- Whisper listings are a tactic the ultra-wealthy will sometimes use to sell their homes without making them available to the public, according to real-estate agent Aaron Kirman.
- California-based Aaron Kirman has worked in the real estate industry for 24 years and has sold over $4.5 billion worth of real estate.
- Kirman recently opened up to Business Insider about the three main reasons why wealthy sellers decide to keep their homes off the public market.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The ultra-wealthy are known for being exclusive, and the way they handle the purchases and sales of their multimillion-dollar homes is often no exception.
Now, that’s not to say the market hasn’t seen some very prominent, top-level listings. There’s the most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons, which is listed at $150 million, and, of course, Los Angeles’ Chartwell Estate, which was listed at $245 million and, before getting a major price cut, was the most expensive listing in the US.
But for those looking to keep the sales of their homes a little more under the radar, there are whisper listings.
Whisper listings, also known as pocket listings, are for-sale homes that aren’t available to the public. Off-market listings are popular among the ultra-wealthy and are bought and sold by word of mouth.
Kirman is a top real-estate agent at the real-estate company Compass. He’s been in the industry for 24 years and has sold over $4.5 billion worth of real estate since the start of his career. In 2019, REAL Trends named him the 10th-best real-estate agent in the country by sales volume.
Here’s a look at what compels wealthy homebuyers to keep their houses off the market and to instead opt for whisper listings.
1. Sellers can list their homes for higher prices through whisper listings.
By not putting a home on the market, the seller avoids value expectations, Kirman explained to Business Insider. With whisper listings, sellers have the advantage of pricing their homes above an area’s median listing price.
According to Kirman, sellers see this as an advantage because they are able to price their homes as high as they want regardless of the current state of the market.
“If you go live on the market, you have to publish a price. By not going live, you’ve never been public on a price so you don’t necessarily have to go down,” Kirman told Business Insider. “I’ve had sellers up the price of a whisper campaign because they have nothing to lose.”
2. Whisper listings can be used to keep a seller’s personal business out of the public eye.
Whisper listings can serve specific purposes, particularly when it comes to privacy.
For example, if a seller doesn’t want to put a home on the public market for political reasons, such as a divorce, they’ll use a whisper listing instead.
“Sometimes there’s political reasons as to why people don’t like them on the market whether it’s divorce, business reasons, or they just want to keep it quiet,” Kirman told Business Insider.
3. Whisper listings are exclusive and often viewed as a symbol of wealth.
Some sellers prefer to use whisper listings because they are more exclusive than public listings and, as such, are oftentimes seen as a symbol of wealth. However, Kirman told Business Insider that he doesn’t think using a whisper campaign, for the sake of exclusivity, is effective in today’s market.
And within that, there’s the potential downside of missing a prospective sale simply because the agent is not connected to the right person.
“The thing is, I don’t know everybody. So I always tell people there may be that one multimillionaire or billionaire that, because you’re not out there [on the public market], you missed – and they will go buy another house that was public,” Kirman told Business Insider.