Agents defend pocket listings

The truth is that it’s often the client who wants to keep the listing off of the MLS and away from the prying eyes of thousands of buyers, says Sage Real Estate’s Christina Kroner, also identifying other key reasons for keeping those listings off the MLS.

““It’s your opportunity as a REALTOR® to secure the listing and invest some time and money into the home that will pay off in droves once it sells," she explains.

Ostensibly, given a highly competitive market for real estate professionals, pocket listings allow agents to hold a listing and put in the necessary effort to get the home ready for sale, she tells CREW.

The comments come on the tail end of a spring market that has been slow across much of the country. The use of pocket listings may have contributed to the lower number of listings in Toronto and other urban centres, argue some critics of the practice.

At least one agent specializing in investment properties is cautioning sellers against real estate professionals who seek to use pocket listings for small multifamily properties.

“That size of property definitely should go on the (Multiple Listing Service),” investment specialist and REALTOR® Banny Bar said. “In fact, I would say that buyers for any property with less than 14 or 15 doors are self-directed buyers who are looking for properties on their own and on the MLS system. For those properties pocket listing has the potential to extend the listing time and attract fewer buyers and so lower the price that the seller gets.”

It’s a lesson that an increasing number of investors may be learning for themselves as they cede to REALTOR® requests to keep their properties off the multiple listings service and allow them to troll for buyers through their own contacts and via their own websites.

The incentives for the client often include a discounted commission for the agent, while that real estate professional usually avoids having to split that fee with another REALTOR®.

“Pocket listings can work for the client with a larger property to sell,” said Bar, “if the real estate agent has years of experience and is connected with the buyers. Still, investors have to really know their brokers and how they plan to market the property if they are not putting it on MLS.”

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