We receive a lot of questions about buying and selling homes not using the traditional MLS service, and actually have more than a little experience with it. Earlier this year for example, we sold 429 Oakdale in Corte Madera off MLS, through one of our networking groups, for $2,979,335. We have helped clients purchase off MLS listings as well. So we thought a review of off MLS listings, and how it works, would be helpful for everyone.

There are several ways homes are sold off market. First is internal office communication. Coldwell Banker has a monthly sales meeting to review all upcoming listings, and often homes get sold this way, before the public knows about it. Other brokerage firms have similar meetings. So it helps to know someone at the largest brokerage firm in Marin – Coldwell Banker!

Second, there are private networking groups that actively solicit information and sales. We belong to two of the largest, Top Agent and Marin Platinum. Both are open only to agents that meet minimum sales numbers.

Third there are competitive services to MLS on the internet. Aalto is one of the newest, but Zillow also allows people to sell homes through their website.

How successful are these services?

MLS now has a section not visible to the public where agents can enter listings that were not sold through MLS. It gets entered after the sale, and is done because it provides helpful market data for agents. Not everything gets reported, but we believe a lot of it does, as agents get credit in sales statistics if entered, and we have noted that most of the off market sales we hear about get reported.

In reviewing the last six months of data, some key facts quickly emerge.

Off MLS sales are about 10% of on MLS sales. There were 1,483 homes sold via MLS in the last six months, and 153 homes were reported as off MLS sales.
Off MLS sales skew to the higher end of the market. Average sale price for MLS was $1,419,945, and for off MLS it was $2,049,285.
Consistent with the higher end skew, off MLS sales average $881 per sq ft. On MLS sales average $881 per square foot. We believe this is more reflective of higher end homes being sold off MLS than necessarily higher demand.

Clearly a lot of homes are being sold off MLS. It also definitely skews to the higher end of the market. For example, in the last six months there were 38 homes sold on MLS over $4,000,000. Off MLS reported 15 sales, a much higher proportion than the overall market.

We believe that in most cases, MLS is the best way to sell your home. Or buy one, for that matter. MLS feeds all of the major websites with a listing (Zillow would probably not exist if it not get listings from MLS). Quite simply, the more potential buyers that see a home, the better the chances are that someone will like it enough to put an offer in. And offers are what sell homes. We have even been able to generate multiple offers the last few years. And while this does sometimes happen with off market MLS sales, it is far more prevalent with homes that receive MLS exposure.

But we also believe that off market exposure is good for homes as well. We always market listings through our off market groups, prior to going on MLS, as savvy agents then supply that information to buyers who are looking for a certain type of property. Often they are the first people to see the home, and often they end up submitting an offer. As noted, the more buyers that get exposure, the better the chances are of selling the home quickly.