What is a Pocket Listing and How Can They Help You Buy A Home?

A pocket listing in real estate is a home that is put up for sale discreetly.

These properties are not listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) database but instead are usually marketed through word-of-mouth or a select network of people.

What's in this article?

What is a pocket listing?
How does a pocket listing work?
When would you use a pocket listing?
Pros and cons of pocket listings
How to find a pocket listing
Apply for a loan today with Compass Mortgage

Why would a seller want to quietly list their home? And how would you find out about these homes for sale?

We’ll answer those questions and more, and explore the pros and cons of a pocket listing.

What is a pocket listing?

The MLS is a database maintained by real estate professionals that provides information about properties available for purchase.

The ultimate goal is to connect sellers to buyers by including information such as the listing price, square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

A pocket listing is not included in the MLS database but instead is considered to be in a private, off-market “pocket” that is not presented to the general public.

You won’t find a pocket listing on Zillow or see it in your neighborhood with a “for sale” sign in the front yard. Instead, a real estate agent will help sellers connect with buyers who meet the established parameters.

At the current time, pocket listings frequently appear among high-profile properties that require privacy or confidentiality.

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How does a pocket listing work?

Sellers who choose to sell the home as a pocket listing connect with an experienced real estate agent who is comfortable working with these types of properties.

The seller and their agent control who has access to the property for showings and for purchase offers. 

Negotiations can be more personalized; and sellers can attract buyers who are interested in exclusive, off-market properties.

The agent may also promote the pocket listing among their own network, whether it be other agents or a specific group of buyers. As a result, the marketing efforts are specifically targeted to this audience.

Online platforms also exist for pocket listings but may require a membership or subscription to access the listings.

When would you use a pocket listing?

There are several reasons a seller may choose to use a pocket listing, including:

  • Privacy or to keep the sale of the property confidential
  • More control over the marketing and sale of the property
  • Opportunity to test the market before making it available to the public
  • Ability to target a niche market of buyers
  • Potential for a more competitive market and faster sale

While there are numerous benefits to a pocket listing, there are also some potential drawbacks for sellers and buyers to consider.

Let’s take a look at the full scope of the pros and cons of a pocket listing.

Pros and cons of pocket listings

Both buyers and sellers have considerations to make when it comes to pocket listings. The following pros and cons address each point of view.

Pros of pocket listings


  • Ability to maintain privacy and limit public exposure
  • Possibility of faster transactions, less time on the market
  • Potential for higher offers
  • Greater control over the process


  • Access to off-market properties and likelihood of a competitive edge
  • Potential for better deals
  • Awareness of unique properties with special features
  • Privacy and limited exposure from the public

Cons of pocket listings


  • Risk of not reaching a buyer with great potential 
  • Pricing and sales data more readily available via MLS listings
  • Could result in lower offers because of reduced visibility
  • Less public feedback regarding the attractiveness (or unattractiveness) of the listing


  • Have a smaller pool of properties to review
  • Accessing information about the property can be difficult
  • Indispensability of working with well-connected agents and other industry professionals
  • Possibly missing out on other great properties while focusing on pocket listings

How to find a pocket listing

The most effective strategy for accessing pocket listings is to work with a knowledgeable and well-connected real estate agent.

Experienced agents often have extensive networks and relationships with other agents and industry professionals.

Consider also the following strategies to increase your opportunities:

  • Network within the real estate community, including attending industry events and establishing relationships.
  • Make it known to real estate agents, brokers and industry professionals that you are actively searching for off-market properties.
  • Inform your friends, family and colleagues as well.(Word-of-mouth is a powerful real estate tool!)

Searching for pocket listings requires more work and a proactive approach to the home search. By networking and building relationships, you can gain insider access to these exclusive properties.

Apply for a loan today with Compass Mortgage

Whether you find your home on the MLS or as a pocket listing, your first step is the same: Apply for pre-approval with a mortgage lender.

Compass Mortgage is more than just a lender—we are your partner and advocate throughout every step of the mortgage process.

We offer our borrowers the exclusive Get Committed® program, which puts you in the best possible position to win the home you truly want.

With standard preapprovals, you haven’t secured a loan yet. But Get Committed® allows you to take most of the steps in the loan process to secure a loan commitment before you even make an offer on a home.

A loan commitment essentially has the power of a cash offer, showing the seller you’re fully approved financially and that your deal isn’t likely to fall through. With your financing secured, we can close on your loan in as little as 15 days. We want to help you win!

Get started today to unlock your full range of loan options.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto