What are “Pocket Listings”?  Why it’s bad for Boston condo buyers and sellers

Boston Real Estate 


What are “Pocket Listings”?  Why it’s bad for Boston condo buyers and sellers

Unlocking the Mystery of Boston Condo Pocket Listings. With Boston’s real estate market hotter than ever, navigating the world of condo shopping can be a daunting endeavor. But there’s an insider secret that smart homebuyers are utilizing – pocket listings. As elusive as they are exclusive, these off-market properties might just hold the key to securing your dream condo in Beantown. Ready to turn real estate odds in your favor? Read on as we delve into the legwork and know-how needed to unlock the mystery of Boston condo pocket listings. Buckle up for a thrilling ride behind this hidden curtain of property power deals!

Boston condo pocket listings refer to exclusive signed listing agreements between sellers and brokers that are never advertised or listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This non-public approach is often used by sellers who value privacy or want to test the market without committing to a full listing. Buyers interested in these properties may need to work directly with the listing broker, but it is important to have a Boston real estate agent on their side for guidance and advocacy.

Unveiling Boston Condo Pocket Listings

Boston’s real estate market is known for its competitiveness and high demand. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the game and explore all available options. One intriguing aspect of the market that often remains unseen is the world of Boston condo pocket listings. These exclusive listings are tucked away from public view, providing a sense of exclusivity to those in the know.

By definition, pocket listings are properties that are not officially listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or any other public platform. They remain accessible only to a select few individuals, often industry professionals and well-connected agents. This hidden nature creates a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding these off-market opportunities.

Imagine you’re searching for your dream Downtown Boston condo, but you find the options limited on the public market. Suddenly, you come across whispers of exclusive pocket listings available in desirable locations like Beacon Hill or Boston Midtown. These hidden gems may not be visible to the general public, but by unlocking this secret realm, you gain access to properties that might have otherwise slipped through your fingers.

Now let’s delve deeper into the hidden nature of pocket listings and understand why they exist in the first place.

The Hidden Nature of Pocket Listings

Pocket listings thrive on discretion and privacy. Some homeowners prefer to keep their property offerings under wraps due to various reasons. For example, high-profile individuals such as celebrities or public figures often value their privacy and prefer to keep their home sale confidential until a suitable buyer is found. By opting for a pocket listing, they can avoid the attention and influx of potential buyers associated with traditional marketing strategies.

Imagine a successful actor who wants to sell their elegant penthouse in Back Bay discreetly without attracting too much public attention. They consult with a trusted real estate agent who specializes in pocket listings. Together, they agree to keep the property off the MLS and utilize their network connections to find a buyer who appreciates both the property’s value and its exclusivity.

From a seller’s perspective, pocket listings not only offer privacy but also foster a sense of control. By narrowing down potential buyers and working with agents who have access to a curated pool of clients, sellers can select individuals who align with their specific requirements and preferences.

However, the hidden nature of pocket listings does come with some drawbacks and concerns that both buyers and sellers should be mindful of when considering this avenue.

How to Spot Pocket Listings

Pocket listings, by their very nature, are properties that are not listed on the public MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and kept in-house within real estate networks. So how can you spot these elusive listings? While they may not be openly advertised, there are still a few ways to uncover them.

One method is to establish a strong network of connections within the real estate industry. Building relationships with local real estate agents and brokers can provide valuable insight into upcoming pocket listings. Agents often share information between each other about off-market properties that might be available for sale. By actively engaging with professionals in the field, you increase your chances of being aware of pocket listings before they hit the public market.

Another way to identify pocket listings is through word-of-mouth referrals. Keep your ears open and let people know you’re in the market for a property. It’s amazing how much information can circulate within communities when someone is looking to buy or sell. Friends, family, colleagues, and even neighbors could come across someone who has an upcoming sale but wants to keep it off the public market.

Additionally, some real estate websites may have features specifically dedicated to “coming soon” listings or pre-market properties. For example, popular platforms like Zillow offer a “coming-soon” feature that showcases properties 30 days before they are officially listed on the MLS. Keeping an eye on these websites and utilizing their search filters for pre-market or off-market properties can help you spot potential pocket listings.

Remember, finding pocket listings requires proactive effort and staying informed within your local real estate community. It’s important to establish connections, network with agents, and seek referrals from trusted sources to increase your chances of discovering hidden opportunities.

