What Does Off Market Mean on Zillow?

Posted on Apr 04, 2022


You’ve found the perfect home on Zillow, but it’s listed as “off market.” What does that mean? Generally speaking, a home that is “off market” is not for sale. This means that the homeowner is not actively trying to sell their home - or if they are, they are not doing it through a public channel. 

Sometimes it can also refer to a home that will be for sale, but hasn’t been actively listed yet. It’s also worth noting that a seller might temporarily list their home as “off market” if they need to do repairs or will be out of town, because active MLS listings must be available for showings. 

There is an alternative meaning to off market - it can also describe a pocket listing, which is a home that is for sale but isn’t listed in the MLS. Although pocket listings aren’t illegal, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) banned them in 2019 because these sales are often inherently unethical.

For Sale By Owner, or FSBO homes can also be listed as “off market” homes even though they are actually for sale. 

Off Market Vs Pending

You might have seen a home listed as “pending” in Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. Sale pending (or “offer pending”) simply means that a buyer has submitted an offer and the seller has accepted it. In other words, this isn’t the sort of situation where you can simply opt to outbid all the other buyers – it’s already past that point.

You have a slightly better chance of snagging one of these homes, because about 4% of pending homes end up back on the market after an issue arises during the closing process.

While both off market and pending homes are not currently for sale, pending homes represent a very recent transaction, while off market homes represent all homes that are currently not for sale. 

Why Would a House Go From Pending to Off Market? 

There’s always a chance that a pending sale will fall through - there could be an issue with the buyer’s financing, or something might come up during the inspection. Once a home goes from pending to off market, though, it means the home has been successfully sold. 

Does Off Market Mean You Can’t Buy the Home?

In most cases, you can assume an off-market home can’t be bought. However, there are often potential home sellers who simply haven’t entered the market for various reasons. According to RocketHomes, approximately 27% of homeowners have thought about selling their home in the past year. So if you were to go in with a good enough offer, some homeowners could decide it’s the right time to move on.

Realistically, though, your odds are much better if you look for homes actually for sale - rather than off market homes. 

What if I Know a Home is for Sale and it's Listed as Off Market?

Property status inaccuracies do happen - sometimes due to site error, sometimes due to human error, and sometimes due to simply the time it takes for the MLS to communicate with sites like Zillow. 

As explained in the post Is Zillow Trustworthy?: "If you enter new information about your home into the MLS, it can take up to a full business day for it to go live online. Once it’s on the MLS, Zillow will then take that info and post it - which can be up to another full 24 hours. For this reason, in a hot market where homes sell quickly, posts can noticeably lag behind by several days."

Why Does My Zillow Listing Say Off Market? 

If your home is supposed to be “for sale” and now reads “off market,” a few different things could be happening.

If it’s been less than 48 hours, keep in mind that it can take a full two days for changes to the MLS to update sites like Zillow and Trulia.

If it's been several weeks: at some point, MLS listings also expire. This occurs when your contract with your listing agent expires. You may need to relist your home if this happens.

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