What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (2023)

Reviewed by: Brandon Brown

What does it mean when a house is off market?

Some houses noted as “off-market” are simply off the housing market and not for sale.

Off-Market Definition

But more frequently, the term “off-market” is used to refer to homes that are very much for sale, even though they’re not listed through the multiple listing service (MLS). While they’re technically “on the market,” they won’t show up on popular sites like Redfin and Realtor.

How can you buy or sell a home through an off-market deal? This is your guide.

Off-Market Listings: Terms to Know

Before we dive into the benefits of buying or selling off-market, it’s important to understand a few frequently-used terms or phrases that you might not be familiar with, particularly regarding the status of a home.

  • Under Contract: If a home is listed as “under contract”, this means the buyer and seller have agreed to the terms of an offer, but the contract is not yet finalized. Though both the buyer and seller are committed to this transaction, there is still a possibility that the deal could fall through, depending on the contingencies laid out in the contract.
  • Contingent: If the status of a home is listed as “contingent”, it indicates an offer on the home has been accepted by the seller, but the deal is not finalized until a certain event takes place (known as a contingency), such as a home inspection or mortgage approval. If this event doesn’t occur within a given period, the deal will not go through. This term is also commonly used when the prospective buyer is waiting for their current home to sell before they can commit to buying the new property.
  • Pending: If a home is listed as “pending”, that means all contingencies have taken place but the home sale is not yet finalized. This is typically the final stage of a home under contract before the deal goes through.

Why Sell Off-Market?

First things first—of all the home selling options, why would a homeowner choose to sell their real estate off-market, risking the appearance that their property is not for sale?

Today’s current real estate market has more buyers than it does inventory.1 This means great opportunities for sellers since there’s always the potential for multiple offers and bidding wars.

But an off-market listing, aka pocket listing, has some potential advantages.

  • Lower commissions – In real estate transactions, sellers typically pay their realtor’s fee and the prospective buyer’s realtor fee (usually as a set percentage of the sale). But setting up a pocket listing makes it possible to circumvent realtors or pay only one fee.
  • Higher sales price – Sometimes, a property lingers on the housing market for more than 30 days. In these cases, a potential buyer might start to present a low-ball offer. But when there’s no official listing, there’s no stigma attached to a longer sale time. Likewise, the sense that the listing is “exclusive” could make the home seem more desirable.
  • Less hassle – Selling a home means open houses and showings. If your home is on the market for weeks, it could receive a parade of visitors, upending the balance of daily life. There’s also a financial cost to repeatedly cleaning and tidying up! Beyond the burden of showing, it can be overwhelming to sort through multiple offers. Off-market listings might result in fewer offers, but they allow the seller to maintain more peace of mind.
  • Faster sales – Need to sell your house fast? You could always work with an instant buyer (iBuyer) who will make a cash offer on your home based on market data. If you like the offer and purchase agreement, it’s sometimes possible to close this type of off-market sale within days.

Why Buy Off-Market?

There are some clear advantages for a seller —but they apply to a potential buyer, too.

  • Potential market deals: It’s possible to get a deal on an off-market property, whether because the seller is paying a lower realtors’ fee or because there’s less competition for the property.
  • Less competition: It’s no secret that the red-hot real estate market has caused bidding wars to skyrocket amongst home buyers. If you’ve been outbid on several properties within your desired neighborhood or geographic area, finding an off-market property could be the best way to proceed with your real estate search.
  • Flexible timeline: Off market listings typically offer more flexible timelines as these homeowners aren’t necessarily in a rush to sell. You’ll have more time to review the property and weigh your options before making your decision.

MLS is Fighting Back

In 2020, the National Association of Realtors was able to pass a resolution requiring that members post any property they’re listing to the local MLS within 24 hours. The MLS and National Association of Realtors both state that it’s in the best interests of consumers and the general marketplace for all properties to be listed publicly.

And, although the National Association of Realtors is not a legal entity, it nonetheless boasts strong membership amongst licensed realtors.

But not all sellers agree with the NAR.

Obviously, what benefits realtors doesn’t necessarily benefit buyers and sellers. Luckily, there are ways to avoid an MLS listing.2

  • Sellers can ask their listing agent to completely opt out of the MLS.
  • Alternatively, a sellers’ agent could provide an “office exclusive” listing only to the other agents in their real estate office without posting to the MLS.
  • Finally, homeowners can choose to sell the property themselves, whether to an iBuyer or another off-market buyer.

