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Finding the Owner of a Home: 5 FAQs About Buying Unlisted Homes

Buying a home that hasn’t been listed? Is that a thing? It most certainly is! Buying an unlisted home can be advantageous to both buyers and sellers in the right situation. Keep reading to learn why and how to find the owner of a house that hasn’t been listed who wants to sell.
Buying a home that hasn’t been listed? Is that a thing? It most certainly is! Buying an unlisted home can be advantageous to both buyers and sellers in the right situation. Keep reading to learn why and how to find the owner of a house that hasn’t been listed who wants to sell.

Is the market in your area so hot you can’t even get in to see a house before it’s sold? You can get the inside scoop and put an offer in before the house is listed on the MLS — with the right local agent. Work with a top agent in your neighborhood to find the owners of homes you’re interested in and get your dream home.

It’s quite common for houses to sell without going on the market. Check out these answers to questions about unlisted sales and how to find the owner of a home who wishes to sell.

1. Are all houses listed on MLS?

No. Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS. This means that unless a FSBO seller pays an agent or brokerage to list the home, their listing won’t appear on the MLS. They’ll instead have to list locally and on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and

Another type of listing that won’t appear on the MLS is known as a quiet listing or pocket listing. An agent has the listing privately, but the home isn’t officially up for sale to the public.

2. What is an off-market listing?

An off-market listing refers to a listing that doesn’t appear on the MLS.

There are various types of off-market listings or pocket listings. Some are ritzy, high-end homes whose owner doesn’t want to go through the hassle of cleaning and showing their home.

Others are listed off the market for 30 days before listing on the MLS as a way to jumpstart marketing on the home in hopes that it will sell faster once the home goes on the market. Others come about when a buyer has their eye on a house and they (or their agent) approaches the homeowner.

There are also various reasons sellers would choose this method of selling their home. Sometimes a homeowner wants to maintain more privacy. This is often the case with celebrities and the like. Can you imagine how many people would show up to tromp through Taylor Swift’s house if it came on the market?

Other times, a seller is interested in testing the waters, but may not yet be ready to sell. This is advantageous as a way to list a home without that pesky days on market number steadily ticking upward. Some sellers even think listing their home privately will make it seem more “exclusive,” thereby garnering a higher sale price. In some cases, they’re right.

Off-market sales are typically faster and the homes are bought as-is. This is also advantageous for a seller who doesn’t want to deal with repairs.

3. How do you buy a house in a tight market?

Searching for off-market listings is a good way to find a house when inventory is low or competition is fierce. This helps to avoid competition from other buyers, increasing the odds that your offer will be accepted.

It also helps you avoid a bidding war. You may wonder how that is advantageous for the seller since a bidding war is a good thing for them. Commissions on off-market listings are typically lower, meaning they’ll save money on the sale and you’ll get a good deal. Win-win.

4. How can I find an off-market property?

A well-connected real estate agent is invaluable for finding off-market or pocket listings. Top agents in an area will often have many of these listings already in their “pocket”. Some of them may even advertise these types of listing on their website.

To find the listings, approach top selling agents in the neighborhood that interests you. Browse the neighborhood for homes that catch your eye. You can then ask your agent to contact the homeowners to see if they would be interested in selling.

If you don’t mind the repairs, don’t underestimate a home that’s in rough shape. The homeowner may be struggling to keep up with the maintenance and an interested buyer out of the blue may be a welcome blessing.

5. Can you find an unlisted home online?

Yes. Some big real estate sites like Zillow allow homeowners to list their homes without putting them on the MLS. They also allow homeowners to market and prepare for 30 days to attract attention before finally listing the home.

Get creative in your search. Real estate sites aren’t the only place to find properties for sale. Check Craigslist, local classifieds, and the like for opportunities that haven’t been officially listed yet.

Finding Your Pocket Listing

The search for the perfect pocket listing begins with a good agent. As we mentioned, an expert, well-connected agent is virtually indispensable when you want to find an off-market property.

The good thing is that here at Clever Real Estate we make finding that agent easy. At Clever Real Estate, we connect you with top-rated local agents and help you save in the process. If you’re selling, you’ll receive a discounted listing commission of just $3,000 or 1% on homes over $350,000. For buyers, Clever Partner Agents offer a $1,000 Home Buyer Rebate at closing on homes that sell for more than $150,000 in 40 states.

Save money with a pocket listing and save even more at closing? Now that’s a clever way to buy a house.

Contact us today to learn more about the amazing opportunities we have for home buyers.


Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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