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27 Wooster Street, #PH (Compass) 27 Wooster Street, #PH (Compass)
If you’re on the market for a new home, you’ve likely already heard about whisper listings or pocket listings. But whatever you call them, you won’t find these listings on the MLS (multi listing service) or any of the popular real estate listing sites like ours that aggregate data from the MLS because that's the point—they are listings that are never publicly shared.

In a hot real estate market, gaining access to a whisper listing directly from an agent can be a great way to make a bid on a property without entering an aggressive bidding war. While this may sound desirable, whisper listings are also controversial. In fact, industry insiders are divided on the value they hold for consumers and agents alike.

The History of Whisper Listings

Whisper listings have always existed, but recently, there has been an effort to crack down on these listings. In 2019, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) introduced the Clear Cooperation policy. The policy states that all listing brokers who participate in the MLS must submit their listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public. In essence, the policy is designed to restrict whisper listings and, by extension, increase the surplus of available homes on the market. However, with or without the Clear Cooperation policy, whisper listings continue to impact the real estate market in New York City and nationwide.

The Pros and Cons of Whisper Listings for Consumers

Whether whisper listings are desirable depends on who you are and what you have to gain or lose from a listing never being widely publicized.
The consumers who have the most to gain from whisper listings are generally those buying and selling luxury properties. First, compared to the average consumers, few people searching for luxury properties begin their search by casually surfing the MLS or a listing site that relies on MLS data. Second, while open houses that attract many potential buyers are essential when selling most residential properties, open houses are uncommon in the luxury market. Finally, many luxury properties are sold and purchased by celebrities who typically prefer to close deals out of the spotlight.

Beyond the luxury market, however, buyers and sellers can benefit from whisper listings under some circumstances. On the buyer side, a whisper listing can be a great way to avoid ending up in a stressful or futile bidding war. On the seller side, a whisper listing can save one the time and hassle of preparing one's home to go on the market, staging it, and opening it up to the public for multiple open houses.

While whisper listings certainly can and often do serve consumers, it is important to recognize that may also limit consumer choice. Since the late 1990s, buyers have had unprecedented access to listing data, empowering them to do considerable research without the aid of an agent. Whisper listings reduce the average consumers’ access to listing data and ultimately make them more dependent on agents again. Likewise, on the seller side, whisper listings limit the number of potential buyers who ever hear about one’s available property, which can result in a lower closing price.

The Pros and Cons of Whisper Listings for Agents

Whisper listings are generally embraced by agents and brokers and for an obvious reason. When a home sells, the commission is split between the listing agent and buyer agent. If a home never goes on the market, the listing agent generally represents both sides of the transaction and receives the full commission. For example, consider the following situation. An agent is working with a couple who want to buy a three-bedroom property in a specific zip code for just over $1 million, but this zip code currently has few properties for sale. The agent approaches a homeowner in the zip code who has a home that matches the couple’s specifications and lets the homeowner know how much the couple is willing to pay. If the homeowner agrees, the agent typically works with the seller and buyer and benefits from the full commission when the home sells.

While the above scenario may suggest that whisper listings are great news for agents, not all agents agree. At large brokerages, which list thousands of properties each year, whisper listings are generally welcome because agents don't always need to look outside their brokerage to find relevant listings to share with potential clients. At smaller brokerages, this is rarely the case. So, if larger brokerages such as Compass or Keller Williams aren’t required to share their listing data publicly, agents working for smaller and independent brokerages may end up with fewer listings to share with clients, which will ultimately affect their ability to close deals. This explains why NAR's Clear Cooperation policy is simultaneously loved and loathed by real estate professionals nationwide.

Less Competition and Reduced Stress

Whether you agree or disagree with whisper listings, one thing is certain—in a hot market where the housing surplus is low and bidding wars are common, whisper listings can be one way for buyers to get their foot in the door. Likewise, for existing property owners who want to avoid the time, cost, and stress of staging their home and opening it up to the public, whisper listings can be a less stressful way to sell.
To get access to available whisper listings, sign up here to view off-market properties within our network of over 200 specialized agents. To continue your search for homes in the public domain, start your search here. Find below a list of the most viewed listings on our website over the last 30 days, quite the opposite of hush-hush.

