How I got access to a property not on the MLS

A bunch of readers have asked variations of the same question about the Highland Park fourplexes I sent out two weeks ago:

How is it that you can know a property is for sale without it being publicly available on the MLS? 

As anyone who follows real estate knows, almost all deals end up on the MLS (the system that brokers use to share information about which properties are for sale), because that’s the best way to ensure the widest possible exposure for the sale listing.

That said, every once in a while, you run across an opportunity to buy something that isn’t on the MLS. One way this happens is that a seller tells a potential listing broker that he would sell at a certain price.

If the broker can find someone to pay the price the seller asks, then a deal might happen without the property ever reaching the MLS. While it might be argued that the seller would have done better to put the property on the MLS, sellers sometimes have their own reasons for wanting to keep sales private (for example, to avoid alerting friends or relatives that they are flush with cash).

As a broker and investor, it’s my job to ensure that I stay in constant touch with other brokers about opportunities, market trends, buyers, sellers, etc. Occasionally, if you keep your ear to the ground, you’ll come across these kinds of special opportunities. In fact, my favorite of the apartment deals I’ve done over the past few years never came on the market at all (but that’s a story for another day).