What Is an Off-MLS Listing? Is It A Good Thing Or a Bad Thing? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Them

An “off-MLS” or pocket listing is a property that is marketed without the benefit of being listed for sale on the MLS. A property that is listed on the MLS has the advantage of being actively marketed to every real estate agent who belongs to that MLS and, through those agents, to their vast network of potential buyers looking to make an offer to purchase the property. Active marketing on the MLS usually includes open houses, broker tours and inclusion of seller’s property in the MLS’s download to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for properties.

On the other hand, as the term implies, an off-MLS listing generally is marketed by a single agent to one or a select few potential buyers. The marketing pool can be so small that in some cases, other agents within the same brokerage or brokerage office may not even be aware that a fellow agent has an off-MLS listing. Here are some answered questions about off-MLS listings. 

Are these listings legal? 

It depends. They are not illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to the home seller and follows rules that are designed to protect consumers. Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of the property owner – particularly if a client does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS. To keep a listing off the MLS, a listing agent who is a participant of an MLS is required, under the rules of most MLSs, to obtain a signed certification from the seller that he or she does not wish to sell the property via the MLS. Read: How MLS Listing by Owner Works – Pros & Cons.  

Why would a home seller agree to such a listing?

Off-MLS listings sometimes are requested by celebrities, judges, prosecutors, or others who wish to maintain their privacy and/or limit viewing of their property to a select individual or individuals with the financial wherewithal to purchase. See: Pros and Cons of Off-MLS Listings – LinkedIn.

Are there reasons a home seller should avoid one?

Yes. Most importantly, an off-MLS listing generally does not get the broad market exposure that a property listed on the MLS gains. That can significantly reduce the number of potential offers to purchase that a property seller may receive, which is an important consideration at a time when multiple offers above the asking price are commonplace in many neighborhoods.

Off-MLS listings also may impact real estate values on a larger scale. Appraisals are very important when it comes to obtaining a mortgage loan, and it may be affected in communities where there are a significant number of homes being offered as off-MLS listings. That’s because not all off-MLS listings are entered into the MLS database once a property is sold. Without this critical information, it is more difficult for real estate agents and their sellers to determine a listing price, for agents and their buyers to decide how much to offer for a property, and for appraisers to determine the current market value of a property. 

What should you do if an agent wants to advertise your home in this manner? 

Ask your agent about the pros and cons of selling your home off-MLS. One advantage is that your listing remains private if you wish to maintain privacy. However, a disadvantage is your home may not be exposed to the full population of available buyers, which means there may be less competition among fewer buyers, resulting in a lower selling price.

If you decide to list your home off-MLS, your agent may ask you to sign a standard seller exclusion form. Be sure you fully understand what you are signing and the adverse consequences outlined in the form of not listing your property on the MLS. And you may want to tell your agent that even if your home is not on the MLS, you want your agent to show and present all offers from both inside and outside his or her network.

Q & A: Everything That You Need to Know As a Buyer Before You Go To Closing

If you’re a seller, you aren’t going want to be stuck in the middle of a real estate transaction without knowing the answers to the following questions. Here are some questions that may affect the purchase of your new home or sale of the old one that you might want to ask your real estate agent or attorney.

How important is it to have a certificate of occupancy?
A CO is a piece of paper that indicates that the city or town has approved any construction on the property. It tells the buyer that it has been properly completed according to the building code and is safe and habitable. It has become an especially important issue for mortgage lenders who may turn down the loan if there is any construction on the property that doesn’t have proof of this certificate. 

If I change my mind and don’t want to sell the house, do I still my agent commission?
In general, if your agent brings to you a buyer that is prepared to make a full-price offer, the real estate agent is entitled to a commission even if you change your mind and decide not to sell your house. After you’ve signed the sales contract, you may even owe the buyer something if you back out. For example, the buyer may have sold his house and put his furniture in storage in anticipation of moving.

