Sometimes a buyer will know the market intimately.

They know what they want, what they can compromise on and how much they are willing to pay. They don’t like the drama of auctions, the busy inspections and the ambiguous price-guides. What they are looking for is a vendor keen for privacy, direct about price and quick to move. When these needs align it can result in the elusive off-market sale, where vendors can reduce the hassle and buyers can save on time.

What is an off-market sale?

An off-market sale is typically one that is hush-hush. It occurs without any advertising and is usually either carefully orchestrated by a real estate agent, or takes place between two parties who are family or know each other well.

This type of exchange occurs in various scenarios. Sometimes there is a divorce and a couple needs to sort their finances out quickly. Other times, the buyer is looking for something rare and specific – like a Potts Point studio with views and parking, while the vendor is happy to stay rooted unless they get offered the right sum of money.

In other situations a seller likes privacy and doesn’t want to deal with a flood of people storming through their house twice a week, or they may have a nosy neighbour who could lower the value of their property simply by showing up at inspections.

Other types of sales

An off-market sale is not to be confused with a pre-market sale where real-estate agents give regular clients a glimpse of the property before it’s officially advertised. These kinds of sales still draw in the crowds, and vendors still have time to test it on the market.

Then there are the private treaty sales, where agents typically set a price and wait for sellers to make their offers.

And everyone is familiar with auctions, which are ubiquitous in inner-city hotspots like Potts Point. These usually benefit the seller, who is relying on the tension of the room overriding the potential buyer’s sense of financial restraint.

Is off-market right for me?

For the majority of vendors staying on the market makes the most sense. This is because it’s the only way to guarantee that you are getting the maximum exposure and the maximum price.

However, off-market sales are increasing, especially around prestige-market areas. In Potts Point, where buyers often know exactly which building they want to live in – like Manar or Ikon – these exchanges make up around 25% of our annual sales. Real-estate agents will often approach unit occupiers to find out if there is a price point where they are willing to sell and go from there.

Off-market sales are for people who value discretion but still want a good price; they might be for high profile vendors or for people who don’t want friends and acquaintances to find out how much their assets are worth.

How to get in on the action?

The best thing to do is make friends with your real estate agent. Explain – in detail – what you want: whether it’s a renovated art deco with period features or a high-security high-rise with views. If you know the building that you have your heart set on, tell your agent. They may be able to see if landlords are willing to sell, or if owners are willing to move on.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…