There are many options when it comes to selling your home. Do you work with a listing agent? For sale by owner? Use the MLS system? What do you price the property at? How do you market it? And so on. One important consideration before any of that is whether you want an off-market home listing or not. Off-market homes for sale have many benefits to the sellers including privacy and control over the sale. 

private home sale

What is a Private Home Sale? 

A private home sale, also known as an off-market listing or pocket listing, means selling a property without any public listings through the Multiple Listing Service or other public platforms. Off-market sales protect seller privacy, provide exclusivity, and offer less day-to-day disruption for showings, messages, and open houses. Private listings can be shared specifically by the seller, or within private networks of real estate agents, without publicizing the listing. 

Pros of Off-Market Home Listing 


One of the biggest draws of off-market homes for sale is the high level of privacy. Not having your address listed on real estate websites is especially appealing to anyone with a high value for their privacy, including celebrities and the wealthy. The fact that your property is for sale is only shared with a select few real estate agents, or people you share it with, who may have potential buyers. If your property is extremely unique, or you are someone well-known in the area, a private home sale prevents some fanfare and chaos from being involved in the selling process. 


An off-market home listing will not reach the number of potential buyers a public listing in the MLS would, but sometimes quality is more important than quantity. People want what they can’t have. Buyers might perceive off-market properties as more desirable, and more exclusive. If their agent approaches them with an “I have a house you might be interested in, but it’s not listed anywhere,” it may pique their interest more than “Here’s a link to a property.” This sense of exclusivity may lead to a quicker sale at a higher selling price. 

off-market homes for sale

Less Disruption

A public listing can lead to public open houses, drive-bys, phone calls and emails, and more showings. Using a pocket or private listing limits the amount of contact, digital and in-person, with potential buyers. Open houses are less common, and showings are limited to the exclusive handful of buyers who are in the know. This lack of disruption can be especially welcoming if the property for sale is a multi-unit property with renters, families with children, well-known individuals, and sellers who are simply very busy individuals. 

Lower Transaction Costs

Selling and buying property has plenty of additional costs other than the house itself. Sellers utilizing an off-market home listing save money on marketing expenses and other promotional investments that are unnecessary for a private home sale. 

Testing the Market

Some sellers use the concept of off-market listings as a test run. An agent can list the property on a private online network only for agents to determine if there is much interest at the currency price point. If you decide not to sell, or to drastically lower the price, you can move the listing to the MLS with no one in the public knowing the price dropped and the listing has already been on the market. When houses have been listed for a while, buyers are more likely to negotiate an even lower price. 

Cons of Off-Market Home Listing 

Limited Exposure

The biggest downside of a private listing is the limited pool of potential buyers. Sellers can miss out on any buyers not working with real estate agents, or anyone not working with the specific agents in the network who have access to the off-market listing information. The perfect buyer for your property might just be unaware that your house is even for sale. 

Lower Sale Prices

Off-market homes for sale generally don’t have the type of bidding war or competition the open market may have. The limitations in prospective buyers mean a limited number of offers and the possibility of receiving lower offers than you would on the open market.  

Difficulty in Setting Price

Setting the price to list your property may be challenging without public feedback from open listings and open houses. Sellers at open houses often ask prospective buyers if they think the pricing is fair, and online interest can help gauge if the asking price is a good amount. Without that feedback, setting a price can be a challenge. However, working with a real estate agent who knows the market can help ensure your asking price is right where it should be. 

Selling Off-Market 

Selling your home off-market with a pocket listing can be done on your own, or with a listing agent. A listing agent can provide a larger pool of potential buyers through their networks, without having a public listing anyway. Selling a house by an owner in Illinois can be done while still avoiding the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system and retaining privacy. 

off-market home listing

How to Sell a House by Owner in Illinois

Generally, when selling a house by owner in Illinois or elsewhere, sellers take advantage of flat-fee MLS services to get their property in front of as many potential buyers and agents as possible. If the goal is to sell off-market, using the broad MLS is not the way to go. However, many regional MLS databases, including the Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) that serves the Chicago area, allow sellers to list properties in a private network. MRED’s Private Listing Network (PLN) is only accessible to professionals in that network. The MLS is still used, but a private listing is still possible.  

Other options to sell a house by owner in Illinois off-market include using word-of-mouth tactics, for sale by owner-specific websites, and even sites like Craigslist, that allow sellers to include whatever details they desire and retain a level of privacy they may not achieve with a full public listing. 

Contact the Experts at Prello Realty

The first step in selling your home, even if you are looking for a private sale, is to contact a local real estate agent for expertise. The team at Prello Realty can provide the right advice, tips, and tools, to sell your property the way you want.