Do I get an inspection done before or after signing the contract? Does it matter
If you get the inspection done before signing the contract you can easily walk away from the deal if the inspector finds any problems with the property, but you run the risk of losing the house to another buyer while the inspection is being done. Read: Questions to Ask Before Making an Offer on a Home – FOX Business. If you have an inspection contingency placed in the contract whether or not you can get out of it depends on the specific wording of the contract.

If I’ve made an offer and the seller already accepted it, can they turn around and accept an offer higher than mine if they receive one?
An offer and acceptance is really not binding until a written contract is signed by both the buyer and the seller. Although negotiations are often conducted verbally or by e-mail, real estate agents want to get the contract signed as soon as possible to lock the deal in place when negotiations are complete. See: 7 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home – Bankrate.com.

If I’m a seller, do I have to let the buyers move in before closing?
Many things can happen even up to a few hours before closing that can wreck a deal. After they move in, they have protected rights. If the sale falls through, you would now be faced with an eviction proceeding that can be complicated, long, and expensive, depending on where you live.

Are there any deed restrictions on the property?
Deed restrictions are placed in the deed and can restrict how you use or what you do on your property. These restrictions often go beyond the local zoning laws in controlling the use of your property. For example, you might not be able to put vinyl siding on your home or use the property for a home business even though the local government laws might allow you to do those things. It’s important to know about deed restrictions early because they may affect your decision to buy the property.

If something goes wrong, will I get back my deposit?
The deposit will most likely be held by the attorney or real estate broker representing the seller. They are under obligation to get the seller’s permission to release the funds. Be prepared for a major fight if you don’t meet the exact wording of the contract in claiming your deposit. Make sure you pay careful attention to the wording in the contract, follow all the dates, and have everything in writing. Read on to find out how What to Do Before Making an Offer – Trulia

Can A Buyer Back Out of A Contract? Well, Yes and No. Read On to Find Out The General Stipulations

Real estate contracts are legal documents that bind all parties to the conditions in the real estate documents. There are contingencies in nearly all contracts that allow the parties to get out before the sale closes if certain conditions are met.

In order to be enforceable, a real estate contract must be in writing. It must identify the buyer and the seller, and it must include a description of the property. The contract must also identify the agreed-upon sales price, and it must be signed by all parties to the sale. If any signatures are missing, you can get out of the contract.

Earnest money is the amount paid by the buyer during the initial offer to purchase the property. The money goes into a trust account and is applied to the purchase price at the closing. If the contract fails, the trust account administrator disburses the earnest money according to the specifications in the contract. Earnest money is an indicator of the buyer’s intent to go through with the purchase. Further reading: Can You Get Out of a Home Purchase Contract? – Fox Business. If you’re a buyer and you pull out of a contract without a good reason, you could lose your earnest money. 

Safeguards that protect the parties are built into the contract. These generally include, but are not limited to, the buyer being unable to secure a loan, the seller not providing a clear title or the property’s appraised value falling short of the purchase price.

Additional contract breakers include an inspection turning up termite infestation or mold, although some contracts address these issues and their remedies in the original document. You may get out of the contract if the seller fails to disclose a property or title defect or if the seller or an agent misrepresents the property. Contact an attorney if you feel that the seller is fraudulently representing the property. 

In general, the best course of action is to communicate and come to a mutual agreement to cancel the contract. If the buyer wants out, the seller can agree to cancel and return or split the earnest money. Often, the seller sees the futility of trying to force the buyer to purchase the property, because the buyer is likely to walk anyway, especially if the earnest money is a small amount. See: Can You Cancel a Real Estate Contract? – Realtor.com.

In addition, most sellers don’t want hard feelings, and they would rather get their property back on the market as soon as possible. The exception is when the property is part of a commercial acquisition and the seller is reluctant to let the buyer out, especially if a large amount of earnest money is on the line. 

If the buyer walks for a reason not covered in the contract, the seller is legally allowed to keep the earnest money. If the seller tries to get out of the contract, however, the buyer can file a lawsuit for specific performance, forcing the seller to go ahead with the sale. Buyers have three days after the closing to change their minds if the property is a residence. For more information: How Can a Seller Get Out of a Real Estate Contract?