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Should You List Your Home Off-Market? A FAQ

A primer on private real estate listings.

This four-bedroom home in Pacific Heights recently sold off the market for $9.6 million.


Editor’s note: This is part of a story about the private real estate market and how it works. Read it here.  

Should I sell my home without listing it?

Probably not. Real estate agents tend to agree that the best way to sell most homes is to list them on the public market, or Multiple Listing Service, which maximizes the number of eyeballs and potential buyers. That said, if your home is unique or difficult to price—for instance, it’s the biggest house on the block, or it’s an architectural marvel—listing it off-market for a little while might help you arrive at a realistic price.

What if I’m sorta famous?
If you’re a well-known executive or celebrity and you hate the idea of the public getting word of your listing, a private sale might be preferable. Realtors say that you’ll likely leave money on the table—luckily, as a superstar, you’ve got plenty of it! Think of this as the premium you’ll pay for flying under the radar.

Any tips for listing my home off-market?
As we mentioned, shopping a home privately can be beneficial even if you aren’t a local celeb. In a hot market, it may even drum up some good offers. But if privacy isn’t your main concern, it’s wise to stick to a predetermined timeline. Your best bet is to list privately for two or three weeks, and then, if it hasn’t sold, list publicly.

I’m in the market to buy a house. How do I find out about off-market home listings?
A well-connected agent can help. Go for a neighborhood expert wherever you’re buying—they’ll be plugged into what’s being shopped around off-market. There are also a growing number of websites that can give you a preview of what’s to come, like Pacific Union International’s new Private View site.

I don’t want the sale or purchase price of my home to be publicly known, ever. Is that possible?
Nope. Home sale prices are public record in California. Once you sell, you can’t hide the trail.


Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco 

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