Ever considered selling your property but are daunted by the thought of preparing for market, the
endless viewings, and hearing the opinions of neighbours and friends?
Sometimes it just comes down to price. You’d sell if you could get what you want or what your agent
advises you it is worth.
While it was once the preferred choice for people in the public eye, selling off-market has increasingly
become an option for those looking for a discreet sale. The average off-market sale price has tumbled
over the years with a recent report indicating that it is now well below €500k, which suggests that more
sellers are opting for this route, and not just those in the priciest properties.
There are benefits and disadvantages of selling off-market, but sometimes it can help you generate the
highest price for your property.
An off-market sale is one where the property has not been listed on the open market, meaning – in our
digital age – that it is not listed on your agents website or property portals. It also often means that no
photography or floor plans are made, although a brochure may be produced for buyers’ agents to pass
on to their clients.
When selling off-market, a seller still instructs the services of a sales agent who acts on their behalf and
promotes the property through their networks. They will present it to qualified buyers and buyers’
agents who they believe will most likely be interested in the property.
Discretion in an off-market sale is paramount. It is important that the listing is only exposed to serious
buyers and agents with serious clients. This is because sellers may wish to try an off-market route prior
to listing the property on the market with a full marketing campaign, usually to test the market with a
higher price. This is one of the major benefits of an off-market sale: to generate the highest price
This can be counter-intuitive, as it appears to go against the laws of supply and demand. However in this
case, limiting demand can sometimes lead to a higher price. How? If a property is not listed on the open
market, buyers cannot see how long it has been available or whether the price has been reduced; it all
becomes rather opaque. The imminent pressure of a property ‘going to market’ can also be a factor that
drives offers from potential buyers keen to take it before the competition. Both buyers and sellers can
only imagine the demand that the property may achieve if it were to be opened up to the market. This
plays into an innate human psychology that is used by marketeers in every business, from online stores
to supermarkets: to limit the opportunity to buy. It means the buyer is willing to pay extra for the
privilege of not having to compete with other buyers in the market.
Listing the property on the agents website, social media and the property portals, however, shows when
a property was first listed and how long it has been waiting to be sold, plus you can see any reductions
in price that have been applied to help find a buyer. This is the complete opposite to an off-market sale:
if your agent gets the pricing and marketing strategy wrong at the start, your property may be seen as
‘that property nobody wants’. This puts off buyers and often results in low offers.
If you are advised incorrectly, you may end up selling your property off-market under value.
Sometimes buyers are pro-active enough to flyer properties in areas they want to buy, in the hope of
generating a connection with a potential seller. Savvy buyers will use the lure of saving an estate agent’s
fee in order to convince a seller that they have a unique opportunity to sell. These buyers are often well
versed in what a property is worth, having viewed potentially dozens of properties on the market
already. The risk here is that the seller ends up selling to a buyer that approaches them in this manner at
a price below market value.
The fee your agent will charge is very low compared with the cost of getting it wrong.
Instructing an agent to act on your behalf protects your interests as a seller and will prevent this from
happening. They will also help negotiate a buyer’s offer up and hold the sale together through the
conveyancing process if anything untoward arises. You should always get valuations from local estate
agents prior to agreeing a price with the buyer. The fee your agent will charge is very low compared with
the cost of getting it wrong at any point from pricing through to negotiation and sale.
Another tactic that is increasingly being used is the ‘soft market sale’. This is an off-market sale that
whilst not listed on the property portals, may be listed on the agent’s website and promoted through
social media. This often requires a little more marketing collateral to be created, such as a brochure,
video production and drone photography. It is often used when a seller is more inclined to sell but is
looking to try the market first more cautiously. It has the effect of an off-market sale and allows the
seller to move rapidly to full marketing should they wish to progress to a sale more quickly, for example
if they have found another property to buy.
Selling off-market isn’t for everyone. It can be useful when sellers are genuinely looking for discretion or
when they are open to a sale at the right price. For most properties, perhaps excluding those in the
prime markets in Dublin, the highest price is usually achieved by exposing the property to as many
potential buyers as possible, that is through listing it on a property portal, presenting it to search agents,
pushing it out across social networks and matching it with the agent’s registered database. Naturally,
this all hinges on how pro-active your agent is at calling and filtering out potential time-wasters, and
how well your property has been presented to the market.
Everyone’s circumstances are as different as the properties they wish to sell. Going the off-market route
is one of many marketing strategies that can be used by your agent. A good agent will be able to guide
you and your sale through the various options available and construct a strategy that will get the best
result for you and the highest price for your asset. Be sure to consider all your options with an expert
before jumping in to the market; it could be the difference between a win for you or a win for your