Houses are getting scooped up before they’re listed. It’s shutting people out of homeownership

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When a couple looking to buy their first home approached real estate agent Annette Dedios at the beginning of the year, she knew it would be tricky to find something that fit their needs. They were looking to buy in Fresno, California – dubbed “the nation’s hottest housing market” by the Los Angeles Times back in March – and most of the homes listed in their desired neighborhood were above their price point.

Dedios had previously found the couple a condo in 2019, so when they approached her to get pre-approved to buy a house, she got to work. But, as she was doing so, her clients were poached by another agent – one who gave them an attractive offer: go with him to sell their condo and he would show them a home that was not yet on the market.

So-called “pocket listings” like the one that caused Dedios to lose a sale are not a new phenomenon. Brokerages have used them for years to corner the market by way of having…

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