Selling Your Home Off-Market

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Don’t want to stage your home for a photoshoot or deal with a long line of potential buyers waiting to view the interior?

The next step is to create a game plan for your off-market sale.

Step 1: Choose Whether to Use a Realtor

If you’re not listing with an MLS, do you really need a realtor?

The short answer is that it depends.

A realtor can help with the following steps:

  • Finding qualified buyers – If you think you already have an extensive enough social network to find qualified buyers, you may not need to work with a professional.
  • Setting a sale price – Setting the right price for your home is key. You don’t want to leave money on the table. At the same time, setting the price too high can scare off qualified buyers. If you’re selling off-market, you can take your time finding the happy medium and the right buyer. But if you’re concerned about selling quickly, work with a professional or choose an iBuyer.
  • Weighing and negotiating offers – Are you looking for a seller who will waive inspection contingencies in the purchase agreement? How much would you negotiate down over a safety issue like radon? Do you need a cash offer, or can you wait for a prospective buyer’s financing to come through? If even contemplating these questions starts to stress you out, you might want a real estate agent to help streamline the process.

Step 2: Get the Word Out

Maybe you already have a friend, family member, or neighbor who is interested in buying your home. If that’s the case, go ahead and ask for their offer.

If you don’t have any prospective buyers, the next step is working your social network. Let the following people know you’re ready to sell:

  • Family
  • Neighbors
  • Friends in local professional or philanthropic organizations

If you’re working with a seller’s agent, they’ll also let financially qualified buyers know about your listing.

Then, it’s time to wait and see how interest develops. Hopefully, you can circumvent staging and photography altogether, progressing right to walk-throughs for serious and qualified buyers only.

Step 3: Consider iBuyers

Beyond offers from friends and family, iBuyers can make instant cash offers. You may be thinking, “what is an iBuyer?”. It’s important to understand what an iBuyer vs realtor can offer during this process. Working with an iBuyer means no dealing with:

  • Realtors
  • Long waits for buyer approval
  • Negotiations
  • Legal fees

Want to see how much your house is worth? Request an offer from an iBuyer. If you don’t like what you see, you can always wait for another offer.

Step 4: Weigh Your Offers and Get Support to Close

Whether or not you choose to use a realtor, working with a lawyer is key in creating an effective contract that protects your interests. Or if the buyer has their own contracts (like FlipSplit) having someone review to give you peace of mind can be helpful, but not necessary. Once you’ve accepted an offer, you’ll progress through the other typical stages of a real estate transaction.

If everything goes accordingly, you’ll soon be ready to make a new investment. Maybe you’re even ready to buy a new property off-market.

Buying a Home Off-Market

What does it look like from the buyer’s perspective? Unless you’re one of the sellers’ lucky neighbors or professional contacts, how would you even hear about an off-market home?

Here are our tips and tricks:

  • Use your network – If you’re interested in a particular neighborhood or even a particular street, put the word out. Maybe you have a friend who already resides in the area and knows what the neighbors are up to.
  • Ask your realtor – Realtors might have access to “office exclusive” listings, or they could hear about a suitable property through the grapevine. If you’re not already working with a realtor, find one with deep connections to your target market.
  • Search online – While off-market homes won’t show up on sites that draw from MLS listings (Realtor, Redfin, etc.), Zillow aggregates some off-market listings. Likewise, you can look at local websites in your area to connect with people who are contemplating selling their properties.

With any luck, you’ll hear about the perfect home.

Potential Disadvantages of Buying and Selling Off-Market

We’ve outlined the many advantages of off-market properties for both buyers and sellers, but are there any disadvantages?

  • Time Commitment: Finding unlisted properties can take significantly more time and effort than traditional ones. Rather than browsing your local MLS, you’ll likely have to tap into external resources including your realtor or surrounding community.
  • Limited Reach: If you’re looking to sell off-market, you risk limiting your potential audience therefore making it less likely to find the right buyer. Listing your home publicly could potentially generate more interest and result in higher competing offers.

Despite these disadvantages, there are still plenty of reasons why an off market transaction is the right choice. Identifying your top priorities and resource capabilities will help you determine which type of real estate transaction makes sense for you.

What About Homes That Aren’t For Sale?

Thus far, we’ve mostly concentrated on homes that are off the MLS market, but very much up for sale. But what about those other homes—homes that are truly “off-market” and not available for purchase?

