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What Is A Pocket Listing & How To Find One

Written by Than Merrill

When it comes to real estate, the term “pocket listing” might sound intriguing, but what exactly does it mean? This article delves into the world of pocket listings, shedding light on their nature, benefits, and how you can find them. Pocket listings offer a unique opportunity in the real estate market, and understanding them can be a significant advantage, whether you are a buyer or a seller.

What Is A Pocket Listing?

Pocket Listing Meaning

A pocket listing, also known as an off-market listing, is a property for sale that is not publicly advertised on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Real estate agents keep these listings “in their pocket,” hence the name. Unlike traditional listings, which are widely marketed and accessible to the general public, pocket listings are more exclusive and typically shared within private networks or among select clients.

How Do Pocket Listings Work?

In a pocket listing, the seller and the real estate agent agree to market the property discreetly. The agent relies on their personal network, reaching out to potential buyers they believe would be interested in the property. This approach allows for a more controlled and private sale process, catering to sellers who prefer to keep their transactions away from the public eye.

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what is a pocket listing

Why Pocket Listings Exist

Why Sellers Use Pocket Listings

So, why would a seller make a pocket listing, rather than list their property on the MLS? There are a number of possible reasons, including:

  • You’re selling to a friend or family member

  • You don’t want to deal with bidding wars

  • You’re just testing the waters, and aren’t actually ready to sell

  • You’re a public figure, and don’t want people to know where you live

  • You are a victim of domestic abuse, and want your location to stay private

  • You want to market the home to a more exclusive audience

  • You don’t want to list price reductions on the MLS

  • You want to negotiate a reduced commission with your real estate agent, since they won’t have to spend as much effort selling the property

Except for some edge cases, this really comes down to two things: you either want to market your home to a limited audience, or you don’t want information about the sale to become public knowledge.

Why Buyers Use Pocket Listings

As a buyer, a pocket listing presents a unique opportunity. You’re able to get a jump on the market, and make an offer before anyone else even knows the property is available. In theory, this can help you get a better price than you would on the open market, especially if the seller is in a hurry to sell.

Then again, keep in mind that you’re working with the seller’s agent, not your own. Because you don’t have your own agent, you’re negotiating directly with that agent, and their job is to get the highest possible price from potential buyers.

In other words, you’re not likely to get a better price than you would on the open market. However, you can buy a new home faster. You don’t have to deal with multiple showings or get caught in a bidding war. If you’re trying to buy an exclusive property in a hurry, buying a pocket listing is a great option.

The Pros and Cons of Pocket Listings


These are some reasons why sellers might want to use pocket listings:

  • Privacy: Sellers maintain a high level of discretion throughout the sale.

  • Control: Sellers and agents can carefully select potential buyers.

  • Market Testing: Allows for gauging interest and price without public listing.

  • Exclusivity: Appeals to buyers seeking unique or luxury properties.


On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to consider:

  • Limited Exposure: Fewer potential buyers may see the property.

  • Potential for Lower Offers: With less competition, offers may be lower.

  • Lack of Transparency: Buyers may have less information about the property.

How To Find Pocket Listings

So, how do you find pocket listings as you’re a buyer? Here are a few simple steps:

Building Relationships with Real Estate Agents

To find pocket listings, establishing strong relationships with real estate agents is crucial. Agents with extensive networks often have access to multiple pocket listings. Express your interest and be specific about what you are looking for. Trust and communication are key; let them know you are a serious buyer and ready to move quickly if the right opportunity arises.

Utilizing Online Resources

While the nature of pocket listings means they are not widely advertised, some online platforms and forums may offer leads. Be vigilant and conduct due diligence to ensure the listings are legitimate. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Networking and Word-of-Mouth

Leveraging your personal network can also lead to pocket listing opportunities. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues who are connected to the real estate industry. Attending local real estate events and gatherings can also help you meet industry professionals who might have access to off-market listings.

Navigating the Pocket Listing Process

Assessing and Making an Offer

When you find a pocket listing that interests you, assess it carefully. Consider the property’s condition, location, and potential for appreciation. If it meets your criteria, be prepared to act swiftly. Making a compelling offer promptly is crucial in the competitive world of pocket listings.

Negotiating and Closing the Deal

Negotiating a pocket listing can be nuanced, given its private nature. Work closely with your agent to devise a negotiation strategy. Once you reach an agreement, the closing process is similar to that of a traditional listing, involving inspections, appraisals, and the finalization of financial transactions.


Pocket listings have their own advantages and disadvantages. For sellers, they present a discreet way to sell your home. For buyers, they’re a way to close a deal quickly, without the hassle of dealing with a bidding war. By networking, shopping around, and working with the right agent, you can complete your pocket listing transaction quickly and painlessly.

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