Now that we’ve explored how to spot pocket listings, let’s take a closer look at their advantages and disadvantages.

  • According to a report by the National Association of Realtors in 2020, about 10% of the real estate transactions in US major cities involve pocket listings.
  • The same report indicates that in hot markets like Boston, this number can be as high as 20%, demonstrating the popularity of this practice in competitive areas.
  • A 2022 Zillow study shows that “coming-soon” features—often associated with pocket listings—increase a property’s visibility by up to 30% compared to other properties on the site.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pocket Listings

Pocket listings, although not as widely known or accessible as properties listed on the public market, offer certain advantages and disadvantages for both buyers and sellers.

One advantage of pocket listings is exclusivity. As a buyer, you may have the opportunity to view and make an offer on a property before it becomes available to the general public. This exclusivity can give you a competitive edge in a tight housing market by allowing you to potentially secure a desirable property without facing intense competition from other buyers.

Sellers also benefit from pocket listings as they can maintain privacy and control over their listing. Some homeowners, especially those in the public eye or who value their privacy, may prefer to keep their property off the public MLS. Pocket listings allow them to discreetly test the market without exposing their home to a large number of potential buyers.

However, there are also disadvantages to pocket listings that should be considered. One major drawback is the limited exposure of the property. By keeping it off the public market, sellers may miss out on reaching a broader audience of potential buyers. This limited exposure could potentially result in a longer selling process or less favorable offers.

Another concern with pocket listings is the potential for conflicts of interest. When a listing broker controls both sides of the transaction (representing both the buyer and seller), there may be questions regarding fairness and transparency in price negotiation. Buyers might worry if they are truly getting the best deal possible or if there is bias favoring the listing broker’s interests.

Ultimately, whether pocket listings are advantageous or disadvantageous depends on individual circumstances and preferences. It’s important for both buyers and sellers to carefully weigh the pros and cons and consider other options before deciding whether to pursue or participate in pocket listings.

  • Pocket listings have both advantages and disadvantages for buyers and sellers. Buyers can benefit from exclusivity and the potential to secure a desirable property without competition, while sellers can maintain privacy and control over their listing. However, pocket listings also have limited exposure, potentially resulting in a longer selling process or less favorable offers. Additionally, conflicts of interest can arise when the listing broker represents both the buyer and seller. Ultimately, it is important for both buyers and sellers to carefully consider the pros and cons before deciding whether to participate in pocket listings.

Potential Risks of Pocket Listings

Pocket listings, although enticing for some sellers and buyers, also come with potential risks that should be carefully considered. One of the primary concerns is the limited exposure that pocket listings have compared to properties listed on the public market. Since pocket listings are not advertised on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they remain hidden from the wider pool of potential buyers. This restricted visibility can result in a smaller pool of interested parties, potentially leading to slower sales or lower offers.

Another risk associated with pocket listings is the potential for conflicts of interest. In these situations, the listing broker may act as both the buyer’s and seller’s agent, receiving commissions from both sides. This scenario raises questions about whether the listing broker’s loyalty lies with the seller or if they prioritize their own financial gain. It’s crucial for both buyers and sellers to consider this possible conflict when engaging in pocket listings.

Furthermore, without being listed on the public market, sellers might not receive the best price possible for their property. With fewer competing offers, the negotiation power shifts more towards potential buyers, who may leverage this advantage to negotiate a lower purchase price. Thus, it becomes imperative for sellers to carefully weigh their options and assess whether the benefits of privacy outweigh potential financial losses.

Another concern regarding pocket listings is fairness and accessibility. When properties are withheld from the MLS, it limits equal opportunity and transparency in real estate transactions. Publicly listed properties allow any interested buyer or their agent to access information about available homes and make informed decisions based on fair competition. By limiting access to information, pocket listings run the risk of disadvantaging certain buyers who may not have insider connections or knowledge about these exclusive opportunities.

Buying a home is already a complex process filled with uncertainties. Engaging in pocket listings adds an extra layer of complexity as buyers may need to work directly with the listing broker instead of having their own agent represent their interests. This arrangement can leave buyers feeling hesitant, doubting whether they are receiving unbiased advice and support throughout the transaction.

