Off-Market High-Rise Condos: How to Find Hidden Gems

Sean Mamola  |  November 30, 2023

Off-Market High-Rise Condos: How to Find Hidden Gems
Almost everyone who can afford to wants to get into the real estate market, and for this reason, the market can get very competitive. One of the best ways for buyers and investors to gain an edge in this competitive market is to find off-market properties. Of these, some of the most lucrative and desirable are off-market high-rise condos. Off-market condos offer exclusive opportunities to get into luxury real estate in areas where competition is strong. Check out the following tips to get started in your search for these off-market real estate gems.

How off-market listings work

Off-market listings are those properties that are for sale but are not entered into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system for widespread distribution to real estate agents and their clients. Such an off-market listing is often referred to as a “pocket listing” in the real estate industry. Under most circumstances, homeowners who sell through a realtor will have their listings distributed through the MLS. This allows for a vast network of realtors to view the listing, share it with their clients, and get it sold efficiently. Because this is typically the fastest and easiest way to sell a home in the twenty-first century, most home sellers go through this process.
When, for one reason or another, a home seller does not wish to go through the usual widely distributed channels for selling their home, the listing stays off of the market. This means that a realtor must be resourceful in finding the listing.
Often, a single agent will handle the entire transaction with an off-market listing. Agents can distribute off-market listings through their network and to their clients. Instead of having a separate buyer’s agent and seller’s agent, a single agent acts as a go-between for the transaction.

Why some sellers opt for off-market listings

There could be a variety of reasons why a home seller may wish to keep a home sale off of the market. One obvious reason would be privacy. If you search for almost any address you can think of, you’ll find one or more online listings for this home, even if it’s not on the market. This is usually because the property was at one point listed through the MLS, and so you can find pictures and a wide variety of information about the property online.
Most people don’t worry too much about privacy when selling a home, as their objective is to let people know that the home is for sale. Plus, many home sellers have already moved out by the time their home is listed, so they have no aversion to the public having this address or pictures of the inside of their home. Certain individuals, especially celebrities and other high-profile public figures, on the other hand, may have an aversion to this.
Sometimes, home sellers will also choose to keep their homes off-market because there is already a tentative buyer lined up. In other cases, the seller may want the opportunity to entertain an offer without the commitment of officially listing the home. The seller also does not have to deal with anxiety over the home taking a long time to sell. Since buyers will not be able to tell how long the home has been on the market, they have no basis for making a lowball offer. Regardless of why a seller chooses to go off-market, the fact is that off-market listings are out there for those who are curious enough to seek them out.

Advantages of buying off-market homes

The main advantage of buying off-market properties is the opportunity to place a bid on a home in the absence of normal competition. Just because a listing is off-market does not mean that there will be no competition, but it does mean that buyers around the country — and the world — will not be able to view the property at the click of a button. That’s a great advantage for home buyers in the San Francisco area, due to the highly competitive nature of this sought-after real estate market. If you take a look at the inventory of active listings in the area over time, you will notice the wide inventory fluctuations to which the market is subject.
In some cases, there may also be a lower agent commission or other perks for purchasing a property off the market. This is especially true when there is only one agent in the transaction. Regardless, the main perk of off-market listings is that they allow home buyers to have access to more inventory than they otherwise would.

Off-market high-rise condos

Any property could potentially be sold in an off-market sale. In the Bay Area, and especially in San Francisco, high-rise condominium units are some of the most sought-after off-market properties. High-end off-market condos deliver luxury and value if only a buyer has the resources to find them. Your best bet is to find an agent who works with this type of real estate and has access to off-market listings. Just because an agent sells condos doesn’t mean that an agent has access to off-market condos; it’s all about the agent’s network and connections.

How regulations affect off-market dynamics

In San Francisco, as in many other real estate markets, the San Francisco Association of Realtors’ Clear Cooperation policy specifies that properties may be excluded from the MLS only under certain circumstances, and only so long as the property is not advertised to the public.
Sellers have the right to keep their property off the MLS if they don't want their listing to be publicly available. A property owner may also delay listing on the MLS for strategic reasons, such as waiting for renovations or improvements to be completed, staging, or seasonal considerations. Developers of new construction projects may choose not to list all units simultaneously on the MLS to manage inventory and sales. They may release units in phases to control supply and demand.
If a property is marketed publicly in any way (e.g., via a yard sign, open house, or online promotion), it must be promptly submitted to the MLS within one business day. That means that most properties are only off-market temporarily, and will end up going on the market if they can’t find an off-market buyer.

Find your next hidden real estate gem

If you’re looking for off-market condos, getting the right professional guidance and representation can help you to realize your goals. Buy with an agent who has experience in off-market sales to find and lock down the right property for you, even if it’s not listed through the usual channels. Local realtor Sean Mamola specializes in luxury high-rise properties throughout San Francisco. Sean focuses on properties in highly desirable locales such as South Beach, Mission Bay, and Pacific Heights, among others. Buy or sell luxury property in the Bay Area with a local expert by contacting Sean Mamola and his team at

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