A New Perspective: Hide and Seek | Real Estate Insights

The pros and cons of selling off-market.

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

I spent the first half of my childhood in a tract house, a post WWII development in Sacramento full of cookie-cutter homes and large families teeming with children of all ages. Title Nine hadn’t yet been established, so the concept of organized sports for girls didn’t exist.  Aside from little league for boys, there weren’t the choices there are today. Instead, our folks threw us out of the house in the morning with the understanding that we weren’t returning until dinnertime.On warm summer evenings, we converged out front for massive neighborhood games of hide & seek until darkness pulled us inside for baths and bed. Before phones, before computer games, before Netflix, we entertained ourselves with bikes, scooters, hula hoops, jump ropes, roller skates, and games . . . It was a simpler time to be sure.

Things aren’t nearly so simple now, With all manner of entertainment and competition available at the mere touch of a key, it’s rare to see children playing outside en masse. Certainly, I’m not seeing the kids in my neighborhood engaging in games of hide and seek (or any others).

Does keeping a for-sale home out of view net a higher sale price?

However, there are a certain number of high-end Sellers who like the concept of hide and seek; who believe that keeping their property off the MLS (the Multiple Listing Service), creates more allure and desire.

It doesn’t. It just makes it hard to find.

They’re often the same Buyers who insist on NO signage, NO Opens, and NO Brokers’ Tours.


In a world where nearly ALL Buyers begin their search online, the concept of keeping a house “secret” by keeping it off the INTERNET and out of public view makes no sense under most circumstances. When we’re looking for a needle in the haystack – especially on properties where the buying pool is lean to begin with – keeping a property under wraps can only hurt these Sellers who believe that SOMEHOW, SOMEWHERE, SOMEONE will materialize out of thin air with a large sack of cash and pay them whatever they deem their property is worth. (Good luck with that.)

As Agents who primarily work on the sell side of the transaction, Sarah and I take the business of selling your home quite seriously. In fact, we have a fiduciary duty to make sure no stone is left unturned, so left up to us, we’d prefer to shout about your property from the rooftops. Indeed, we want to employ the best options to market the property aggressively, post photos/videos both in print and in social media, and make clear to all 1,548,058 licensed Agents in the state of California (and beyond) that your home is for sale. To our way of thinking, “secret agents” belong in the world of James Bond, not in the world of Real Estate.

But are there legitimate reasons for keeping a property “secret?” Sure.

If privacy trumps money, selling a property “off-market” may well make sense for you. (Beyonce certainly isn’t opening her house to the general public, nor is Bill Gates.)

Likewise, if flexibility with respect to staying in the home is more important than achieving top dollar, Sellers may elect to stay put, preferring that their Agent(s) bring them a Buyer instead of going through the motions of having to move prior to selling the house. (That makes sense.)

Moreover, if you prefer your neighbors not know your business, if you’re incredibly private, if you want a quick sale, if you need to know how much you have to work with in order to buy your replacement property, if you prefer not to prep the property, or if you’re looking for the simplest solution, then selling off-market may be the appropriate way to go.

Go ahead — test the market.

However, it’s important to note that selling a house “off-market” means that the property will NOT be market tested. Therefore, you may be leaving money on the table. It also means you should never look back, second-guess your decision, or regret it after the fact. In reality, very few Sellers are comfortable with this risk vs. reward scenario (and for good reason), which is why most homes come to market, especially if multiple offers is the goal – not just one.

But if you’re choosing to sell “off-market” because you think your home is too important to be exposed alongside other properties, then you’re setting yourself up for a game of hide and seek that’s unlikely to work in your favor.

Ollie, ollie, oxen free!

How can we help you?

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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