“Coming Soon” Listings – Good For Sellers Or Just Listing Agents and Buyers?

It’s hard to drive through a neighborhood today and not see a “coming soon” rider on a for sale sign  in front of a house.  With the St Louis real estate market still favoring sellers in many markets due to a  low supply of homes for sale, it’s not surprising that  coming soon listings create somewhat of a fervor among would-be buyers and their agents.  However, it is not uncommon for a buyer to wait patiently for a coming soon listing to hit the market, only to find that that at the same time it comes on the market “live” in the MLS, it immediately goes to a pending sale status leaving the would be buyer out on the cold.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Assuming the seller was under the impression that, by listing their home with a REALTOR® they would get maximum exposure for their listing, through the MLS as well as the thousands of websites that receive MLS info through syndication, IDX feeds and the like, and therefore obtain the highest price the market would bear for their home (which is what you would expect from maximum exposure to the market) then the seller was short-changed.  By presenting an offer to a seller before the listing was ever taken “live” and given all the exposure the MLS has to offer, then the seller has no way of knowing that they received the highest price and/or best terms the market would bear.  All the seller knows, is that from the few people that happened to call on the coming soon sign, or that the listing agent told about the property, this was the best offer. 

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But what if you got “full price”?

Just because the seller received an offer equal to their asking price, if their home was not fully exposed to the market, then there is no way of knowing that there wouldn’t have been multiple buyers interested thereby driving the price up in excess of the asking price.  Or, at a minimum, a buyer that may have been willing to offer the same “full price” but upon terms and conditions more pleasing to the seller. Believe me, in today’s market with a shortage of good listings in many markets, bidding wars and buyer feeding frenzies are frequent occurrences today.

Who benefited from the sale?

Going back to the scenario I described above, one might ask, why would a listing agent choose to keep the listing off the market, instead promoting it as a coming soon listing only and then selling it before it hits the open market?  One simple answer is, to be able to keep both sides of the commission if not by the listing agent him or herself, then by someone on their team, thereby “keeping it in the family” so to speak.  Remember, as a seller, you are normally paying a commission that will compensate your listing agent as well as the buyers agent…if the listing agent sells the home themselves, they keep the whole commission in most instances.

Are all coming soon listings bad?

No, not at all. Just like most real estate agents take their fiduciary responsibility to their clients seriously and look out for their sellers best interest, many coming soon listings are done in a way that benefits the seller.  In fact, I use coming soon marketing and encourage our agents to use it, but not for the reason of trying to sell the listing “non-MLS” but instead to build hype and create interest in advance of taking the listing live.  Often after taking a listing, the seller may have a few “tweaks” to do to get the home ready for showings, the agent still has photos to take, brochures to print, etc, so during this time is an excellent opportunity to start creating interest by putting up a “coming soon” sign.  The key is, to make sure that after the coming soon period, and before allowing showings, that the listing agent get the listing entered and live in the MLS.  A great combination is to use coming soon marketing for a week or so, then enter it in the MLS with “no showings” until a date that is a few days out.  This method allows for maximum exposure and creates interest and demand from buyers in advance and gives them time to be prepared to act when the time comes which ends up being a win for the seller!





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