Why a quiet marketing period makes sense

When it comes down to it, most brokers who sell residential properties don’t know a lot about marketing income property. (One easy way you can tell is that most of them don’t include information that is absolutely critical to an income property investor – like the rents! – in their MLS listings.)

But why does it matter if a broker doesn’t know a lot about income properties? After all, don’t all brokers just post a listing on the MLS and wait for offers to roll in? After all, isn’t marketing a property as widely as possible the best thing you can do to maximize price?

I don’t believe so, and here’s why:

  • As a buyer, when you offer on a property on the MLS and have your offer accepted, you know you’re the winning bidder in an auction;
  • This means, by definition, that your bid was higher than everyone else’s;
  • This means that, once you’re in escrow, you might be able to chip the price (by raising all kinds of issues about the physical condition of the property, etc.), because there’s probably some room between your (highest) bid and the next one down.

So, if you’re listing your property on the MLS, you are almost definitely going to see the buyer try to chip you in escrow. Contrast this with an offer that comes through a “quiet”, off-market marketing period.

With a “quiet” marketing period, the listing broker puts out the word that the property may be available if a buyer is willing to pay the full price. He puts it out to his own buyer list and also to select agents he knows have serious buyers ready to make a deal.

Assuming the broker does his job well, several strong offers should come in. Then, the broker can run a quick “best and final” counter process to clean up the contract terms and maximize price before finally accepting an offer and opening escrow.

Consider the situation this buyer is in: He has a deal that has not been widely exposed. If he tries to chip price, he knows the seller can always cancel and take the property to market, where someone else will certainly buy it. Because the threat of cancelation is credible, he’s much, much less likely to try to chip price. Mission accomplished.

And, the best part is, if, for whatever reason, an acceptable offer does not emerge during the “quiet” marketing period, the seller can always just go ahead and put the property on the MLS, anyway.

So, if the above is clearly the best strategy for marketing properties, why don’t all brokers do it? The ones who don’t just don’t have sufficient contacts among the relevant market participants (buyers and brokers) to effectively get the word out. And those are the brokers you don’t want selling your property in the first place.