Off Market Real Estate DC

When it Comes to Real Estate, Believe Half of What You See, and None of What You Hear. Thanks to Ben Franklin for that Quote. Whenever I’m in a struggle, there’s always a founding father quote to get me through. Okay, not really.

I had a fascinating conversation with a prospective client a few weeks ago. I actually talked her out of using me as her agent. I’ll explain that in a bit. The conversation went something like this:

“It seems like one real estate brokerage has a lock on so many listings around here. If houses are selling off-market, would I benefit from using them?”

No, people. No. This perception that some agents push that there is a magical behind the scenes market is the real world example of clickbait. Is there an internal list? Possibly. Probably. But riddle me this. If you were a seller, living in a seller’s market, would you agree to sell your house to a smaller, restricted market? Or would you want as many eyes as possible on your home to drive the price up in a bidding war?

“I’ll take Bidding War for $1000 please, Alex.”

See? You could have failed Economics 101 and you would still know the answer.

Before the internets was a thing, there was a “big book” with all the real estate listings. And there were tough-talking, big-haired, NYC agents who would sooner burn that book in the ashtray on their desk than share it with anyone. That was the value they offered – information.

“Git your mitts off m’book, DONNA! Doze are muy clients.”

I never want to say never, though. There are times where a property does transfer off market and that happens for one of two reasons:

  1. The seller wanted a quick low-hassle sale and didn’t feel compelled to game the market for more money.
  2. The agent convinced their seller client that this is a good idea.

Do sellers sometimes have a price and not want to endure showings and people in their home? Sure do. Especially if there is a question if a home would sell or sit on the market – as we are seeing now with condos, thanks to Covid.

But, I’ve seen off-market sales where I know the seller could have gotten more money if it went live. I would say 90% of the time it is not in the seller’s best interest. But you know whose best interest it is in, 100% of the time?


You got it. The Real Estate Agent.

Regardless of all of it, there are a few basic tenets by which I run my life and my business. They all come courtesy of my dad.

  • No one can take an education away from you
  • You can never repair damage to your name and reputation
  • Loyalty and your word are everything

Back to the client call. This prospective client mentioned an agent she had worked with in the past, whom she liked very much. I told her to stick with him. I said anyone who convinces you there’s this magical “off-market” market is in it for themselves, not for the best of their own client. And even though their client isn’t you, this isn’t in your worst interest either. What if the property hit the market and was overpriced and then sat there? You would have paid that price and the rest of the market would not have. That’s not good.

The brokerage the prospective client mentioned happens to be a pretty polarizing company. People in real estate either love them or hate them. Suffice it to say, they have business practices that do not align with those life lessons from my dad. There was some merging of the brokerage with a company that had customer database software which then resulted in the brokerage allegedly having access to all client information. They pay agents to join the brokerage for access to that client database. Among other things.

A friend said, “Yes, but my clients are my clients. They aren’t going to leave me.”

What if a new business model, in an ever-changing series of business models is that of a discount brokerage. How will those clients feel if they can pay significantly less to sell their home by remaining with your brokerage as opposed to following you wherever you may land? And the brokerage has all their contact information because you, as their agent, gave it to them? In exchange for a signing bonus, with ink that came from a Wall Street pen?

I am not for sale. My client list and contact information is not for sale. You can bet your ass on it.