Do pocket listings have their place in the LA market?

Flexibility to play with pricing is essential, top agents say

Top brokers debate pocket listings
Some luxury brokers think off-market listings give them more flexibility

Is it time to get rid of off-market listings altogether?

It’s a hotly debated topic in the Los Angeles residential brokerage industry at the moment, with the National Association of Realtors discussing a policy that would require agents to enter any and all listings into their multiple listing services.

NAR claims the policy will increase transparency in the industry. It’s a point that other bodies, such as the Real Estate Board of New York, have also made. But many local L.A. agents dealing at the top end of the market take issue with it, arguing that banning pocket listings would restrict their ability to experiment with pricing and timing and would impede their ability to do their jobs.

“I do believe in off-market listings,” Mauricio Umansky, co-founder of the Agency, said during a panel at Inman Wednesday. “I do believe in pocket listings.”

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Hilton & Hyland’s Gary Gold said that MLSs may be overreaching by trying to exert greater control over how agents conduct their business. He described such policies as a “power trip.”

“I think we should be policed somewhat,” he said, according to Inman, “but not treated like children.”

Gold pointed to one MLS policy that requires agents to classify a vacant lot – which may be the site of a top-tier luxury development – as “land.” This policy, he said, would mean the property is listed in the MLS where “no one looks at it.”

Many brokerages have experimented with drawing greater exposure to pocket listings. Last year, Pacific Union, now part of Compass, launched a portal aimed at allowing sellers to gauge interest for a home before it hits the MLS. And in 2017, Agency broker Christopher Dyson kicked off an MLS of sorts for pocket listings. [Inman]  — TRD