The Downsides of Discreet Marketing

Published: 17/12/2017 By Tom Bloomfield

Discreet Marketing is where an estate agent restricts a property’s exposure by holding it back from online advertising on sites like rightmove, often in favour of emailing it to their buyer database only.

It’s an increasingly popular method of marketing which is normally deployed in the hope that buyers may overpay for a house to prevent it from going public, or as a device for testing a home’s asking price prior to a formal launch.

Recent research carried out by Countrywide suggested that as many as 20% of UK sales will be the result of discreet marketing this year, but I want to put forward two potential downsides of this method:
The Potential to Undersell. However many buyers an agent has on its email database, even the largest firms will have only a slice of the active buyers searching on Rightmove and similar sites.

So whether a house sells or not during discreet marketing, its value has not been properly tested because it could not have reached the entire market.
In my view, this also means a proportion of the homes that sell discreetly will inevitably do so at less than their market value having missed the attentions of the very best buyer.

Wasting Valuable Time.  I have known of houses being discreetly marketed for many weeks by agents before they are eventually advertised online. This is an investment of the vendor’s time which could be costly if they are in a hurry to move. It should only take a few days to reach an entire discreet list by phone or email after which (if a buyer is not found) the house should progress quickly to the open market.
If a vendor is not in a hurry to sell and if they value their privacy then discreet marketing is an option that will sometimes work, however its chances of success have reduced in the context of a modern housing market where almost every buyer is searching online.