Most Popular Listings on CityRealty Right Now

170-Second-Avenue 170 Second Avenue, #1A (Brown Harris Stevens)
From the Listing: Private entry and motivated seller! 1A is a 3.5-room apartment with an alcove area in addition to a living room, bedroom, and a separate windowed kitchen. It has hardwood floors, 9'2'' inch ceilings in all but the kitchen, a deep soaking bathtub in the windowed bathroom, and a private entry from East 11th Street that is shared only with 1C. Bring your architect or contractor, design your custom modifications, and make 1A your perfect pied-a-terre or home office. See floor plan and full details here.

1-Central-Park-South-01 The Plaza, #1801 (Compass)
The Plaza views
From the Listing: Corner Residence 1801 feels palatial in all ways, from the finely detailed molding to the expansive size, spanning over 4,000 square feet all in pristine condition. Exceptionally designed, this residence offers 4-bedrooms with extensive closet space, 3.5 bathrooms, an oversized living room and a formal dining area with a custom stained glass ceiling chandelier. The private primary suite has a walk-in closet, two additional closets for storage, and a spa-like en suite bath with a soaking tub and separate shower. See floor plan and full details here.

71-Washington-Place-01 71 Washington Place, #PH (KYNYC Tribeca)
From the Listing: Impeccably finished, this newly renovated home has everything you could ask for. Inside, a huge walk-in closet is tucked away beneath the elegant curved staircase leading to the breathtaking private roof deck. The sophisticated sofa opens into a full-size Murphy bed, allowing for ultimate flexibility. The living space is well-appointed with plenty of lighting, thoughtfully placed outlets, and a cozy dining nook for enjoying your morning beverage. The spacious entry area converts to a dressing room, complete with built in closets and an in-unit washer and dryer for maximum convenience. A curved, custom staircase leads to a landscaped private roof, with spectacular New York City views, from Washington Square Park to the Empire State building and beyond. Can be purchased together with unit #5A to create a one-bedroom duplex. See floor plan and full details here.

55-West-17th-Street-01 55 West 17th Street, #PH (Compass)
From the Listing: No expense was spared in this multi-year renovation of this impossible-to-replicate triplex penthouse. The New York firm DHD Architecture and Interior Design - with principals David Howell and Steffani Aarons - designed this trophy apartment that occupies the entire 18th and 19th floors of the building along with most of the 17th floor, all connected via a striking spiral stairway, its solid sides coated in the same Venetian Plaster that covers the apartment walls. The elevator doors open on the middle level to reveal an expansive living and dining space with an adjacent kitchen with barrel-vaulted ceilings over the living and dining areas. Immediately you are struck by the breathtaking southern light and humanly scaled views all the way down to the Freedom Tower and beyond. This penthouse boasts the ultimate crown: an expansive roof terrace with a full-sized swimming pool and hot tub all engulfed with panoramic views in all directions of Lower Manhattan. See floor plan and full details here.

176-Perry-Street-01 176 Perry Street, #10S (Corcoran)
West Village triplex
176 Perry Street
From the Listing: This spectacular triplex apartment comprises the 8th, 9th and 10th Floors and over 11,000 square feet of living space. The residence's striking minimalist design makes it one of the most dramatic apartments in Manhattan. The 8th floor features a huge recreation room with terrace overlooking the Hudson, 4 bedrooms with en suite baths and a library/guest bedroom with half bath. The 9th floor features a dramatic 51' x 26' double height great room with walls of windows overlooking the Hudson River. This floor also has a home office area, ethanol fireplace, professional gourmet kitchen and dining room/gallery. The entire 10th floor consists of the primary bedroom suite, a studio/exercise area, luxurious spa bath, sauna and dressing areas. See floor plan and full details here.

344-East-58th-Street 344 East 58th Street, #1B (Douglas Elliman)
From the Listing: Just one flight up to this second-floor unit! This charming apartment features prewar details--- high ceilings, hardwood floors, custom built-ins and decorative fireplace. Peaceful with Southern exposure into a quiet courtyard. An updated kitchen has a retro red sink with stainless steel appliances. The bathroom recently underwent a full renovation with new plumbing. The living room is spacious and easily accommodates a large dining table. There are custom built-ins and shelving flanking the decorative fireplace which serves as the focal point of the room. See floor plan and full details here.

353-West-56th-Street-01 The Parc Vendome, #10E (Weichert Properties)
From the Listing: This large, elegant one-bedroom condo features a working fireplace, private terrace, four large walk-in closets, eat in kitchen and washer/dryer. 10E faces north overlooking the Parc Vendome's meticulously kept 'English Tea Garden' (with Wi-Fi). With high ceilings and beautiful hardwood floors this perfectly proportioned apartment is the height of luxurious living. Building amenities include a 24-hour doorman, private garden, rooftop deck, billiard room, music room, club room, library, private dining room, and a banquet room, both with access to a catering kitchen. Maintenance includes electric, gas, heat, and hot water; cable is already in place with special pricing for the building. See floor plan and full details here.

