How Realtors Can Find Homes Before They’re Listed

How Realtors Can Find Homes Before They’re Listed
Whether you are a fresh real estate agent who is just getting their feet wet in the industry or has been at it for years, you know that ‘pocket listings’ can be pure gold for your business. Oftentimes, and especially in places as remote as Hawaii, these pocket listings are for high-profile properties owned by luminaries who wish to protect their privacy. Those, however, aren’t the only homes available, as desirable as they may be, and finding a home before they’re listed can help you create an edge in your industry and pair a client with the perfect residence. 
You’re probably aware of the other benefits pocket listings can offer. What’s less clear, though, is how to score them. Read on for Kahala, Northshore and Kailua real estate agent Elise Lee’s top tips on locating properties long before they hit Multiple Listing Service.

Become a pillar in your community

If you’re a realtor in Hawaii, you’re well aware that Kama’aina relies on the coconut wireless as much as the internet (if not more so!)  By establishing yourself as a trustworthy and important part of your community, you will naturally become part of the island conversation–the person who learns about upcoming separations and the home that will be sold in the process, or the friend someone confesses to when they’ve accepted a job on the mainland.
If you’re a realtor elsewhere in the world, this is equally important. Give and engage with your community in multiple ways, including volunteering at food distributions, soup kitchens, shopping local, attending community events, joining local boards, and becoming a presence at classes and venues that are filled with your ideal clients. It goes without saying that you ought to honor what is revealed to you with the utmost respect and Aloha.

Create bonds with other realtors

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Real estate agents depend on each other for plenty–for counsel, for commiseration, for guidance in difficult moments, and for recommendations. This is one of many industries where it’s key to collaborate and work on developing unbreakable friendships with other realtors in your area. Once you do–and have established yourself as committed and full of integrity in your real estate transactions and within the community at large–veteran and/or ultra-busy colleagues will reach out to you about properties they don’t have the time and bandwidth to handle, including homes that have yet to reach the market. Prioritize these friendships, and pay it forward the more successful you become in your field.

Call upon your connections in the building industry

General contractors, foremen, builders, painters, roofers, plumbers, electricians, cabinet makers, handymen, and property managers–all are absolute goldmines regarding learning info about new developments and properties that will be going up for sale. Consider your relationships with these workers an imperative part of your career, and nurture them accordingly. Also, inquire away. If they know you are a consummate, honorable real estate agent, and always lead with Aloha, they will be happy to share key pieces of information with you.

Establish friendships with other professionals associated with the real estate agency

Brokers, lenders, house cleaners, real estate attorneys, and inspectors are also terrific resources. When the time is appropriate, let it be known that you are on the hunt for off-market listings.

Approach homeowners with care

Moving sales are a blatant indicator that a resident is relocating, but they might not have gotten to the point of enlisting the help of a real estate agent (or even come up with the first word for their home’s MLS description). If it is, again, appropriate, approach them to let them know about your services. This can also be done with foreclosures. Handled with care and compassion, the homeowner may work with you to ensure they walk away from their residence with at least some of the money from the ultimate transaction.

Attend networking events

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Networking is also vital to a long and successful career in real estate–and to acquiring those coveted pocket listings. Networking events will put you in contact with other professionals and a potentially long list of homeowners who may one day want to list their homes. Become the go-to real estate they will hire when they are ready to do so by carving out, and maintaining, an impeccable reputation.

Specialize in the Luxury Market

Specializing in the luxury home market will put you into close contact with homeowners who have deep pockets–and friends and acquaintances of theirs with whom they share their recommendations. As we mentioned above, high-profile properties are often kept under wraps to dissuade looky-loos and town gossip. Being known for your respect for other people’s privacy can go a long and tremendous way when it comes to being the first real estate who is told that Mr. and Mrs. Lee  are selling their manse in Kahala.  Fine-tune your marketing and promotion materials and showcase your unique talents and passion.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
It is virtually impossible to obtain a pocket listing if homeowners aren’t aware of your presence and portfolio. Focus on refining and revitalizing your website, and leverage social media to your advantage.

Search For Sale By Owner listings

Some homeowners may skirt MLS entirely and attempt to sell their home on their own–only to hit a wall and watch their home sit on the market for what may seem to them like an eternity (all with the intention of placing their home with a viable buyer without paying a commission). Visit sites such as and and use a gentle touch when reaching out to them.  Remember to have Aloha.

Utilize private listing services

Private listing services will allow you to access homes that are not listed for the public. Examining the homes on these services allows you to find pocket listings, create your pitch, and approach the homeowners.
Above all, work diligently to sell the listings you do have–and on delighting the clients on your docket. Word-of-mouth recommendations remain critical in our modern world, inside and outside of the real estate market.
This is precisely what Elise Lee strives for daily. She specializes in Kahala, Northshore and  Kailua homes for sale, Kailua condos for sale, and the best neighborhoods in Oahu, and persistently endeavors to make an impression–with her clients, her colleagues, and, perhaps most importantly of all, her community. Book a consultation with her today to check out the listings she has in her back pocket.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Work With Elise

Elise brings a fresh, creative international perspective to her Luxury Real Estate, Concierge & Interior Design career. She chairs the Honolulu Board of Realtors® City Affairs Committee, is on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Economic Association, an Officer in the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Hawaii Bailliage.