What Does It Mean If a Listing Is Not in MLS Yet?

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The real estate market operates through multiple channels, with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) being a pivotal tool for both buyers and sellers. However, not all properties are immediately included in the MLS database. These properties are often referred to as “off-market listings.” If you are currently in the market for a new home, you may be wondering how to access these off-market properties . In this guide, we will cover the most commonly asked questions: what does it mean when a house is off-market? Does off-market mean rented? Does off-market mean sold? Why would a house be taken off the market? Understanding the implications of listings absent from the MLS is a key first step in eventually comprehending the dynamics of Canadian real estate transactions.

Understanding Listings Absent from the MLS Database

The MLS is a centralized database used by real estate professionals to share property information and facilitate transactions. It contains crucial details such as property features, pricing, and status. However, some properties might not appear in the MLS immediately upon being put up for sale. There are various reasons for this absence, including:

  • Pocket Listings: Agents might keep certain listings off the MLS to maintain exclusivity and privacy for their clients. These "pocket listings" are marketed privately within an agent's network before being made available to the broader market.
  • Pre-Market or Coming Soon Listings: Sellers may want to generate interest before officially listing their property. These pre-market or "coming soon" listings allow them to prepare the property, conduct repairs, or build anticipation among potential buyers before entering the MLS.
  • Seller's Preference: In certain cases, sellers might prefer to limit public exposure initially for privacy reasons or to test the market with a selective group of potential buyers before launching a broader marketing campaign.

The examples above serve as a sample of the potential explanations for absent listings. In reality, there are a number of justifications for an absent listing, and the absence of a listing from the MLS database does not necessarily mean it has been rented or sold.

What is the Significance of Off-Market Listings?

In a hot real estate market, off-market listings can often be the miracle many buyers are looking for. In a market where properties are getting sold hours after being posted, off-market listings may be the only way to purchase a home without having to make a split-second decision. Because off-market listings are not shown to everyone, accessing them gives you access to homes that fellow homebuyers aren’t seeing—providing a huge advantage. Off-market listings can also be useful if you are seeking an investment property rather than a residential home. Properties in great locations are easy to rent out or flip, but they unfortunately get snatched up immediately. Opting for an off-market listing can be a great way to access prime properties in prime locations.

The advantages of off-market properties can vary for sellers. Some sellers, such as celebrities or high-profile individuals, seek discretion or find themselves in sensitive situations. As such, they benefit from keeping their properties off the MLS, thereby controlling who views their home and when. On the other hand, the absence of their property from the MLS might limit exposure to potential buyers, potentially affecting the property's visibility and the speed of the sale process.

In order to access these exclusive properties, you will most likely need to work with a real estate agent that has strong working relationships with a wide variety of both individual and institutional sellers. As of January 1st, 2020, the National Association of Realtors passed the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy, making it more difficult for realtors and sellers to keep listings off the MLS. However, it is important to note that the NAR’s sphere of influence and jurisdiction is limited to the US, and Canadian listings have therefore not been greatly impacted.

The Implications of Properties Not Yet in the MLS

While looking for properties not yet in the MLS may seem like a tempting opportunity, it is important to understand the implications of this decision:

  • Working with a Knowledgeable Agent: Partnering with a well-connected real estate agent can provide access to off-market listings, widening the scope of available properties. However, it can be difficult to identify the best agents to work with. As a result, it is a good idea to conduct thorough research before selecting a real estate agent. Ask about their experience with off-market listings, and read through previous customer reviews to see if they are a good fit for you and your needs.
  • Stay Informed: Keeping in touch with real estate professionals and monitoring local market trends can help you stay updated on upcoming listings before they hit the MLS. If you are working with a great real estate agent, they may even be able to notify you themselves when properties within your geographical and price ranges become available off-market.
  • Flexibility and Patience: Buyers interested in off-market properties need to exercise flexibility and patience, as these listings may take longer to become widely available. However, the hard work associated with off-market listing hunting will eventually pay off, when you are able to find a hidden gem of a property before the rest of the market.

In conclusion, the absence of a property from the MLS doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of market viability. Instead, it often signifies a strategic decision by sellers or agents to control the timing and exposure of the listing. Understanding these nuances can provide valuable insights for both buyers and sellers navigating the dynamic real estate landscape. To set yourself up for success in the property-hunting process, one thing that can significantly improve your odds is getting a pre-approval . Having an exact price range in mind, and confirmation from your proposed lender will help you be more credible when communicating with sellers, both on and off-market. To learn more, contact Clover Mortgage for a free consultation and get started on your pre-approval today!


Do all agents have to be in MLS?

While many real estate agents choose to participate in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) due to its widespread use, and the benefits it offers in terms of property exposure and networking, it is not a strict requirement. Agents most commonly opt out of MLS when their region or property-type of interest is not listed on the MLS (e.g. remote areas, niche property-types). Others may opt out for personal reasons or preferences.

While not being part of the MLS can limit an agent's ability to access certain property listings and information shared exclusively within the MLS network, it doesn't necessarily inhibit their ability to conduct real estate transactions. Agents can still market and sell properties using alternative means, such as through their network, private listings, or specialized marketing strategies.

What happens if an MLS listing is incorrect?

If an MLS listing contains incorrect information, it can create complications for both buyers and sellers involved in the real estate transaction. Here's what typically occurs when an MLS listing is found to be incorrect:

  1. Correction by the Listing Agent: The responsibility for correcting errors in an MLS listing primarily lies with the listing agent. Upon discovering inaccuracies, the listing agent should promptly rectify the information in the MLS database.
  2. Communication with the MLS Authority: If the listing agent becomes aware of inaccuracies or receives feedback from other agents or interested parties regarding errors in the listing, they should notify the MLS authority overseeing the database. MLS administrators often have processes in place for agents to report and rectify inaccuracies.
  3. Impact on Buyers and Sellers: For buyers, incorrect information in an MLS listing can lead to misunderstandings, wasted time viewing unsuitable properties, or incorrect assumptions about the property's features or condition. Sellers might face challenges in effectively marketing their property if the listing contains errors, potentially affecting the property's visibility and desirability.
  4. Potential Legal Ramifications: In cases where inaccurate information significantly impacts a transaction, it could potentially lead to legal issues. If the inaccuracies are severe and cause financial harm or misrepresentation, it might result in legal disputes between parties involved in the transaction.
  5. Professional Repercussions for Agents: Agents are expected to provide accurate and truthful information in MLS listings. Consistently providing incorrect or misleading information could damage an agent's reputation and might lead to disciplinary action from their brokerage or the real estate licensing board.
Rick Sekhon
Written By Rick Sekhon
"Guiding you through the maze of mortgages with expertise, integrity, and personalized solutions, ensuring your path to homeownership is smooth and successful."