Wondering how to get a real estate listing removed from the internet? Whether you’re a seller who’s withdrawn your house from the market or a buyer who’s just closed on a new place, fielding inquiries from buyers who still see your house listed online is a drag when it’s no longer for sale.
So what can you do to unlist a house? And how long does it truly take? Allow us to shed light on how real estate listings go up and come down.
Who can remove a real estate listing?
For starters, how do real estate listings get up online for all to see, anyway? When a seller decides to list her home through a real estate agent, that agent gathers the necessary info and photos and loads them onto a vast, interconnected database called the multiple listing service, or MLS. From there, the listing is used to populate online platforms like realtor.com.
Only licensed agents and brokers who pay for a membership to the MLS have access to the full feed. As such, they’re the only people who can post real estate there—or remove those listings.
What this means for home buyers and sellers is you can’t just call up the MLS and ask the service to take a house off the site.
In addition, “home sellers are not allowed to make changes, because technically the info and photos become the property of the MLS in which it’s originally listed,” says Lynne Freda, a real estate agent with Freda Realty, in Callicoon, NY.
How to withdraw a real estate listing temporarily
Sellers withdraw their homes from the market all the time, says Beth Bernitt, an agent with Century 21 Real Estate in Bethel, NY.
Sometimes it’s because they’ve changed their mind and no longer want to sell their home. But just as often, something personal comes up that makes a seller decide to delay selling for a few weeks. For instance, you might decide to make some repairs or upgrades to fetch a higher price.
This is what agents call a “temporary off-market,” Bernitt says. If you’re thinking you want to pull your listing for a little while, just let your listing agent know.
“Unlisting it is just a click of a button,” Bernitt says. And if you want to relist, it’s just another button click.
However, once your house is unlisted on the MLS, it doesn’t mean it will be instantly reflected far and wide. Various websites may have lag times before this change takes effect. For some sites, it may take as little as 15 minutes (which is what happens at realtor.com), whereas other sites may take days or even weeks.
Withdrawn listing vs. expired listing: What’s the difference?
While a listing agent can deliberately withdraw a listing from the MLS, another way real estate listings disappear from websites is when they expire. That’s when your commitment to work with a certain agent ends and you go your separate ways (that is unless you renew your real estate contract).
When you sign a contract with an agent to sell your home, there’s an expiration date—typically in three to six months. Listing agents often enter the expiration date of their contract right in the database listing. After all, they pay MLS dues for that listing to go up online, so they don’t want it to stay unless they’re still working with you! So when that date passes, your listing should automatically disappear from the internet.
If you decide you no longer want to work with an agent before your contract is up, you can inform the agent, who will withdraw your listing before it expires.
House just sold? How to remove it from the MLS
Once you close on a home and you’ve walked off with a new set of keys in your palm, your home is off the market. But that doesn’t mean it’s off the internet! Listings (and all those gorgeous photos of your home) don’t get pulled offline until the listing is closed out by the listing agent, says Freda.
“Most MLS systems require seller’s agent to close outsold homes within 24 hours of the sale, or the agent will be fined,” she says.
But even then, lag times can still happen, Bernitt says, and it’s frustrating for buyers, sellers, and the agents themselves.
“It’s a lot of wasted time and energy for everyone,” she says. It can be particularly problematic if you’re a seller who’s temporarily withdrawn the home. Prospective buyers who spot the listing and call, only to learn the house is off the market, are likely to be turned off.
“When you put it back on the market, they won’t look at it because you’ve upset them,” she says.
Typically, an agent will realize the listing is still active pretty soon—especially if they’re getting calls or emails from interested buyers. But if they don’t, give them a call. They should be able to make some phone calls to get the photos pulled offline.
If you’re not getting any help from your listing agent, try the agent’s broker. That’s the person who owns the agency where the agent works, aka an agent’s boss. With word of mouth being so important in the real estate biz, chances are the broker’s going to jump at the chance to make things right.