Agents who adopt pre-MLS or non-MLS marketing strategies are doing the best they can for their clients. At least that’s the argument agents make in support of the polarizing practice. The logic behind it is simple – according to Bob Safranski, a broker with @properties and Saffron Realty Group, off-MLS marketing helps get the best price for a property.
“There’s a longstanding belief that [the MLS is] the way to get the most people to look at your property, but it’s not necessarily the way to drive the best price at the best possible terms,” he says.
Agents and their clients can benefit from the controversial marketing tactic in a variety of ways. It creates a buzz, or, as Safranski put it, agents are “selling a secret.” Recently, Safranski sold a home within $5,000 of its market value. Without putting it on the MLS, he shared information about the property to a network of brokers he trusts, and one colleague had a client who was a perfect match for the property. When buyers learn a house is available that meets their specific needs, they don’t want to miss the opportunity and are more likely to pay top dollar. If Safranski listed the property on the MLS, he believes the price would have been significantly reduced.
In that instance, the seller preferred not to list the house on the MLS at all. Reasons for going that route include owners who don’t want to pack up or stage their homes, and high-profile clients who want to retain as much privacy as possible. In other cases, listing agents might be asked to market a property to their network before it goes on the MLS. The goals of pre-MLS marketing are to get people excited about the property, see a bigger turnout at weekend showings and receive more offers.
Pre-MLS marketing provides valuable early feedback, too. Agents who share their listings within their trusted networks learn of issues about the property that might lower its value. Perhaps buyers feel the backyard will require a lot of maintenance, or maybe something in the house needs to be cleaned or repaired. Listing agents can then adjust the price accordingly before putting the property on the MLS, avoiding any red flags that might extend a property’s time on the market.
“If you go on the MLS without having talked to anybody about the property, you’re going in kind of blind, and you’re underserving your client at the expense of your traditional view of how a property should be marketed,” Safranski says. “I just don’t think that’s smart.”
Safranski is such a believer in pre- and non-MLS property marketing that he created a network for brokers in Illinois to share off-MLS listings. Launched in Dec. 2014, OffMLS is still in beta and has 600 members and more than 350 listings. The service is free to use and operates similarly to Top Agent Network (TAN), with the exception that any licensed broker in Illinois can use OffMLS, not only the top-producing agents, as is the case with TAN. Safranski said he is expanding OffMLS, which has mobile apps compatible with Android and iOS, to other markets within the next few months.