What Is an Off-Market Property?
An off-market property is either a property that is no longer for sale or is currently for sale but isn’t listed on the multiple listing service (MLS). Off-market means the property is not listed for sale, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the seller isn’t fielding offers. When people use the term off the market, it usually means that the home is for sale but isn’t listed on the MLS by an agent.
A seller may keep their listing off the MLS for several reasons. Perhaps they already have interest from people in their community, or maybe they’re a celebrity and don’t’ want the sale announced to the general public. Or it could be that they aren’t actively looking to sell but could be persuaded if the right offer came along.
Whatever their reasoning, an off-market property can still be for sale. It just won’t be found on the MLS.
Why Buy Off Market Properties?
Off-market properties offer a plethora of attractive benefits to homebuyers. First, you can typically take your time to look over the property because you don’t have as much competition from other buyers.
It also dramatically increases the chances that the seller will be receptive to your offer. It’s much easier to stand out if you’re one of two or three offers compared to ten. Plus, depending on why the seller is choosing to keep the sale under wraps, you may be able to negotiate a better price or terms that work in your favor. Buyers tend to have an advantage with an off-market property because there isn’t much competition to put in a lower bid.
How to Find Off-Market Properties
- Ask a Realtor
- Contact the Owner Directly
- Real Estate Investors
- Public Records
- Real Estate Auctinos
1. Ask a Realtor
An excellent place to start is by asking your realtor or calling up real estate brokerages in the area to inquire about off-market properties. Just because the property isn’t listed on the MLS doesn’t mean real estate agents don’t know about them. Maybe the seller is using a broker to negotiate and close the sale but not for marketing the property. Even if they don’t represent any buyers with off-market properties, they may still be an excellent resource to help you start your search.
2. Contact the Owner Directly
If there’s a property you have your eye on, you may decide to reach out to the owner directly to see if they’re willing to sell. Maybe you notice a home in your neighborhood falling into disarray and think it may make a suitable investment property. You could reach out by putting a note in the mailbox or trying to find their contact information from a neighbor. You could also do what’s called driving for dollars and drive through other neighborhoods looking for deals and use the same method.
If you don’t feel like doing the leg work and negotiating, you can always work with a wholesaler. If your goal is to get the lowest price possible, this might not work because they will be looking to collect a fee. But it will save you the time and energy of contacting sellers, and you can often still get a reasonable price.
Contractors are another great source of information about potential off-market properties. Perhaps they have a client who is fixing up their house to sell but isn’t ready to put it on the market yet. If you develop relationships with local contractors, they may be able to give you the inside scoop before certain properties hit the market.
5. Real Estate Investors
Networking with real estate investors is a good way to learn about off-market properties, especially if you’re looking for a rental or a potential fix and flip. Many real estate investors have their own strategies for finding off-market properties that they may share with you if you get on their good side. You can network with real estate investors by attending local real estate events or contacting them through social media.
6. Public Records
Public records can be a great source of information on local properties. While there isn’t a particular database listing all off-market homes, you can find out who owns a specific property. If there is a house you’re looking at, you can use the public records to find out the name and contact info of the owner. Foreclosures and bankruptcy filings are also available in the public records, which you can also use to find homeowners who may be ready to sell.
Craigslist can be an excellent resource for finding off-market properties. Some sellers may not want to list their property on the MLS but might post an ad on Craigslist, especially if they aren’t using a real estate agent. Keep an eye out for scams, and don’t’ believe everything you see. But if you are lucky, you can easily snag an off-market property if you check their listings section frequently.
8. Real Estate Auctions
Foreclosed homes are often sold at auction at a price far below the actual market value. You’ll still have competition from other buyers, and these properties typically need tons of work. But, it’s an easy way to buy homes that aren’t listed on the MLS.
Off Market Properties FAQ
Does Off-Market Mean Sold?
Off-market does not mean sold. While an off-market home could be pending sale, it could also simply be off the market, meaning that it is not being marketed for sale on the MLS. If a home has recently sold, you will typically be able to find the transaction online, and it would not be listed as off-market.
What Does Off Market Mean on Zillow?
If you see a property listed as off-market on Zillow, it means one of two things. Either the property was formerly listed on the MLS, but the listing has expired, or the home is for sale but is not listed on the MLS yet. This could be because it’s for sale by the owner or a pre-listing that will eventually appear on the MLS.