Very wealthy people, including many celebrities, often sell off-market. They do so for prestige and to stand apart from the general real estate market. Like a private club you must be invited to join; buying a house off-market makes buyers feel as if they’re part of something only an elite few are privy to. “Everyone wants something that no one else knows about,” says David B. Dubin, a New York, NY, real estate broker.
But even if you’re not selling a home that’s worth millions, you might still prefer to sell off-market. Why? For starters, it can be easier. A friend or family member might be in the market to buy a home. You can just sell it to them without having to list it first. Or if your home is in a very hot market, you (or your real estate agent) might want to mention that you’re selling to a couple of key people in town and wait to see if buyers start calling.
Dubin points out that you do need to be in a hot market with a desirable property for this to work. Either that, or you need to be in a position where you don’t need to sell anytime soon. “This is for a seller who is in no rush. Without exposure and listing a property, the seller has to own something that many buyers want to purchase,” says Dubin.
In some cases, an agent might approach a seller about selling off-market. While selling off-market may often be a good option for sellers, Mark Ferguson, a Colorado agent, cautions that working with an agent who approaches you directly may not be in your best interest. Ferguson says sellers need to see how much interest there is from all buyers, not just the listing agent’s portfolio of buyers. If the agent is approaching you, Ferguson says, “The seller should not accept offers before the house is put in the MLS.”