The Secret Chicago Real Estate Listings Regular People Never Know About

Known to real estate insiders as “pocket listings,” these hush-hush deals happen before buyers get a chance to make an offer. And in Chicago, they’re on the rise.

A recently sold house in Roscoe Village

Photo: Dennis Rodkin

ROSCOE VILLAGE

Walk one block east of the flourishing strip of restaurants and boutiques on Roscoe Street and you’ll see this charmer that sold in May for $1.03 million. But chances are good that you never saw it go up for sale.

That’s because it was one of this year’s many “pocket listings”—houses whose selling agents peddle them to a close network of colleagues before putting them on the open market. Agents say the practice has been very common in areas where inventory is short but the list of buyers is long.

Formerly the province of wealthy sellers who didn’t want the hoi polloi rummaging through the medicine cabinets, pocket listings caught on this spring among sellers for two reasons.

First, the quick upturn in the market meant an excess of buyers, so sellers of truly hot commodities could happily forgo ads and weekly showings.

Second, “you can pre-test the price,” says Robin Miner of @Properties, who has sold at least four pocket listings this year, including the Roscoe Village one. “You tell agents it’s available at X price, and if, in a few days, they haven’t shown interest, you tell the seller the price is too high.”

In the case of this four-bedroom, Miner knew it would pull in a buyer swiftly. “It’s well-maintained, with good room sizes and a huge lower level that’s great for kids, and in a great location,” she says.

Two days after Miner put the word out with an asking price of $1.05 million—and before a single ad appeared—the house went under contract at almost 98 percent of the asking price.

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