The National Association of Realtors (NAR) voted in late 2019 to ban off-market listings. These are properties marketed outside of the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and promoted within agent or brokerage networks.
NAR is working to ensure that agents and buyers have access to all available listings, and that sellers’ homes receive maximum exposure. A listing agent is now required to put a property in the MLS within 24 hours of any public marketing—Web site promotion, For Sale sign, email newsletters, etc.
A total of 2,173 single-family homes sold in 2019, with 174 (eight percent) of those homes selling before they hit the MLS. Granted, that doesn’t seem like off-market sales represent a big chunk of inventory. But having sufficient inventory to meet demand has long been a challenge in San Francisco, so having access to all available listings can make a big difference in a buyer’s search.
NAR and the local Realtor associations will be enforcing the off-market ban starting May 1st. So there should be far less of a mystery when you spot a “Coming Soon” For Sale sign outside a house. Local MLS members will have access to all listings, including those in the “Coming Soon” category—the closest we’ll be coming to off market because properties in that category are not accessible to the public. (There are 47 houses and 74 condos in the Coming Soon category.)
Your best bet as a home buyer will be to connect with an agent so you can get access to the full spectrum of properties available in San Francisco.