Friday, November 27, 2015

We offer "off-market", Non-MLS and first look property research to our clients

Top Agent Network
Bob and I belong to high producing agent networks that offer many non-MLS properties for sale. Top Agent Network is a paid subscription chapter offered to top 10% sales Brokers in the Chicago area.   We also network with active builders, developers and hit the streets observing new construction not yet listed.

Bob and monitor demolition permits and off market sites to anticipate upcoming properties.
Properties are listed for sale in many ways; For sale by owner on public and private sites, a simple sign in the lawn or most commonly by Professional Brokers on the local Multiple Listing Service. An estimated 10%-20% of property sales are happening off the MLS. Brokers often represent these "off-market" properties and offer them to the Broker community on private listing services, their own web sites or blogs.

Many of the Top 10% of Chicago area Brokers have been listing and collaborating on Top Agent Network.  This is a paid membership "craigslist" type listing service where verified top sales Brokers list properties for sale and seek off-market properties for their buyer clients.  Bob and I belong to this service mainly to offer the best resources we can to our clients.   However, I generally don't agree with these paid "pre-MLS" and off market sites for Brokers.  I employ them as a necessary evil to help research the real estate market efficiently and help put together transactions for our clients.

 Read on for some quick, unscientific pros and cons of "off market" listing sites used by high sales volume brokers.

Cons: I think these paid listing services tend to allow Brokers to skirt regulations a bit. For example, I've caught a high producing local Realtor stealing my marketing photos for a property listing.  These broker listing clubs tend to have less information than highly refined and regulated major MLS service we belong too (  In general it does not make a lot of sense for a seller to offer a property exclusively off the MLS if they simply seek the best price possible.

New construction is often listed on Pre-MLS sites by Brokers. (Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty)
That said, I believe there are several legitimate reasons to pre-list a property to the successful Broker community.  I also believe they are used by mostly terrific Brokers with excellent consumer and business practices in mind. We work with these agents on professional, above board transactions each and every year.
  • A seller may want a higher degree of privacy.  The MLS shoots a property listing to all third party sites with reciprocity deals (, Zillow, Redfin etc...).  Once in the MLS that property is EVERYWHERE. The selling process can be very intrusive unless steps are taken to manage the process.
  • A seller might want to market the property to the Broker community exclusively to test out pricing. Qualified Broker showings and Top Agent Network stats can provide data to help determine a property's market value.
  • Listing services allow top sales Brokers to collaborate easier when seeking properties in specific areas and buildings. They allow Brokers to monitor high buyer demand and bring that to their sphere of property owners. For example two-flats in Lincoln Square are in high demand by many Brokers and I may bring that data (and the buyers) to multi-unit owners I know.
  • I believe buyers who understand their market and demand a particular property will pay a premium for an "off market opportunity". Believe it or not, some folks are not worried about what OTHERS would pay for a property.  They are just concerned about what it is worth for them. An independent lender appraisal is required when using a loan. This protects the buyer from "over-paying" in a particular market even when a price is agreed upon between buyer and seller. 
When I found a large house in our desired location for my family I was buying it "no matter what" because it met the needs of of my large family and live-in nanny. The appraisal actually came in higher than what we were purchasing at and it's worked out great.

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