If you’ve ever sold a house, it is likely that you will have listed it with a local estate agent who will have advertised it in their shop window, on their website and on property portals like RightMove and Zoopla. But while this is still the most popular way to sell a property, research has found that more people are choosing to sell their houses off-market.
Selling off-market means that the property is not listed publicly on the real estate market but is instead advertised privately to a select group of potential buyers. When selling a house off-market, there are no advertisements or ‘For sale’ signs outside the house.
There are many reasons why someone would want to sell their house off-market. Many high-value houses are sold off-market because the owner does not want the public to know that they are selling their property or what price they are hoping to get for it. This is why off-market properties are also referred to as “discreet property listings”. Another reason for an off-market sale is that the owner wants to sell quickly. The reason for the quick sale could be divorce, illness or a death in the family, for example. In such circumstances, a seller may also not want to deal with the stress of having a constant stream of strangers viewing their home.
If you are selling your property, you may be considering selling it off-market rather than in the traditional way. In this article, we can help you make an informed decision by taking you through the advantages and disadvantages of selling off-market and explaining how to sell your home in this way.
Is selling my house off-market a good idea?
Selling your house off-market has multiple advantages, some of which are that you have more control over the selling process, you will only be dealing with serious buyers, you can make a faster sale with less hassle, and there’s more privacy and security.
On the other hand, the disadvantages to selling your house off-market are that you may struggle to find a buyer, and there’s the potential for a lower sale price.
Continue reading to find out more about the pros and cons of selling a house off-market.
Advantages of selling your house off-market
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the pros of selling your house off-market.
More control over the selling process
If you choose to sell your property off-market, you will have more control over the selling process than you would if you listed it on the open market. You can choose not to enlist the services of an estate agent — which means no estate agent fees — and you can set your own price (although you still need to be aware of the current market rates for your area and property type).
You will also save on marketing costs, as you won’t need to pay for other professional services such as photographs and floorplans. These services can total hundreds or even thousands of pounds and add weeks to the sales process. Off-market sales do not demand any of these services, thus saving you time and money.
Only dealing with serious buyers
Selling off-market also means fewer time-wasters. Most people who come to view a property will have seen it listed in the windows or on the websites of estate agents. This means anyone can organise a viewing — including neighbours who are thinking about selling their own homes and want to get a closer look at the competition and those who want to have a nose around.
By selling off-market, only a select few will hear about your intentions to sell your property, and they will likely be more serious about buying. This is because they will have either gone to the effort of seeking out your property themselves or been targeted by a specialist estate agent with a database of potential buyers.
Off-market buyers tend to already be in a position to buy because they have the cash funds, they have nothing to sell, or they are unable to find a property that meets their specific requirements on the open market and are prepared to wait for one they like to come up, which they can buy straight away.
Plus, if you are fortunate enough to have a select group of serious buyers, demand for the property increases, which could mean a higher selling price.
Faster sales with less hassle
Off-market sales are usually more targeted than open-market property sales, typically resulting in a faster sale. This makes off-market sales ideal for sellers looking for a quick sale.
When you sell off-market without the help of an estate agent, you select potential buyers yourself. This means you can negotiate with them directly, which can increase the chance of a fast sale.
If you don’t have any potential buyers in mind, an estate agent that has experience in dealing with off-market properties should be able to help you sell quickly. As mentioned, they will have a database of clients who are looking to buy property. A good estate agent will have a thorough understanding of their clients’ wants and needs, which means the result should be a quick and easy sale.
Selling off-market also means less hassle, as there will be fewer viewings.
Privacy and security
Selling a property off-market enables you to keep a high level of privacy, discretion and security.
Off-market property sales are widespread among high-profile and high-value property owners, who may want to keep their sales private for personal or professional reasons.
Disadvantages of selling your house off-market
While there are many positives to selling your house off-market, it is important to consider the negatives too. In this section, we’ll explore these in more detail.
Difficulty in finding a buyer
In the previous section, we explored the benefit of limiting your exposure, but it is important to understand that there are disadvantages to this too. You may struggle to find a buyer outside of your network, or you may find that the value of your property falls due to little demand and a lack of competition.
When you sell a property off-market, you limit the number of people who can see it. Your house cannot be found on property listing platforms, which reduces its visibility to potential buyers.
Even if there is interest in your house, you may struggle to find a buyer due to trustworthiness concerns. Some buyers may be wary of off-market transactions, as they may perceive it as a lack of transparency or an attempt to circumvent the traditional real estate process. This could reduce the number of serious enquiries or offers you receive.
Whether you are trying to sell your house off-market or in the traditional way, it is always a gamble, as there is no guarantee that you will find a buyer. However, in a slow or declining market, where buyers are scarce, you have even less chance of selling it off-market.
The potential for a lower sale price
Despite the limited exposure, you may have found one or two potential buyers for your property. But fewer interested parties means fewer offers and less competition. Without competition, buyers may not feel the same urgency to make an offer or negotiate on the price. This could lead to a lower sale price for the property.
When you sell a house off-market, you also have limited market feedback. Without publicly listing your property, you may not receive valuable comments from potential buyers or real estate agents. Their feedback can help you understand the market better and adjust your pricing strategy or make necessary repairs or updates to the property to make it more sellable.
How to sell your house off-market
You can sell your house off-market in several ways. These are some of the most common:
- Use a specialist estate agent — Find a reputable estate agent with off-market experience to sell your house without advertising it to the public.
- Use online listing services — It is possible to advertise your home discreetly on property portals. An estate agent can do this by adding only internal photos, giving a general location or the office address instead of the property address and keeping the description to a minimum.
- Reach out to potential buyers directly — You can do this for free on social media. Facebook, for example, has closed VIP member groups that have the potential to get your property seen by multiple serious buyers at once.
- Host your own viewings — You can act as your own estate agent by advertising your house in your local area and hosting your own viewings.
- Sell at auction — If you need to sell quickly, an auction is a good alternative to selling on the open market.
- Sell to a cash house-buying company — Cash house-buying companies can buy your house quickly and are usually prepared to buy no matter what state it is in. If you go down this route, though, be prepared to sell for less than your house’s market value.
- Use a part-exchange scheme — If you are selling your house to buy a new build, you may be able to trade its value for a discount on your new home.
How to find an off-market house
If you are looking to buy an off-market house, here are some suggestions for where to start your search:
- A specialist estate agent — Search for a reputable estate agent with experience in dealing with off-market properties. They will add you to their list of potential buyers and will be able to let you know of any discreetly marketed houses that may be of interest to you.
- Word of mouth — Many sellers tell their family, friends and colleagues that they are selling their houses before they list them officially, so speak to those around you to see whether they’ve heard of anyone who is looking to sell.
- Approach the owner directly — If you have seen a house you would like to buy but cannot find it advertised anywhere, speak to the owner to ask whether they would consider selling it off-market.
There are many reasons why you might be considering selling your house off-market. Maybe you don’t want the public to know that you are selling your property or what price you are hoping to get for it. Or maybe you want to sell quickly due to a divorce, illness or a death in the family.
Overall, selling a property off-market can be a beneficial option for those who value privacy, want a targeted marketing approach, and are looking for a faster sales process with potentially less competition. However, it is important to note that off-market sales may not always result in the highest possible selling price, as they are limited to a select group of buyers.