Pocket listings are more popular than ever among high-profile sellers. People with privacy concerns often prefer the anonymity of listing off-MLS. And some use it to gauge what a buyer might pay before they make the listing official.

While pocket listings can be beneficial for sellers, they do pose potential risks for listing agents. 

Consider these factors if a seller asks for an off-MLS listing:

1. Remember your fiduciary responsibilities. 
By limiting the property’s exposure, you could be risking dual agency and compromising your fiduciary responsibilities. 

Remember, you need to protect and promote the best interests of your clients. 

2. The seller should be the decision maker. 
An off-MLS listing should always be the sole, voluntary decision of a well-informed seller. 

Never recommend pocket listings to avoid splitting the commission, and always provide a clear definition of potential limitations in the listing agreement. 

3. Notify your MLS. 
You may be required to file a seller-signed certification that says the listing should not be distributed through the MLS. Failure to submit within a specified timeframe could result in a fine.

4. Be wary of fair housing and antitrust violations. 
Using off-MLS listings to screen legitimate buyers or limit access to a select group of brokers and agents could violate local and federal fair housing and antitrust laws. 

Currently, NAR has no official stance on pocket listings. However, NAR’s General Counsel notes that actively discouraging MLS listings is inconsistent with the Code of Ethics. Off-MLS listings should only occur with the best interests of the seller in mind. 

It’s okay to turn down the listing if you’re not comfortable with it.

Reach out if you have more questions about pocket listings.