Nashville housing market sees drop in whisper listings as inventory continues to be a challenge

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In life, they say it’s all about who you know. It’s no different when it comes to real estate.

As buyers struggle to find inventory across the nation, whisper listings or pocket listings are becoming more of a problem.

“It’s age old, not just in real estate but all business,” said Jeff Checko, a realtor with The Ashton Team of RE/MAX Advantage. “We all want to do the right thing, but this is something that’s been a part of the real estate industry.”

A whisper listing is when a residential property is released directly to a broker who only allows specific clients to view the home. The homes that fall under this practice are quietly for sale but aren’t publicly listed or advertised. Basically, you have to know the right person if you want to buy.

Here locally, it’s a trend that’s actually slowing down.

By nature, whisper listings are not easy to track. Yet, Redfin is defining a whisper listing as homes that were listed in the MLS and marked as sold or pending on the same day. This would indicate the agent already had a buyer at the time the home was put in the MLS and other buyers wouldn’t have had an opportunity to make an offer.

Nationwide, the number of homes sold without being marketed to the public has increased 67%, from 2.4% to 4.0%, and may still get worse; the rate has risen every month in 2021, however, here in Nashville Redfin identified just 0.1% of listings that weren’t marketed to the public.

“Sometimes money isn’t the primary thing,” Checko said. “Sometimes discretion is important to people sometimes timing is most important, sometimes during a challenging time for a family maybe it relates to a divorce or a health crisis.”

Erika Kurre with Benchmark Realty says if a whisper listing does take place, it’s most likely going to happen with a lower price-point home in a rural area.

However, pocket listings have recently come under fire, as the National Association of Realtors is discouraging the practice as it can lead to illegal discrimination.

This study shows the excluded buyers are disproportionately people of color. 

“I get it when buyer agents are so desperate for inventory and opportunity for their client they may be willing to toe the line in terms of getting the asset for their folks,” Checko said, adding not only does it violate NAR policies, but the practice also only makes a bad situation worse for buyers in Greater Nashville already struggling to find a home.

Thankfully, in Nashville, it looks like the trend is losing steam.

“In recent weeks and since May we’ve seen sellers are realizing they can get so much more value out of their home if they take it to the open market, so it’s hard right now to find a market off market because most sellers know they’re not going to make near as much money doing that,” Kurre said.

Kurre says a home in Williamson County, more specifically in Brentwood. could list at $700,000 to $800,000 and easily sell on market for over a million.

It’s why Checko says most of the time, putting it on market is a smarter move.

“I think due to the current conditions where it’s so advantageous for a seller to have that time where the whole market can come calling for their property and see it go above asking price I don’t think its [whisper listings] a problem just now but I think as things settle into a normal cadence you’re going to see people to try to do transactions this way,” Checko said.

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