In Dallas, pocket listings are “hip.”
The vast majority of home sellers who list their homes with an agent put the property in the multiple listing service and stick a sign in the yard. But more and more folks opt to market their property on the down low. Agents in Dallas call them hip-pocket listings.
The number of such off-market home deals has ballooned as the number of properties available has declined in Dallas-area neighborhoods. The trend is especially gaining steam in affluent neighborhoods in North Dallas, Highland Park and Lakewood.
“With the shortage of inventory — especially in the Park Cities — more hip-pockets are selling,” said Amy Detwiler, an agent with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty. “A lot of people prefer private sales because they don’t want to put their house on the open market.
“It is privacy issue,” says Detwiler, who estimates that 30 percent of the sales in her office are hip-pocket transactions. “Sometimes I put a sign up after the transaction closes, but not before.”So rather than endure legions of weekend lookie-loos and have images of the inside of their properties plastered all over the Internet, these buyers and their agents keep the listing a secret.
Well, sort of. To sell the house, someone has to know about it. “We rely on our Realtor network to get the word out for hip-pocket listings,” said Karen Luter of Allie Beth Allman and Associates. “We have a hot sheet, and they get spread around at Realtor networking groups,” she said.
Luter said some sellers she represents don’t want to go through the entire process of putting their house on the MLS, with photographs and scheduling open houses.
“There is also an unspoken prestige with hip-pocket listings,” she said. She’s marketing another North Dallas property that the owner doesn’t want to list formally right now. If it doesn’t sell, the home might get a traditional listing after the first of the year.
“If they have a great property, they can give it a shot,” she said. “But the property has to be very unique — it has to be best in show.”The scant number of homes on the market in some neighborhoods is the chief reason off-market listings are on the rise, agents and analysts agree.
“It says that market for good listings is getting very tight,” said Steve Murray, founder of Colorado-based residential brokerage consulting firm Real Trends Inc. “This is happening in other markets as well, especially in higher-priced segments.
“This may be the case for some time as prices haven’t recovered enough to bring new supplies of inventory to match the demand from buyer.”
The number of homes for sale in North Texas has dropped about a third since mid-2010. There is only a 4.5-month supply of houses on the market. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market by real estate analysts.
“In a seller’s market, you always have more hip-pocket listings as the market turns around,” said agent Lydia Player of Ebby Halliday Realtors. “And it still only works if you have a realistic price — people aren’t going to overpay.” “We have only a two-month inventory in that neighborhood,” she said. “And the owners don’t want to have a parade of people through their home.
There’s a lot happening that never shows up in the MLS numbers.