303-East-57th-Street-01 The Excelsior, #7G (Douglas Elliman)
From the Listing: From room to room, the magnificent renovations of 7G is a sight to behold. Boasting two full baths, in-unit washer/dryer, storage and closets galore, a kitchen with a window, an open floorplan and a second bedroom with sliding doors, this apartment awaits its new owners with architectural taste and style. From the finest of plumbing fixtures to crown moldings, to beautifully finished floors and high end appliances - with every detail accentuated. Apartment 7G enjoys a lovely terrace and has three exposures. See floor plan and full details here.

420-East-51st-Street-01 420 Beekman Hill, #5D (Compass)
From the Listing: This apartment features bright southern exposures with serene views overlooking historic Beekman townhomes. The expansive living room features brand new hardwood floors, crown molding and a separate dining area. The windowed kitchen has an abundance of storage, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. The primary bedroom also features oversized closets as well as an en-suite bath. Cable and Wi-Fi are included in the maintenance. See floor plan and full details here.

649-Second-Avenue-01 649 Second Avenue, #2B (Quinton)
From the Listing: Enter this elevator building that is nicely maintained with an inviting lobby that leads to a shared building outdoor space and grill. This second-floor charming and quiet one-bedroom apartment offers coziness, quiet and privacy with a west-facing that opens up to views of trees and the Empire State building from the living room. The apartment boasts a dining/living space with a windowed kitchen that opens to the living room, hardwood floors and good closet/storage. See floor plan and full details here.

111-West-57th-Street 111 West 57th Street, #69 (Corcoran)
From the Listing: Direct elevator entry leads into a sprawling full-floor, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom residence that encompasses 3,873 square feet of space on the 69th floor of 111 West 57th Street. Breathtaking by design, views to the north feature postcard vistas of Central Park and beyond, and to the south, river and city views of Manhattan's iconic skyline. Dramatic double doors lead into the expansive 50-foot great room highlighted by ceiling heights up to 14 feet, intricately patterned floors in custom smoke-gray solid oak, and floor-to-ceiling windows through which to enjoy the views. See floor plan and full details here.

157-West-57th-Street-01 One57, #PH88 (Serhant)
From the Listing: Welcome to this full floor Billionaires' Row home, located on the 88th floor at the prestigious One57 luxury tower. This one-of-a-kind condo is in perfect condition and spans 6,231 square feet with designer finishes throughout. A private elevator landing ushers residents into a grand foyer with storage and a windowed full bathroom. From there, the home flows into a palatial 57-foot great room with custom tray ceilings, elegant chandeliers, and prime views of the entirety of Central Park. Through sleek pocket doors is an open-concept family room and kitchen adorned with custom built-ins, an eat-in island, sleek black stone countertops, a high-capacity Sub-Zero wine cooler, and integrated high-end Miele appliances. A central gallery has access to the home's five bedrooms. See floor plan and full details here.

200-West-86th-Street-01 The St. Germaine, #17I (Douglas Elliman)
From the Listing: Located in the heart of the Upper West Side, this is a great opportunity to own in an Art Deco pre-war building. Upon entering, you'll find a dining foyer, which leads to a spacious and large dropped living room with two stairs, five closets and wide open views from a high floor. The oversized living room could easily accommodate a dining area as well. Beautiful hard wood floors run throughout. The extra-large primary bedroom has a windowed full bathroom. The bright windowed kitchen has been renovated and could hold a cafe table with two chairs. Estate sale - motivated seller. See floor plan and full details here.

150-East-61st-Street-01 150 East 61st Street, #3B (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices)
From the Listing: Alcove studio/junior one-bedroom co-op available for purchase on the Upper East Side. The unit features a spacious floorplan with hardwood floors and southeastern exposure. Available for the first time in many decades, it's in need of some modern updating. The building features amenities such as a 24-hour doorman, service staff, residents lounge, fitness center, bike room, storage room, laundry room, and public parking garage. See floor plan and full details here.

