Real Estate Brokerage

Real Estate Industry Decision To Limit “Pocket Listings” Good for Consumers, but Major Loophole Limits its Benefits

Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) applauds the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for voting earlier this week to limit the use of anti-consumer pocket listings by real estate agents.  Pocket listings occur when an agent keeps a particular real estate sale listing within their company rather than putting it on the Multiple Listing Service. CFA’s new analysis of pocket listings, Why Pocket Listings of Homes For Sale Are Not In the Consumer Interest, explains why pocket listings harm both home sellers and buyers and also threaten a free, efficient, and non-discriminatory housing market.

CFA, however, also urges the NAR to restrict use of “office exclusives” that allow agents to market new listings within their own firm before they appear on local Multiple Listing Services (MLSs).  “Allowing agents to privately market new home listings to other individual agents does not serve the interests of either the seller or buyer,” said Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow and author of the analysis.  “Sellers may miss out on opportunities to sell for a higher price and buyers are limited in their selection of properties,” he added.

The push for pocket listings comes largely from some agents who seek to reduce the time and expense of marketing and/or to sell to buyers they (or their firms) also represent, allowing retention of the full commission.  The analysis discusses their arguments for allowing pocket listings.

“Home sellers should ask their agent to immediately list their home on the local Multiple Listing Service to maximize its exposure and the sale price,” noted CFA’s Brobeck.  “Home buyers should make certain to search portal websites like Zillow and ask their agent to show them all listings that are the most promising,” he added.