Some people buy their dream homes by contacting the owners. However, be aware, it can be a little shocking to receive an anonymous note or out-of-the-blue email. That’s why it’s better to make this kind of inquiry through a real estate agent.

  • Your realtor can contact the buyer’s agent from the last transaction to ask if the homeowner might be interested in selling.
  • If they are, your realtor can help you write a compelling offer letter that hits the right price point.

Just beware that people who aren’t looking to sell may need more financial incentives to change their plans. In some cases, they might ask for more than the market price. In other cases, you’ll get a flat-out “no.”

In the best-case scenario, they’ll keep you in mind if they do ever choose to sell. If not, it’s on to the next dream property.

Take the Hassle Out of Your Home Sale With FlipSplit

There are more ways than ever to sell your home.

Don’t want to deal with realtors, lawyers, stages, photographers… or even potential buyers? At FlipSplit, we make your real estate fantasy a reality. When you sell your home to us off-market, we aim to provide the highest cash offer possible to ensure you’re getting the fair market value for your home. Then, we make repairs and upgrades, sell the home, and split any excess profit with you.Unlike other cash home buyers, we conduct our business with the homeowner’s best interests in mind, with the goal of maximizing your home’s value and final resell profits.

Because we buy homes as-is, there’s no lengthy inspection or appraisal process. In fact, you can sell your home in days rather than weeks or months. Learn more about how it works.

If you’re looking for more information on maintaining your home or selling a property, explore our blog articles on “Selling a House that Needs Work and “Ways to Avoid Foreclosure.”


  1. CNN. It’s crazy. There is no inventory. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/26/business/housing-market-shortage/index.html
  2. Investopedia. How to find and buy off-market homes. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/121415/how-find-and-buy-offmarket-homes.asp
  3. Inman. What Does Pending Mean in Real Estate?
What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (3)

Reviewed by: Brandon Brown

As a long-time Asset Manager, Investor, Real Estate Agent, and Broker/Owner of BayBrook Realty in Orange County, Brandon Brown is one of FlipSplit’s lead Real Estate experts. Having worked on over 2,000+ real estate transactions, Brandon brings a depth of knowledge that ensures clients are appropriately treated with honesty and integrity. His insights and advice have been published in numerous blogs beyond FlipSplit, and he keeps a close eye on market trends and statistics, which are updated weekly on his social media pages. Outside work, you can find him participating and serving at church, cycling, mountain biking, surfing around Orange County and beyond, and enjoying time with his wife and two daughters.

What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (4)
What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (5)
What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (6)
What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit (7)


What Does Off Market Mean in Real Estate? | FlipSplit? ›

Here, "off market" refers to a house that has sold without ever being publicly marketed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) — a local database of homes for sale.

What does off market mean in real estate terms? ›

Off-market listings are properties that are for sale but aren't listed on multiple listing services. Some sellers desire an off-market listing to test the waters, maintain privacy, save on commissions, or create a sense of exclusivity that could result in a higher selling price.

Why would a home be listed as off market? ›

Generally speaking, a home that is “off market” is not for sale. This means that the homeowner is not actively trying to sell their home - or if they are, they are not doing it through a public channel. Sometimes it can also refer to a home that will be for sale, but hasn't been actively listed yet.

Why do investors want off market properties? ›

Better Profits: The off-market buying process tends to offer greater discounts on properties because of the general situation the owners are in and that fewer people are trying to purchase the property. These discounted properties allow you as the investor to make more money when fix and flipping.

What is an off market item? ›

The term off-market in real estate can mean one of two things; either the home is not for sale, or it is, but it's not listed. Most often, it's the latter. The house is for sale, but it was not listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) by an agent in the area.

What is the difference between market and off-market? ›

Trade in the stock market is carried out in two forms, one which involves the stock exchange and another which is settled between two parties without the involvement of the clearing corporation or the exchange. While the former is known as market trade, the latter is termed as off-market trade.

What is the difference between off-market and on market? ›

An off-market property is one that is not listed on the MLS (multiple listing service). This means that the property is not (yet) marketed to the public, so you wouldn't see that property publicly listed for sale, even though the seller is in the process of selling the home.

Why do houses say back on the market? ›

There is a Problem With The Home Inspection. A lousy home inspection is a top reason why a house comes back on the market. A home inspection will look at all a home's major components to identify any problem areas.

