Another attempt to corral the off-market pocket listings into a profitable venture – this by grouping the top producers together into their own MLS Club:
Wall Street traders aren’t the only ones who like to circumvent the conventional marketplace. Real estate agents are increasingly pitching sellers on their version of secretive dark pool trading: Skip the multiple listing service (MLS) and let the agent market the home privately.
Privately can mean everything from an agent bringing in a buyer and collecting the entire commission (typically 6 percent) rather than splitting it with a buyer’s agent. Or it can mean posting a Coming Soon sign on a property before listing it on the MLS. Then there’s the growing number of private agent clubs, closed networks of agents who deal among themselves, often using “pocket listings,” or homes they have yet to — and may never — post to the MLS.
No national data exist on the percentage of residential transactions happening off the MLS. Two small surveys that looked at transactions in a few counties — one focused on California, one multi-state — put it at more than 20 percent of sales. Steve Murray, president of RealTrends, a real estate consulting and data company, says he sees more private agent networks popping up, and expects them to become a bigger presence.
“Twenty percent of agents do 80 percent of the business, so why wouldn’t the big agents want to work just amongst themselves?” he asks.
That’s the pitch for Top Agent Network, which accepts only agents who are among their region’s top 10 percent in revenue generation. It runs 30 chapters of private agent-to-agent online communities in seven states, including California, Massachusetts and Illinois.
Members are part of a closed email loop and have access to online listings and a database on which only they can post and search. Founder David Faudman says he has 4,300 members and expects steep growth as the trend grows. He says the networks are a complement to the wider net of the MLS.
“You can bet your boots that in this market where a listing is as good as cash, some agents are looking to use that as a way to double their income,” says Murray.
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