What are “Off-Market” Commercial Real Estate Deals Today?

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What makes a deal “off-market” when the offering is being shared on LinkedIn or broadcasted (“marketed?”) on real estate search engines and web platforms designed for mass distribution?

Once, an off-market disposition strategy was generally employed for speed or discretion. A seller would show a deal to a select few known-closers to dispose quickly, “save” a small broker fee, or avoid alerting sensitive parties to a sale. The buyer would receive an exclusive (or semi-exclusive) look at a deal in exchange for confidentiality and speed.

Sometimes a buyer could negotiate an opportunistic price for their willingness to navigate unique situations, or a discount could be a result of a seller failing to price the property in the open market (offsetting any “saved” commissions).

Today “off-market” deals are broadcasted and promoted on social networks, real estate search engines, and mass marketing campaigns to unknown entities. Where the deal type was once Match.com – a way for qualified and compatible parties to privately connect – the off-market space has sometimes devolved into Ashley Madison – a forum for nebulous characters and activity.

When thousands of buyers can access the same deal, what makes it “off-market” and what other challenges and questions emerge?

  • How many other buyers are reviewing the opportunity, and how many have already walked away?
  • Is there a daisy-chain of brokers and platforms “representing” the deal and opening the door for fee disputes and market confusion?
  • Am I negotiating with a party that has any authority with the seller? Will a potential offer be received appropriately?
  • Is the provided deal information: based on reasonable assumptions, from the seller, and accurate?
  • Is the seller motivated, or did they simply tell an inquiring party: “I’m not in the market, but I would consider selling if I could get (insert unreasonable price)”?
  • Is the deal a repackaged version of someone else’s listing?

Real off-market circumstances still exist – and some great brokers have unique access to those opportunities. However, the term is often used as click-bait for a party to either engage with buyers when a lack of an exclusive listing won’t allow them or to give sizzle to an otherwise unappetizing deal.

Instead of looking for a needle in the large and sometimes deceptive haystack, use targeted search parameters to find the ideal property on Crexi’s online marketplace. Crexi is the best way for buyers to utilize technology to discover real commercial deal opportunities with the nation’s best brokers. Our aggregated marketplace has over 300,000 verified listings (and is exponentially growing). Speaking with the top listing brokers and demonstrating an understanding of the market and an ability to execute, remains the best way to get exposed to every deal in a market including the oft-elusive truly off-market opportunity.

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Eli Randel
Eli Randel

Chief Strategy Officer

Eli leads Strategy for Crexi after 15+ years of CRE and CRE finance experience. Previously, Eli was a Director of Capital Markets at Cohen Financial, launched Auction.com, and served as Director of Dispositions for Invitation Homes.

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