Until recently, very little alternative existed for potential buyers who did not find a suitable property to purchase from inventory listed through the local multiple listing service (MLS). Likewise, agents working with pocket listings (homes quietly offered for sale but not listed on the MLS) struggled to generate interest in the homes without risking the overexposure dreaded by some sellers.

Pocketlistings.net is a new search engine for buyers’ selling agents. Its purpose: to locate elusive pocket listings under which sellers quietly advertise their property without putting it on the MLS. Each property is posted by the seller’s listing agent who controls how much property information is released, such as the home’s address and photos. Only selling agents representing potential buyers can access the contact information for each post, thus the website does not accommodate for sale by owner (FSBOs) properties. Selling agents can also post a want ad detailing the needs of their buyers, and the site will match up any corresponding listings.

Pocketlisting.net is free and generates a search for any city, state or zip code.

first tuesday take: While a pocket listing may come across an agent’s desk every now and then, most sellers want to find potential buyers for their homes as soon as possible. Otherwise, why sell? The reason for hiring an agent is to locate buyers ASAP using the knowledge and expertise of a professional.

Unless instructed by the seller, failure to use all readily available avenues and media to expose the property to potential buyers is a breach of the listing agent’s fiduciary duty to get the home sold — the sole purpose of the employment. Agents cannot best locate buyers by limiting their marketing to locating buyer’s agents, but it is an additional way to go.

We know of no legitimate or rational reason why a seller would want to keep their home off a buyer’s radar. If a seller wants a pocket listing, they have no need for an agent except to waste that agent’s time. Pocket listings lost popularity at the same time listing books began to give way to computer-generated information and the internet.

Re: “Is that a listing in your pocket? Pocketlisting.net goes beyond the MLS” from the San Francisco Chronicle