Navigating the Purchase of a Pocket Listing

Buying a property through a pocket listing requires careful navigation to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. One crucial consideration is finding a reputable real estate agent who is well-connected within the local market and has access to these exclusive listings. Working with an experienced agent who specializes in pocket listings can provide access to desirable properties before they hit the public market. Their industry knowledge and relationships could be invaluable when it comes to identifying suitable options and negotiating favorable terms.

Let’s say you are in search of your dream home in Boston’s competitive real estate market, but you’ve heard rumors about attractive properties being available exclusively through pocket listings. You decide to enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent who has a track record of success in connecting buyers with these hidden gems.

When approaching a pocket listing, it’s crucial to conduct thorough due diligence. Since pocket listings are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as publicly listed properties, it becomes even more important for buyers to perform comprehensive property inspections, review legal documents, and assess market value independently. Engaging professionals such as home inspectors or real estate lawyers can provide added assurance throughout this process.

Furthermore, buyers should maintain clear communication with their agent and express their specific preferences and requirements for a property. By providing detailed information about desired amenities, location, and budget, buyers can increase the chances of finding the perfect pocket listing that aligns with their needs.

For instance, if you have always dreamed of owning a historic brownstone in Beacon Hill, clearly communicating that preference to your agent will enable them to prioritize pocket listings within that area during their search.

Lastly, it’s essential to stay patient and persistent. Pocket listings often require more time and effort to secure since they are not as readily available as properties listed on the MLS. Buyers may need to wait for the right opportunity and be prepared to act quickly when an attractive pocket listing becomes available.

Some might argue that the extra effort involved in securing a pocket listing is well worth it due to the potential for finding unique or exclusive properties at potentially better prices. However, others may contend that the limited exposure of pocket listings imposes more risks and uncertainties onto the buyer.

By considering these strategies and being well-informed about the process of purchasing a pocket listing, buyers can navigate this avenue with confidence.

Considerations for Buyers and Sellers

When it comes to Boston condo pocket listings, both buyers and sellers need to carefully consider several factors before making any decisions. Let’s take a closer look at the considerations that each party should keep in mind.

For buyers, the allure of exclusivity and possible off-market deals can be enticing. However, it’s important to remember that pocket listings are not widely advertised, which means there may be limited inventory to choose from. This scarcity could make it more challenging to find the perfect condo that meets all your needs and preferences. Additionally, since pocket listings are not listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they might not receive as much exposure, potentially leading to missed opportunities.

On the other hand, sellers who opt for pocket listings prioritize privacy over widespread marketing. This may be advantageous for high-profile individuals or those who prefer a more discreet selling process. By keeping the property off the MLS, sellers have more control over who gets access to information about their condo. However, one must bear in mind that limited exposure also means fewer potential buyers and potentially less competition, which could affect the final sale price.

It’s also essential for both buyers and sellers to understand that by choosing a pocket listing approach, they limit their pool of prospective counterparts. Buyers might miss out on finding their dream condo if it’s not part of the exclusive network where pocket listings circulate. Similarly, sellers could miss out on competitive offers that might have come from a wider audience.

When considering a Boston condo pocket listing, it is crucial for both parties to consult with experienced real estate professionals who specialize in this area. They can provide valuable guidance on navigating these unique transactions, ensuring that buyers and sellers fully understand the potential advantages and drawbacks before making any decisions.

Legal Aspects of Boston Condo Pocket Listings

Navigating legal aspects related to Boston condo pocket listings is equally important for both buyers and sellers. Understanding the legal landscape surrounding these types of transactions can help protect all parties involved.

First and foremost, real estate agents have an ethical obligation to inform sellers about the potential consequences of opting for a pocket listing. Buyers should also be aware of any potential limitations that come with purchasing a property through this method. Consulting with a Boston real estate lawyer who specializes in these matters, such as Pulgini & Norton, can provide valuable advice and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

It’s crucial to note that opting out of the MLS requires signing an official opt-out form when engaging in a pocket listing. This document acknowledges the agreement between the seller and their agent to keep the property off the widely-accessible MLS platform. Similarly, if a seller chooses to list their condo as “coming soon,” they must also sign an opt-out form for a specific time frame before it hits the market officially.

