Benign (and Not So Benign) Explanations
The benign explanation for why there’s a “For Sale” sign in front of a home, but it’s not formally listed on MLS, is that there’s a brief timing difference.
The sign installation companies typically show up anywhere from 3-5 days after receiving an order, and can be behind schedule in Spring.*
Or, sometimes ahead (go figure).
Some listing agents err on the side of ordering the sign on the early side, and it arrives before their client is officially ready to go on the market.
How Long a Lag?
But, that only explains a lag time of a couple days, max.
When the “For Sale” sign appears in the front yard, yet the home is nowhere to be found on MLS, week after week, something else is probably going on.
Namely, the listing agent is most likely trolling for their own Buyer. See, “Seller’s Market Side Effects: More Would-Be Realtor ‘Hogs.'”
Called a “pocket listing,” such a scenario serves the listing agent, who stands to earn double the commission by also representing the Buyer.
But, it’s hard to see how that serves the Seller’s interests . . .
See also, “Pocket Listings: Good for Agents, Bad for Clients“; “Perils of Dual Agency: Exhibit A”; “Awkward Dual Agent Moment #24″; and “Dual Agent vs. Double Agent.”
*Before the sign companies can install a “For Sale” sign, the utilities (gas & electric) must first be marked by a separate contractor.
You’d guess that any bottleneck is often caused at that stage.