“Office Exclusives” Skirt NAR’s Ban on Pocket Listings

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Key Highlights

  • NAR policy banned “pocket listings” last year by requiring agents to add listings to local database within one day of publicly advertising listing
  • Notable exemption in policy: listings can remain off database IF they only shared within one brokerage – this  called am “office exclusive”

Pocket Listings Around Forever Until NAR Policy Banned Them Last Year

Pocket listings, also called whisper listings, are essentially private listings agents get from their top clients who want exclusive privacy.  Agents essentially keep those “secret” listings in their pockets…they only tell the secret (the information) about those listings with their select buying customers.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) basically banned pocket listings last year.  Why?  Because some of NAR’s members thought pocket listings were discriminatory.  Only select agents and select buyers were having a shot at those pocket listing transactions.

One Exemption from NAR’s Pocket Listing Ban

There is, however, one exemption to NAR’s year ago pocket listing ban…it’s called the “office exclusive.”

Instead of agents being required to add their listings to their local database within one business day of publicly advertising the listings so that all real estate agents and all potential buyers would have the same  shot, the same opportunity to act on the listings, agents can keep their listings off their local database IF and ONLY IF those listings are shared within one brokerage.

“Office Exclusives” Increased in Year Ending March 2021

According to new research by Redfin, office exclusives or pocket listings accounted for 3% of all sales in the year ending in March 2021.  That 3% of sales in 2021 compares to 2.6% of sales in the year ending in March 2020 and 2.5% of sales in the year ending in March 2019.

Friends and Foes of Office Exclusives or Pocket Listings

Friendly proponents of office exclusives or pocket listings say that pocket listings give sellers an option of more privacy.  More privacy allows sellers to not have to worry about letting strangers into their homes.  More privacy allows sellers to not have to worry about some media entity disclosing buying/selling/monetary information about them and/or their assets to the public or some entity that might use that information against them.

One such friendly proponent of office exclusives or pocket listings is Ryan Schneider, chief executive of Realogy Holdings Corp.  Schneider said, “A property listing is as unique as the home seller, who should have choice in how they position, price and market their home.”

One critic of office exclusives or pocket listings is Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin. Kelman said, “There’s no rationale for, ‘I’m going to show it (the office exclusive/pocket listing) to one group of buyers but not another group of buyers.”

Kelman told Redfin agents to stop using pocket listings in 2018.


Thanks to Redfin, Realogy, and The Wall Street Journal.

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