Top Agent Network (TAN), a social network designed to help top-producing agents share information on pre-MLS or non-MLS listings, announced it has acquired the domain name of PocketListings.net. In scooping up the Web address, TAN also took on PocketListings.net’s founder and CEO, Alexander Clark, as an adviser.

PocketListing.net is designed to offer a similar service to TAN. TAN’s move to enlist the help of Clark and acquire his website’s domain name appears to neutralize PocketListings.net as a potential threat to TAN’s hold on the San Francisco Bay Area market, where PocketListing.net seems to have its strongest presence.

“Technologically, the real estate industry is a step or two behind. But TAN members here in San Francisco use Top Agent Network religiously,” Clark said in a statement. “TAN is a cutting-edge real estate company that is changing the way top agents conduct their business. I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience to Top Agent Network.”

TAN said it has launched 30 chapters so far, including one in San Francisco. The company says agents who apply for membership in the network are strictly vetted, and that it accepts only agents whose MLS-sales records of the previous two years indicate that they are among the top 10 percent of agents in their local markets.

With inventories tight in many markets, selling or “premarketing” a home outside of a multiple listing service is a controversial but increasingly common practice.

Critics say that if a property is never listed in an MLS, it may sell for less than it would if it were exposed to more prospective buyers. It’s also easier for brokers to represent both the buyer and seller — collecting a commission from each — if information about available “pocket listings” are kept within the firm.

MLSs facilitate cooperation among brokers in a local market, with listing brokers offering a commission to agents who can bring a buyer to a deal. Typically, brokers must list a home for sale in the MLS within two days of securing a listing agreement.

Some sellers prefer a low-key approach to marketing a property, and keeping it off the MLS protects their privacy. Sellers choosing not to market properties on an MLS may be required to authorize that approach in writing. Sellers may be able to negotiate a commission reduction when deals don’t go through the MLS and there’s no buyer’s agent to split a commission with.

Inventory shortages in many markets may be contributing to a surge in pocket listings. A study by MLSListings Inc. found that pocket listings accounted for 26 percent of total home sales in some Northern California markets during the first quarter of 2013, up from 15 percent in 2012, a trend that officials with some Realtor associations and MLSs have found alarming.

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