Ask McEnearney Rebecca McCullough 9.9.21

We are currently experiencing the most competitive real estate market we’ve seen in over a decade. Sellers are doing whatever they can to sell homes for more, and buyers are desperately looking for any homes suitable to buy. Sadly, many buyers are being beat out in multiple offers and are becoming frustrated. 

Another frustration for buyers is when they find out a home has sold “off market.” Why didn’t they know about it? Why didn’t the seller put it on the market? What was their motivation for keeping it from full market exposure? Did they know I was out there waiting? I would have given them a better offer!

The answers to those questions can vary from seller to seller. But if the seller is thinking they can get more for their home on an off-market sale, they are typically wrong. Or perhaps sellers think they aren’t leaving too much on the table when selling off market. We have found this to be incorrect. 

BrightMLS is the multiple listing service that agents in Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas use. BrightMLS recently completed a two-year study on homes sold that were listed on MLS versus those that sold “off market.” The study reviewed almost 500,000 sales. It was conducted by two individuals with PhDs in economics who had no relationship with the MLS. 

The study proved that the median sales price of homes sold on MLS was 16.98% higher than those sold off MLS. It makes sense: The more people that can see the home translates to more potential buyers interested in the home, resulting in an increased likelihood of more offers. Full market exposure matters.

In today’s global market, people buy homes in the United States from all over the world. Whether they want to move a block away or halfway around the world, most of today’s buyers rely on the internet to start their search for a new home. In the DMV, we deal with countless military moves and government relocations, not to mention the growing private sector relocations to our area. If a home is sold off-market, how would those people see it?

I personally bought my first house in Alexandria after first seeing it online. I called my agent from 1,000 miles away and said I’d be in town for two days to hopefully buy it as long as it was as it appeared in the pictures. Between my research online and previous visits to the area, I knew what we wanted. And, two days after the call to our agent, we were under contract.  

As a Realtor, I have had clients call me from across the country because they saw a house online. I offer FaceTime showings with permission from the seller and have ratified several contracts without the buyer ever stepping foot in the property. How would my client have seen this property if it was marketed off-line?

Occasionally there are times when sellers prefer an off-market sale. Some of those reasons include:

  • COVID or Health Concerns. Understandably some sellers were uncomfortable having buyers come through their homes while they were still living there.
  • Fame. If you’re a person of some notoriety, you may not want your home open to the public.
  • Privacy. Even if you're not famous, a person may want to keep a move under wraps for personal reasons.
  • Preparation.  Some people simply don’t want to go through the process of preparing their home for sale. If someone will give them a “good enough” price, they are content. 

However, if getting the most for your home is important to you, you will want full market exposure. 

Even now, as we are seeing a slight improvement in inventory, multiple offers are still common, as are offers over the asking price. A beautiful home, staged well and promoted through the vast internet of real estate marketing will catch many eyes and will often inspire multiple offers.  

Full market exposure launched properly with professional photos and staging [side note: I cannot emphasize staging enough if you want to capture extra value. You can even ask your agent if they will cover the cost!] can secure +17% or more for your home. 

If getting the most for your home is your goal, selling with full market exposure is definitely the more lucrative way to go! If you are interested in reading more about BrightMLS’s study, click here and contact me if you would like to discuss the findings.

Rebecca McCullough is a licensed real estate agent in Virginia with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreMcEnearney

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