How Realtors Can Find Homes Before They’re Listed

Shane McCarty

Over time, fluctuations in the real estate market create surges in demand that leave buyers scrambling to find homes in the most highly sought-after neighborhoods. Bidding wars ensue, and some buyers are priced out of the market and forced to rent until they can find an available home.

While these kinds of hot market conditions are not always the norm, buyers would still benefit from knowing how to access property listings before they hit the market. What if you could scoop up a home in 12 South real estate before it even hits the market? That is where Realtors come in — they can utilize their insider industry knowledge and network connections to deliver exceptional value by showing their clients homes that have not yet been listed.

How most homes are sold

Most real estate listings today find their way into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a service that publishes listings that can be distributed online and shared between agents. Because the MLS facilitates the distribution and sharing of listings between various agents, this service makes it easy to expose homes to a wide range of buyers and get them sold. However, what if you want access to listings that aren’t officially on the market?

Unlisted homes

Unlisted homes are properties that have not been entered into MLS listings. A home could be unlisted for multiple reasons. Perhaps the owner is selling without posting their property online due to privacy concerns. The owner may not have yet formalized the decision to sell. A homeowner could simply place a “for sale” sign in the front yard without doing anything else, and this would be an unlisted home. However, in some cases, Realtors can have exclusive access to unlisted homes.

In some cases, a home seller may solicit an agent to help sell a home privately in order to avoid attracting attention. This is often true of celebrities and other high-profile individuals who wish to stay out of the public eye. Other sellers want to get their homes sold without having to go through all of the formal processes of staging, listing, and showing, so selling off-market is more convenient for them.

Pre-market listings

Some homes simply haven’t reached the listing stage yet. Certain ambitious agents will attempt to find a buyer for these homes in the limited time period prior to putting them on the market. While this is not always possible, it eliminates some work and makes it easier for buyers. Realtors are integral in this process, as they have the tools and experience to connect a property with serious buyers. They bring the two together to make a deal.

Imagine finding a stunning home for sale in 12 South without having to worry about competition or pressure from other buyers. While such an opportunity won’t stick around forever, your agent may have clients who are gearing up to sell their homes but haven’t completed the listing process yet. This could be your opportunity to move in on a property before it's listed and put in an offer ahead of the game.

Pocket listings

A pocket listing, as it's known in the real estate industry, is a property that is sold through an agent’s private network without going through the MLS. In recent years, this process has been banned by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade union representing real estate agents in the U.S. While not all Realtors are NAR members, many of the most reputable ones are, as indicated by the REALTOR® logo on the agent’s website. Under the NAR’s “Clear Cooperation Policy,” most listings must be disseminated through MLS within 24 hours. However, there are still ways in which agents can ethically market homes through their private networks without violating NAR rules. In particular, if a seller does not wish for the listing to be made public, then the agent must still file the listing with MLS, but it does not need to be distributed among other MLS participants.


Networking is an essential part of professional development within any industry, and real estate is no exception. By developing a professional network with other agents and homeowners, agents may occasionally be able to present you with an unlisted home. At other times, an agent may gain access to unlisted homes just by developing a familiarity with their community, keeping in touch with homeowners associations, and other networking strategies. As an agent’s network expands, many new opportunities come along.

Realtors utilize a variety of strategies for networking and finding unique opportunities. Those who are willing to be innovative and work hard often find opportunities that would have otherwise not been available. In some cases, a real estate agent or investor will reach out to someone who is facing foreclosure. Such an individual may be interested in selling in order to deal with the foreclosure, and getting the home sold quickly can be incredibly advantageous.

The bottom line

The real estate market is constantly changing over time. Rules, regulations, market dynamics, and the strategies used by agents to sell homes are all subject to variation. Whether you buy a home that’s not yet listed or one that’s been on the market for months, the most important thing is to work with an expert agent who is skilled, competent, and experienced in your local market.

Find out more from an industry insider

If you’d like to learn more about how Realtors can connect you with homes before they’re listed, you’ll want to reach out to a top agent in your area. Shane McCarty is a leading agent specializing in luxury 12 South real estate and other beautiful Nashville properties. Shane is well-versed in market dynamics and promises unparalleled service and dedication to your goals. When you’re ready to begin your real estate journey in the Nashville area, contact Shane McCarty to get started.

*Header photo courtesy of Shane McCarty


My job is to LISTEN to your story. To SEE your vision. I am then translating it into bespoke marketing material to procure potential buyers for your property or utilizing my vast network of sources to present to you the perfect place for your sensibilities to ignite.