• Erin McGinnis

Large Spike in Off-Market Sales in Novato

Updated: Apr 20, 2018

38 Pierce Drive in Novato's Presidents neighborhood just sold off market for $1,615,000. We sold this home the year before "on market" for $1,565,000.

A new trend seems to be gaining momentum in Novato home sales: the off-market transaction.

What does it mean to sell your house "off market?"

It means that you contract with a listing agent as usual, but you sell your home without the property ever going on the MLS (multiple listing service).

In the first quarter of this year, 88 single-family homes sold in Novato. Of those, 16 sold "off-market." That was 18% of all sales, up from less than 1% a year ago!

Why the sharp increase in off-market sales?

The short answer is high buyer demand for homes and low supply. Here's what's happening: with so many buyers in the market, and not that many homes for sale, buyers are facing stiff competition and many are getting beaten out multiple times. They make offers, but are outbid by others. So, agents are actively looking for off-market sale opportunities so their clients can buy a home without competition (or less competition anyway).

A lot of this off-market activity takes place via the Top Agent Network (TAN), of which we are members. TAN is the verified top 10% of agents in Marin County, and we do the majority of business in the county.

Does a seller benefit from an off-market sale?

Typically, competition is what drives up home sale prices, so exposing your home to the entire market via the MLS is considered the best way truly to know what your home is worth.

However, it's becoming more common for member agents to post their listings to Top Agent Network while the home is being prepared for market with the message that the sellers "are willing to show and sell off market before the home goes on the MLS."

Sometimes the home will be advertised off-market at a slightly higher price as a way to test interest. Sometimes buyers are willing to pay a premium just so they don't have to compete in the open market on a home they really want.

We would only suggest that a homeowner sell off-market if it clearly benefits their situation and their goals, and we can discuss this strategy with you if you are thinking of selling.

Success story of an off-market listing

In January, we were in the process of helping our clients get 162 Corte Alta in southern Novato ready for market. The home in the Loma Verde neighborhood had been a rental property for the past 5 years, and before that it was a family home for decades.

Based on comparable sales, the data pointed to a list price of $799,000. The home has an amazing lot -- a huge flat back yard with a view, which is unusual for the neighborhood. We expected the home to receive multiple offers and we planned to market it widely on the MLS.

But as part of our pre-marketing efforts, the home caught the attention of some agents, and we received three offers on the home before it went on the MLS. One offer was all- cash for $880,000, or 10% above the list price. Because it was all-cash, it wouldn't require an appraisal, which removes a lot of uncertainty. Our sellers felt this was too good to pass up, and they were thrilled to accept the offer. See what they had to say about it.

The market is very strong right now. If you'd like to know what your home is worth, or are having thoughts of selling, please call us today! 415-725-1911

Further reading:

Off-Market $1.9 Million Sale in Presidents Neighborhood

5 Home Improvement Projects Novato Sellers Must Do To Get Top Dollar

Cash is King in Marin Country Club

Outside reading:

Sell Your House Without Putting it On The Market