27-Wooster-Street-01 27 Wooster Street, #PH (Compass)
Soho penthouse
From the Listing: Virtually impossible to replicate, this collector-grade pristine duplex home is nestled in a discrete section of Soho, one of Downtown Manhattan's most desired neighborhoods and it is engulfed in dramatic, humanly-scaled views with mesmerizing light all day, all year round. Perched atop this architectural landmark built in 2015 and designed by Jonathan Caplan/Project Space, this expansive 6,700-square-foot duplex penthouse boasts open, protected views north, south, east, and west via approximately 500 linear feet of floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that lead onto remarkable wraparound terraces exquisitely landscaped by legendary designer Piet Oudolf....that lead to the ultimate amenity: a private, full-sized 30-foot swimming pool that floats above historically landmarked Soho. See floor plan and full details here.

1-West-72nd-Street-01 The Dakota, #82/83/84 (Bespoke Real Estate)
Central Park West
The Dakota 1 Central Park West
From the Listing: Recognized as the most iconic residential addresses in the world, the Dakota has an eternal spot in cultural history. With 180 feet of Central Park frontage, this carefully architected home is the reflection of exclusive class and exquisite taste. A proper, handsome vestibule greets you upon entry, granting access to the separate formal dining room and an impressive corner living room, both with wood-burning fireplaces and soaring 11-foot ceilings. An elegant library and an enormous eat-in kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances and luxurious finishes round out the inviting, lush entertaining spaces. Capping off this one-of-a-kind, sprawling abode is a separate studio apartment for staff as well as ample basement storage space. See floor plan and full details here.

1-West-72nd-Street-01 The Dakota, #47 (Coldwell Banker Warburg)
Central Park West co-ops
The Dakota 1 West 72nd Street
From the Listing: A rare opportunity to own a masterpiece in the Dakota, the Upper West Side’s most iconic luxury building. This 3,800-square-foot home has been meticulously restored to showcase its historic character and detail while, at the same time, a mint renovation provided all modern updates and conveniences. The apartment is entered through an elegant and intimate foyer which leads to the grand entertaining spaces: a large formal living room with treetop views of 72nd Street and a library with a custom built-in bar. These formal spaces include two original mahogany-paneled wood-burning fireplaces, inlaid wood floors, original hardware, and solid mahogany pocket doors. Meticulous hand stenciling provides subtle texture on the walls and ceilings throughout. See floor plan and full details here.

432-Park-Avenue-01 432 Park Avenue, #79 (Engel & Volkers)
432 Park Avenue
From the Listing: Among the clouds, at one thousand feet, is the Floating Inner Garden, a one-of-a-kind Hiroshi Sugimoto-designed masterpiece. This serene full-floor residence offers 8,055 square feet of living space, five bedrooms, five bathrooms, two powder rooms, unobstructed helicopter views in all directions, soaring ceilings, two private elevator landings, custom-built mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and a hand selection of the finest natural materials and finishes. Included in this offering are all custom-made furniture designed for The Floating Inner Garden by Hiroshi Sugimoto, site-specific permanent installation works of art by Hiroshi Sugimoto, two adjacent studio apartments, and two storage units. See floor plan and full details here.

111-West-57th-Street-01 111 West 57th Street, #PH72 (Corcoran)
111 West 57th Street Billionaires Row
From the Listing: Triplex Penthouse 72 is a four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bathroom residence featuring 7,130 square feet of interior space on two floors, and a 1,367-square-foot loggia, making this a triplex of monumental proportion and unparalleled 360-degree views. The residence is designed around a dramatic, central entrance gallery with white macauba stone floors and a gracefully proportioned oval staircase connecting the upper and lower interior levels. The richly detailed finishes are conceived throughout by Studio Sofield and demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to craftsmanship and quality. The Great Hall is an entertainer's dream facing Central Park with floor-to-ceiling windows, 14' ceilings and a discreet wet bar. See floor plan and full details here.

217-West-57th-Street-01 Central Park Tower, #114 (Douglas Elliman)
Central Park Tower Billionaires Row
Central Park Tower West 57th Street
From the Listing: This expansive north, south, east, and west-facing five-bedroom, five-and-one-half-bathroom residence boasts limitless views of Central Park, the Manhattan skyline, Hudson and East Rivers, and beyond from an elevation of nearly 1,300 feet. Over 11-foot-tall floor-to-ceiling windows provide for an abundance of light throughout. A private foyer leads to a formal reception gallery, providing the perfect entry to the gracious Grand Salon featuring triple exposures. An oversized, gourmet eat-in-kitchen boasts corner views through floor-to-ceiling windows, custom cabinetry by Smallbone of Devizes, and premium Miele appliances. The primary suite encompasses the entire western wing of this residence and features a formal sitting room, oversized bathroom with dual features. See floor plan and full details here.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.