Key Highlights

  • Sellers wanting to maintain privacy and options to call the shots looking at private sales
  • Resurgence of whisper listings since COVID outbreak
  • Current seller’s market with high demand and low inventory makes off-market appealing to some sellers and buyers

Whisper or pocket listings have always appealed to sellers and buyers in the high end of the market. Privacy, discretion and the potential of selling without troops of strangers viewing the property in showings have inherent appeal to both sides of the transaction process. Now, throw the COVID pandemic health risks into the mix and whisper, off-market listings are becoming more common.

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Cathy Franklin, a NYC Corcoran agent, said, “Whisper listing have always been very desirable.” Purchasers can get the first look, sellers don’t have to worry about non-vetted buyers traipsing through their homes and now, both buyers and sellers feel less threatened about becoming virus-infected by some unknown person. In fact, said Franklin, both agents and buyers are approaching owners about selling their properties.

“Everyone is resetting and re-calibrating their lives right now, and they don’t necessarily want everyone to know what’s on the agenda,” said NYC-based Compass agent Jim St. Andre. Whisper listings “…provide some relief to people in the middle of that situation.” Other sellers may just want to get a read on or test the waters to see if they can actually get the price they want if/when they decide to sell.

If getting the best price is the goal, can a whisper listing actualize that result? Yes, if the buyer is willing to pay that top price for the privacy and/or the lack of competition involved with the process. No, if the property is over-priced in the first place.

One complication to whisper listings is that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently enacted a policy that tightened restrictions around marketing off-market properties that limits potential reach. No more social media to boost property visibility.

That being said, owners of in-demand properties located in in-demand areas are using whisper listings more and more these days in hopes of making quick, well-timed, private sales.

Scott Durkin, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman, confirmed that he recently sold a whisper listing in 24 hours. Durkin said, “There are enough people waiting in the wings that are poised and ready to make a move. If you (as an owner) are thinking about (a sale) in terms of less disruption, this is the time when you’re able, as a seller, to put more restrictions on what you want.”


Thanks to MansionGlobal.

Also read: Podcast: Looking For Listings? What Is Working NOW To Generate Listing Leads (You May Be Suprised) | Tim and Julie Harris, How Pandemic Changing Suburban Real Estate, Top 20 Metros for Home Seller Gains in 2019

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