Selling a property off-market or discreetly - what is it and how does it work?

Jun 9, 2022 | by DiJones

It is becoming increasingly common to see real estate signage with a triumphant ‘sold off-market’ emblazoned across it. But what exactly do those words mean, and why are ‘off-market’ or 'discreet' property sales a growing trend in NSW?

What does off-market or discreet property sale actually mean?

The term ‘off-market’ is a little misleading, as it suggests that the property was not ‘on the market’—not for sale—at all. This is simply not the case. An off-market sale refers to a property that has been put on the market without all the typical fanfare of a full public marketing campaign across agent sites and multi-listing portals. It’s a much quieter or what we call ‘discreet’ and often much quicker kind of sale.

Why might a seller choose this method?

There are several reasons that a seller might decide to forgo a very public listing. Let’s have a look at a few of the main ones:

  1. Privacy. A full-blown campaign can create a lot of publicity around your property, and some people dislike the idea of constant inspections, the scrutiny of strangers, and the general sense of revealing their private information to the world.
  2. Speed. With a much less drawn-out sales campaign and far fewer buyers traipsing through the property, this type of sale can often be fast-tracked. Also, the property is likely to be offered only to serious, pre-qualified buyers, further streamlining the process.
  3. Savings. Though getting the word out about the property is still an important part of off-market selling, the means of advertising for off-market sales are often less expensive than high-profile public listings on the major online portals.
  4. Premium prices. Although it’s often suggested that going to auction is the best way to guarantee the highest sale price, some buyers are prepared to pay that little bit more for elite access to off-market properties and without the stress of an auction.

Why might a buyer choose this method? 

Again, there are a few good reasons for a buyer to consider looking off-market for a property. Besides privacy and speed, which affect buyers in much the same way as sellers, a buyer may also be interested in:

  1. Exclusivity. Being one of just a few handpicked, qualified buyers can mean a lot less competition when you are looking for a home. This is a huge drawcard for many buyers who may have missed out on previous properties. We also find that in many cases buyers are prepared to pay more for the privilege of exclusivity.
  2. A perfect match. Often buyers interested in off-market properties will register their interest with a local real estate agent or buyer’s agent, providing ample information for the agents to know exactly what they want and what they are prepared to pay for it. When a perfect property comes up, registered buyers will often be the first to know about it, giving them a better chance of getting the home they really want and, once again, streamlining the process.

How can I successfully sell my property discreetly or off-market?

Although it’s possible to sell off-market by yourself, it’s not recommended. There are many legal and financial hurdles to buying and selling property which are all too easy to trip over.

Ideally, your first port of call should be your local, trusted agent. They can advise you on whether an off-market or discreet sale is right for your property and will help you understand the ins and outs of the whole process.

A strong local agent will have a database of people who are actively seeking properties like yours and will approach them directly once you have decided to list your property. They may also have good working relationships with local buyer’s agents and will draw on those contacts to help you find the ideal buyer as quickly as possible.

While you will probably hold a few small-scale inspections, it is still important to have some professional photographs and other advertising material prepared for your property, as this will give buyers the best first impression of your property.

Are there any disadvantages to selling off-market or discreetly?

It isn’t possible to give a one-size-fits-all response to this question. In some situations, an off-market or discreet property sale might not be the best method of sale, or might not achieve the best sale price for the seller. However, in others, it may be the best way to go in terms of privacy, speed, and price.

You may even find it beneficial to discuss the idea of what is often referred to as a ‘pre-market’ campaign, where serious buyers are alerted to your intention to sell before a public listing appears. This is a mixed method that may work for you and your property.

What is important is to consider how your property would be best served: by a vigorous public campaign or a quiet, streamlined approach. Every property and every seller is unique, and it’s essential to speak to an experienced agent with excellent local knowledge before deciding whether to list your home off-market. Your agent will be able to guide and advise you, and together you will find the method that best suits your particular needs.