Pros & Cons

Off-Market Deals: Should You List Your Home in the MLS or Sell Privately?

Here’s a question that tends to come up when a friend or neighbor is interested in buying your home. And they ask if you’d be open to a private sale, instead of a traditional MLS listing. Should you consider it? Here’s my advice.

MLS Listing: Maximum Market Exposure

The main benefit of a traditional MLS listing is maximum exposure. With a public listing, we can market your home to as many potential buyers as possible. This can generate more interest and create buyer competition for your home. That could lead to a higher purchase price, a faster closing date, fewer contingencies, and better offer terms. But even without direct buyer competition, an MLS listing offers more negotiating leverage to sellers. Listings convey a sense of scarcity and urgency; a new prequalified buyer could come along at any time. So, for sellers who are concerned about maximizing their return on investment, a traditional MLS listing is the way to go.

Now, what are the reasons you might consider a private sale?

Off-Market: Poor Property Condition

If your property’s in poor condition, it may not appeal to very many buyers. Run-down homes might not be eligible for some types of buyer financing, too. And if you can’t afford to do major maintenance to get it market-ready, a private sale can help. A cash buyer can come in, buy the home as-is, and the seller doesn’t have to fix anything. That’s why investors often look for off-market deals on fixer-upper properties.

Off-Market: Heightened Security or Confidentiality

Sellers may also consider a private sale when security or confidentiality is of utmost importance. It’s not just for the rich and famous; Some sellers aren’t comfortable showing their home online or having buyers tour it. It’s important to talk through these concerns, because we do have many strategies to help protect you and your family, and your home. We can even redact certain information from a public listing. So, while an off-market sale may not get you top dollar, it’s an option for those who want maximum privacy.

Off-Market: Agent Commission Savings

When a qualified buyer for your property has already been identified, you could save some money in a private sale. If I’m handling an off-market deal, it saves me time or money on things like staging, photography, listing preparation, contractor coordination, marketing materials, signage, and advertising. So I’m happy to pass that savings on to my clients, as long as we do our homework to ensure the buyer is qualified to make the purchase. But a word of caution: Don’t go looking for a buyer first — just to save a little money on agent commissions. Because in reality, your net proceeds (or profit from the sale) could still be a lot higher by going to market with a quality listing.

Off-Market: Friendship, Family, or Preference

Price isn’t the most important thing to some sellers. For many years, homeowners have sold their properties to family, friends, and neighbors, directly negotiating a price that feels good to everyone. This generally favors the buyer, who has the advantage of no competition. But sometimes a seller is more concerned with finding a buyer who will care for the property in the same way, or giving an opportunity to someone they love who really needs it. But even in these situations, the same legal requirements and local regulations still apply; that’s why using an agent to facilitate the transaction helps both the seller and buyer navigate the process.

Getting the Best Price in a Private Deal

Unless your home will be difficult to sell, or it involves friends and family, there aren’t many compelling reasons to consider an off-market deal. But if a private sale makes sense for your situation, your agent can still help you determine a fair price and navigate the difficult paperwork, from contract to closing. If you’re a homeowner in Kitsap County, I’d be happy to answer all your questions without any pressure or obligation. Give me a call or send me a text any time.