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Off-Market Sales – The New Niche Sector?

26.01.22

More than 135,000 homes were sold without ever appearing on a property portal or being publicly advertised in 2021, according to new data, while a quarter of £1m+ sales in London were off-market deals, reports Abode2 luxury property magazine.

Analysis by national estate agency Hamptons reveals that over 135,000 homes were sold without ever appearing on a property portal or being publicly advertised in 2021; the highest figure since records started in 2007, and some 60% more than in the previous two years. It accounts for around 9% of all 2021’s transactions. None of these properties appeared on Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket, or in branch windows, newspaper ads or social media.

The last year saw an even more striking increase in the proportion of deals done before properties were openly marketed. Industry research indicates that one in five sales last year was agreed “pre-marketing” – where an offer was accepted at least a day before the property was advertised on a portal. This figure only includes homes that did go on to be listed on a portal (i.e. proper off-market sales are excluded).

Essentially as stock levels have fallen, buyers increasingly look to get into homes before they’ve been formally marketed (i.e. photographs taken, floorplans drawn up etc) and agree a deal with the vendor before they’ve been more widely advertised. As stock levels fall, sellers look at an off-market strategy, in part to avoid being swamped by viewings but also to test pricing, particularly in London. Typically these are homes where the vendor doesn’t want details publicly available, typically for security, privacy or pricing concerns.

The recent LonRes survey of buying agents tells a similar story of this rise of the off-market deal. Over half the 70 buying agent respondents reported an increase in off-market deals over the past eighteen months.

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