents and their brokers to keep a grip on the whole pie is reappearing.
Real estate website Zillow.com recently entered the game in a way that could help buyers see more of what’s out there — assuming the homes would otherwise vanish into a private network. It began allowing agents to post virtual Coming Soon signs on listings. That helps them generate buzz and see if the pricing is right before the listing hits the MLS, Zillow says. Agents must certify that they’re in compliance with the pre-marketing regulations of local and state regulators, the MLS and their brokerage. In some cities, like Seattle, the MLS doesn’t allow pre-marketing, so the feature can’t be used. In others, including Chicago, Zillow says, pre-marketing is common and getting a lot of interest.
Zillow requires agents to list a home on the MLS within 60 days of posting it as Coming Soon. In today’s market, many homes would be snapped up by then.
“You can bet your boots that in this market where a listing is as good as cash, some agents are looking to use that as a way to double their income,” says Murray.
The primary benefit to sellers in this arrangement is that they can avoid the nuisance and loss of privacy that comes with having to open their homes to the great unwashed. And for buyers, an agent who can tip them off to non-public listings means that they won’t have to deal with competitors. But is that a good thing for either?
You, buyer or seller, may trust your agent and the brokerage firm that employs her to be absolutely honest about the value of a property, but the true test of value is what the market says, not what an agent or, God forbid, a blogger thinks it is. No competing buyers leaves both seller and buyer uncertain whether they’re selling/buying over or under market value.
Error is one thing, trust is another. Remember, the very brokerage firms that are pushing this trend in Greenwich are the same firms that control the Greenwich Association of Realtors (control hell, they own it) and are trying their damnedest to keep the public in the dark about properties’ price histories, days on market, and the real “ask-to-sell ratios” (they use the last asking price to compute that ratio but the last asking price is last by definition – the house finally sold, albeit at half the original price). As the large firms swallow the smaller, they’re working on wresting as much market share as they can from their big competitors and to that end, and to keep 100% of the commissions rather than split it with anther firm, they’re touting their size as a way to sell properties in-house, agent-to-agent.
You may think they’re doing this to help you, the consumer. You may also want to buy a bridge from The Greenwich Association of Realtors. I’m sure they can get you a great deal on one.