Why a real estate association is cracking down on ‘off-market’ properties. Here’s what that means for buyers.

As if buying a home weren’t hard enough, the lack of properties for sale has made the process even more daunting. The problem has resulted in more intense bidding wars for the slimmer pickings and many house hunters particularly those with modest means being shut out. What if you found out there are a lot of homes for sale but you and your real estate agent just don’t know about them? That’s what some buyers’ agents say has been happening with greater frequency, particularly in highly competitive housing markets such as Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Now the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is cracking down on “coming soon” or “off-market” designations, which generally allow sellers to unofficially solicit buyers under the radar without having the number of days it is listed count against them when they go on the market. In addition, keeping these listings off the public multiple listing service means buyers won’t know if a seller has dropped or raised their price expectations.

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