Transparency and "Pocket Listings"

Updated: May 27, 2020

As of May 1, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has a new rule that puts a stop to ”pocket listings.” This has generated a wide range of responses, from positive support to outrage. Here’s how these changes will unfold in the East Bay. 

Pocket, or “off market” listings, were marketed only via private networks. They were not publicly available to the public via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so you couldn’t find them on Zillow, Trulia, or Redfin - you had to know the right person. 

This was useful for high-profile sellers who wanted to maintain privacy, and agents and brokerages who wanted to offer their clients the feeling of exclusivity (and represent both sides of a transaction, thereby increasing their commission). It made the home search difficult because buyers needed to know the “right” people.

But now pocket listings are a thing of the past. As of May 1, NAR’s "Clear Coopertation Policy" was enacted across the country, requiring all listings to be placed on the MLS within one business day of being marketed to the public. This could mean big changes for buyers and sellers. However, there are exceptions to the rule. 


If you are looking to sell your home for the highest price, you want as many people as possible to compete for your property. This is why the MLS is so powerful: it reaches more than just local buyer’s agents, it distributes properties to Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and websites across the country. 

For sellers who are concerned about privacy, their property can be placed in the MLS as “Coming Soon.” It won’t appear on public-facing sites - only agents will have access to this information which will limit your public exposure. If desired, your home can still be marketed publicly using tools such as social media, print ads and more. Since the policy's inception in the East Bay, we’ve seen a spike in “Coming Soon” listings as seen in the chart below.

Exception: Office Exclusive

Even before a listing is placed in the MLS as a “Coming Soon”, it can be promoted internally to agents within your agent’s brokerage. MAJ Realtors is a team at Red Oak Realty - the largest independent brokerage in the East Bay with over 160 agents who actively support one another. We call it the Red Oak Hive.

Exception: Landord-Tenant Deals

If you are a landlord planning to sell the property to your tenant and you don’t advertise the listing, you don't have to worry about listing your property on the MLS. 


This policy is a big win for buyers: it allows for more transparency so you no longer have to wonder where all the listings are. You won't see “Coming Soon” listings on third-party websites, but we can set up notifications so you know when a “Coming Soon” listing that fits your basic qualifications hits the MLS.


The new rule will affect people in different ways, but for the most part it is a positive change, giving sellers the ability to optimize visibility for their properties, while making it easier for buyers to find their dream home. 

If you want to find out how these changes affect you, let's talk!