What is the difference between temporarily off market and withdrawn? ›

Temporarily Off-Market: The property has been taken off the market for a set period of time. DOM is paused in this status. It will not reset. Withdrawn: The property has been taken off the market for an extended period of time.

Why did my house disappear from Zillow? ›

There could be a lag between when a house goes on the market and when Zillow's feed pulls it in. If the agent is doing well, they may not sign up for Zillow's services or upload their listings. In some sensitive situations, such as a divorce or death in the family, the owners may not want the home publicly listed.

Is it a good idea to take your house off the market? ›

If your home has been sitting on the market for too long, taking it off the market for a while can be a good strategy. It could help you start fresh with a new pool of buyers. A stale listing can be a red flag for buyers, who might assume there's something wrong with the property, even if there isn't.

How often should you check on an empty house? ›

In order to minimize the risk, insurance companies often require a home to be checked in on every 48-72 hours. The exact period of time varies by insurer, so be sure you know what your home insurance policy requires.

Why are investors buying so many houses? ›

Investors piled into the housing market in 2021 due to rock-bottom mortgage rates and surging housing demand, and are now retreating amid projections that home prices have room to fall.

How do you handle an off market deal? ›

7 Tips to Ensure an Off Market Real Estate Deal Goes Smoothly
  1. A Brief Overview of Off Market Real Estate Deals. ...
  2. 1- Work with a real estate agent. ...
  3. 2- Use specialized real estate websites. ...
  4. 3- Hire a professional appraiser. ...
  5. 4- Get your investment property financing lined up. ...
  6. 5- Buy title insurance.
Jan 17, 2020

How do you handle an off market listing? ›

How Buyers Can Deal With Off-Market Listings
  1. Contact homeowners directly, asking if they want to sell—and possibly make an offer.
  2. Look for online marketplaces, such as “for sale by owner” sites.
  3. Attend real estate auctions that involve foreclosed properties.
Nov 2, 2022

What are the examples of off market transactions? ›

If you wish to transfer some or all shares held in your demat account to the demat account of someone else, it is called an Off-Market Transfer. The gift of shares to your family members is an example of an Off-Market-Transfer.

What does off market mean finance? ›

From Longman Business Dictionaryˌoff-ˈmarket adjective [only before a noun] an off-market deal involves buying or selling shares, but not on an official stockmarketan off-market dealerThe commodities traders were accused of cheating customers through off-market trades that prevented orders from being offered in the ...

What is the abbreviation for off market? ›

Active (or ACT): This house is for sale! It's listed, it's available, and it's ready to meet you. Closed or Off Market (or CL): This property is sold and no longer available for sale.

What is the rule when buying a house for its market price? ›

For the real estate market, a buyer must value a property higher than the amount they are willing to trade for that property. At the same time, the seller must value the property at a price below the money offered.

What can cause a closing to fall through? ›

A home inspection can reveal unanticipated, expensive repairs that will delay or halt closing. Some issues that can crop up include damaged wiring, roof problems, HVAC or plumbing issues, drainage problems, structural damage or poor home maintenance overall.

Why is a house pending for so long? ›

Homes are listed as pending because even though they are under contract, they haven't sold yet. There's always a chance the sale could fall through – for instance, if the buyer's financing was declined.

What does time off market mean? ›

Time off market, uh, is a payment from a buyer directly to a seller being offered on a purchase agreement to take that house off the market, to give them some time to do their due diligence.

Do saves on Zillow mean anything? ›

Zillow helps buyers and sellers by allowing users to click on a heart in the upper right hand corner of the listing to save — or favorite — the home. These saves can show sellers how their listing is doing, but saves don't always translate into showing appointments.

Are the views on Zillow accurate? ›

The "views" and "saves" (seen next to Time on Zillow) are numbers you want to be high—but they are not cumulative for the time the house is on the market. They only show views and saves made over the previous 30 days. So don't be shocked if those numbers actually go down over time.

Why do some houses not have pictures on Zillow? ›

Through the MLS other brokers or prospective buyers may view the listing. As Zillow will need to pull the listing from MLS to make it appear on the website, the process of having a listing appear on Zillow is not always immediate. This is one of the most common reasons that certain houses do not show up on Zillow.

Are houses cheaper during a market crash? ›

Key takeaways

Mortgage rates typically drop during a traditional recession. Home prices can drop as well, with fewer qualified buyers and less competition for homes.

