“Since the pandemic, real estate professionals have found ways around the policy,” said Matt Lavinder, president of New Again Houses, a home-flipping company. Brokers are using WhatsApp, Discord and Telegram chats to privately share listings as well, he said. “This has become a secondary market.”

Pocket listings exist in a gray space between legal and illegal, said Andrew M. Lieb, an attorney and the founder of the Lieb School, a licensed New York State real estate school. The U.S. Department of Justice has argued that the practice could violate antitrust laws. They are also potentially discriminatory.

“It could be argued that they violate the Fair Housing Act,” Mr. Lieb said, because they could contribute to disparate impact discrimination, a phenomenon in which a seemingly neutral policy is disproportionately unfair to one specific group. While no such case has yet to be brought to court, there is precedent: The National…

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