In the world of real estate, “pocket listing” is a term that many people are unfamiliar with. For buyers and sellers, understanding the concept of pocket listings can be a major advantage. 

In this guide, we will address key questions such as:

  • What are pocket listings?
  • What are the benefits of pocket listings?
  • How do you find pocket listings?

Let’s take a closer look at how pocket listings could be your ideal real estate option.

What are Off-Market Homes??

Off-market homes are for-sale properties that are not officially listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These off-market properties are referred to as “pocket listings” because they are being metaphorically kept in the “pocket” of the seller’s agent.

Because pocket listings are not posted on the MLS, they are not visible to other real estate agents. Instead, a pocket listing property may be listed only at a specific real estate agency or a private network or be marketed by word of mouth alone. 

Why Sellers Use Pocket Listings

There are several reasons a seller might opt for a pocket listing rather than a standard listing, including:

  • They plan to sell to a family member or friend.
  • They do not want to deal with a bidding war.
  • They are testing the waters and are not yet prepared to sell.
  • They would like to reduce traffic through their home and avoid the inconvenience of open houses/multiple showings.
  • They want their location to stay private (they may be a public figure, a victim of abuse, etc.)
  • They would like to market the property to an exclusive audience, specifically individuals genuinely interested in buying.
  • They do not want to list price reductions on the MLS.
  • Due to the reduced effort involved in the listing, they will negotiate a reduced commission with their selling agent.

Why Buyers Use Pocket Listings

For buyers, pocket listings can present an excellent opportunity. If you are interested in buying a pocket listing, potential benefits can include the following:

  • The ability to make an offer before other buyers know the property is available
  • A faster closing 
  • Avoiding a bidding war
  • Access to exclusive properties
  • There is often a better chance that the seller will accept your offer
  • More privacy

Are there rules for pocket listings?

In most cases, pocket listings can benefit buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, there have been instances in which unethical real estate agents have attempted to use pocket listings to take advantage of sellers. 

As a result, some parts of the industry have enacted regulations to protect buyers and sellers alike. 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) established a 2020 rule that states that all NAR members (Realtors®️) must list a property on the MLS within one business day of being put on the market. This rule is incorporated as a part of the NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy, which is intended to support efficiency and transparency in real estate transactions. 

However, you can still buy or sell pocket listings, even with this rule in place. If you are interested in pocket listings, you will need to partner with a real estate agent that is not a part of the NAR. In other words, be sure to carefully consider real estate agents vs. Realtors®️ concerning your specific situation.

how to find pocket listings

How to Find Pocket Listings

So, how do you shop for off-market homes? Finding pocket listings as a buyer is doable with a few simple tips:

  • Work with a real estate agent.
  • Look for pocket listings online.
  • Contact homeowners/property owners directly.
  • Browse real estate auctions.
  • Network. 

Work with a real estate agent.

First and foremost, you should reach out to a real estate agent – specifically, one that is not a Realtor®️ (a member of the NAR). Then, you can inquire about available pocket listings in your desired area. If you have a specific property in mind, you can ask if it is available. 

Alternatively, you can contact a Realtor®️ and ask if there are any office-exclusive listings. These properties are only listed within a specific office and are the exception to the NAR’s rule. If you have an idea of the general area you’d like to buy, office-exclusive listings can be an excellent option.

Look for pocket listings online.

Searching for private sales listed online is another way to locate pocket listings. Websites such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and even your local newspaper can be excellent sources for pocket listings. More and more sellers are opting out of working with a real estate agent, preferring instead to work one-on-one with the buyer.

If you locate a pocket listing for sale online, make sure that an agent or lawyer reviews all documents before you sign.

Contact homeowners/property owners directly.

Do you have your eye on a specific property? It may be a long shot, but you can contact the owner directly to ask if they have considered selling it. You can send a mailer or post on a social media group to reach the property owner.

Use a Wholesaler

Want to avoid dealing with the homeowner? Use a Wholesaler to find off-market deals. They take on the intermediary role and have a list of highly motivated sellers to match with investors/buyers.

Browse real estate auctions

Homes for sale in real estate auctions won’t appear on the MLS. A real estate agent can help you find properties being auctioned, or you can look up the information via your local government.

Be aware that homes for auction cannot be viewed or inspected before purchase so you will be taking on a certain amount of risk. Additionally, financing is not accepted at auctions, so you’ll need to have the total purchase amount ready in cash.


You’d be surprised how many pocket listing sales are made simply through word of mouth. If you have friends or family in the real estate or construction industries, they may be able to offer some insight. Or, you could even hear about a property through a friend of a friend – you never know.

Get Financing for Pocket Listings from Capital Fund 1

Capital Fund 1 is a trusted loan provider that serves a broad range of needs, including facilitating financing for buying a pocket listing. Our flexible finance options simplify your search so that you can save yourself time, stress, and unnecessary expense. 

For more information about getting a loan for a pocket listing, don’t hesitate to contact the Capital Fund 1 team today. 

Or, apply for financing here.

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