Is it bad if house is on the market too long? ›

When you look at listings for homes online, they usually have a part of the listing that shows how long the home has been on the market. After 90 days, most real estate agents deem that property as "stale." This stale property may get less money when it finally does sell.

Is it better to sell house when market is high? ›

If California housing inventory is low

When supply is low and demand is high, selling your home can be far more profitable.

What happens to a house when no one lives in it? ›

What Happens When a House Sits Vacant? Due to deferred maintenance and neglect, vacant houses are usually characterized by problems such as overgrown yards, broken windows, collapsing roofs, mold, and broken water pipes. Some of this damage is caused by vermin like raccoons, rats, mice, and bugs.

How clean should your house be before listing? ›

Indoor cleaning checklist
  • Clean baseboards around the edges of all rooms.
  • Vacuum and wipe down the window seals in each room.
  • Clean the inside and outside of all windows.
  • Wipe down the front of any cabinets and clean all cabinet handles and doorknobs as well.
  • Steam clean carpets in all rooms.

How do I know if my house is clean enough? ›

9 Signs Your Home is Cleaner than You Think it Is
  • Friends remove their shoes when they come over. ...
  • You prefer to clean as you go, especially when cooking. ...
  • You make your bed. ...
  • You put things away when you're done with them. ...
  • You own a proper duster—and you aren't afraid to use it. ...
  • You have a schedule.
Oct 16, 2016

Who owns most houses? ›

The Largest Private Landowners in the United States
1Emmerson FamilyCalifornia, Oregon, Washington
2John MaloneMaine, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming
3Reed FamilyCalifornia, Oregon, Washington
4Ted TurnerKansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota
21 more rows

Who is the largest single-family home owner in the US? ›

What company owns the most single-family homes? Invitation Homes is the largest single owner of single-family rental homes in the United States, managing more than 80,000 homes as of 2021.

What percentage of homes are sold to investors? ›

According to data reported by the PEW Trust and originally gathered by CoreLogic, as of 2022, investment companies own about one fourth of all single-family homes. Last year, investor purchases accounted for 22% of American homes sold. This is significantly down from the 80% number in 2020-2021, why is this?

Can you buy a delisted house? ›

A delisted house, then, has been taken off the market— it doesn't show up on the MLS anymore, and it's officially no longer “for sale.”

What does no longer on the market mean? ›

This is referred to as an “off-market” listing. Often, a “no longer on the market” tag implies that the seller has decided to facilitate the sales process independently. Sellers who choose this option do it in a bid to keep as much profit as possible and because it offers more control.

What does off market withdrawn mean? ›

Sometimes sellers will take a home off the market and relist it at a later time so it doesn't show up as having been on the market for months. The sellers want a break from showing the house during the holiday season or for personal reasons, but they plan to put it back on the market at a later date.

How do you make an offer on a property that is not for sale? ›

Making an Offer on a House That's Not for Sale

Armed with the information on why the house isn't currently for sale, prepare an offer letter tailored to the owner's situation. Be flexible and work with the owners on a possible move-in date, or offer to let them rent from you while they find a new house.

What price do you get delisted? ›

With investors trying to exit their positions, sellers outweigh buyers, causing a stock's price to fall. If a stock's share price drops below $1.00 and remains below that level for 30 days, the exchange may notify the company that it is not in compliance with listing requirements and is at risk of being delisted.

How do you sell delisted? ›

Delisted shares cannot be traded on the stock exchange, to sell these shares one needs to trade them in the over-the-counter market.

Why do some houses not show up on Zillow? ›

Non-disclosure state — Your home is in a “non-disclosure” state (Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming) where transactions are not publicly reported and therefore, we do not have enough data to create a Zestimate.

Why not to sell when market is down? ›

Panic selling, when the stock market is going down, can hurt your portfolio instead of helping it. There are many reasons why it's better for investors to not sell into a bear market and stay in for the long term.

Why not to sell in a down market? ›

Stocks usually deliver better returns over long timespans than other types of assets, despite being vulnerable to downturns like the current one. If you sell when stocks are down, you'll miss out on the gains you'd get if and when the market recovers.

How long does the market usually stay down? ›

The average length of a bear market is 292 days, or about 9.7 months. That's significantly shorter than the average length of a bull market, which is 992 days or 2.7 years. Every 3.5 years: That's the long-term average frequency between bear markets.


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