Understanding these legal obligations and procedures is vital in ensuring a smooth and transparent transaction. By working with experienced professionals and seeking legal guidance, buyers and sellers can navigate the intricacies of Boston condo pocket listings while mitigating any potential risks or challenges.


This controversial practice of not officially listing houses for sale has many questioning who is actually benefiting and is it fair to all? Joining Nick in this discussion was VP and COO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, Craig McClelland and Greg Robertson, General Manager of MLS/Franchisors at Lone Wolf Technologies.

“Keepin’ It Real with Nick Bailey” is a live, interactive must-see show that tackles the hottest topics affecting the real estate industry and those who work in it. The next episode is scheduled to air live on Wednesday, September 8 @ 11 am ET on the RE/MAX YouTubeFacebook and LinkedIn pages.

Boston Condos for Sale



What is a Pocket Listing?

The phenomenon has been around for as long as Boston real estate agents. When Boston condo inventory is low and buyers aren’t finding what they’re looking for on the market, some Realtors will keep their listings in-house. The practice is known as “pocket listing”, because the seller never lists their Boston condo for sale on the public MLS. Instead, they sell to the buyer that the real estate agent has in mind, often for less than they might have if they had advertised to the entire public market.

Why is this Practice Bad?

This year, things have gone more digital than ever before, and pocket listing has caught on with the mega-national real estate sites, Zillow and large real estate chains.They call it the “coming-soon” feature, and while it doesn’t replace the MLS, it does put Boston condos for sale up on their site 30 days before they are listed on the MLS. Because of this the seller never lists their Boston condo for sale to the public MLS. Instead, they sell to the buyer that the real estate agent has in mind, often for less than they might have if they had advertised to the entire public market.

What’s wrong with that? The National Association of Realtors explains: “Some ‘coming soon’ advertisements involve unlisted properties that may or will be listed with a real estate agent in the near future, while others relate to properties that are subject to listing agreements where property is available to potential purchasers only through the listing broker and not available, temporarily or indefinitely, for showing or purchase through other MLS participants. In either case, ‘coming soon’ properties are commonly withheld from the MLS” (emphasis added).

Why This is Bad for Boston Condo Buyers

As a Boston Beacon Hill condo buyer, you want a buyer’s real estate agent working on your behalf. If the pocket listing you find on Zillow is not yet listed on the MLS, you may have to work through the listing broker instead of with your own agent. When that agent is receiving both the buyers’ and the sellers’ agent commission and setting the price (instead of the public market setting the price), how can you be sure the transaction is a fair one?

Why This is Bad for Boston Condo Sellers

As a Boston condo seller, you want the best price possible for your Boston condo for sale and believe me, that is the market price. In Downtown Boston our internet marketing program is reaching hundreds of buyers or more per day on average! When you have that sort of exposure, doesn’t it make sense that you can be confident you will receive top market dollar? It makes no sense for a Boston Midtown real estate agent not reach out to the few hundred potential buyers he or she might have access to each and every day on this Boston condos for sale website.

In certain states, pocket listings and especially the “coming-soon” feature have gained the attention of real estate regulators, and agents could face fines for using it. Massachusetts has no laws in place yet preventing use of the feature, but maybe that’s because the market is not so tight this year to bring out online-pocket listers in mass. In the Beacon Hill real estate market, while inventory may be low, there are still plenty of properties out there in other neighborhoods like Boston Midtown condos for sale


Hopefully, the “coming-soon” feature won’t catch on among all downtown Boston real estate buyers, and that real estate agents won’t pressure Boston Midtown condo owners who aren’t ready to sell into offering an “exclusive” deal to their buyer. Buyer be aware – and always have a Boston real estate agent on your side! Seller be aware – the public market will sell your home faster and for more!

All that being said, there is a potential positive place for coming soon listings. Our goal in using this feature is a little different though. Our goal is not to get an off-market offer and represent both sides – not at all! Our goal is to generate interest in the listing in advance, letting potential buyers know when the home is coming on the market so that we have the best possible opening weekend (when the home is on the multiple listing service and on thousands of public websites). Our goal in using this feature is to match our client’s goal of getting the highest and best price for their home while it is on the public market, whereas most Downtown Boston real estate agents who use pocket listings have a potentially contrary goal to “double-end” the listing and control market inventory for their own realty firm.

Boston Condos for Sale


Call Now