What Exactly Is A “Coming Soon” Listing?

While it’s not a new thing, there have certainly been a lot more “coming soon” riders on for sale signs in yards over the past couple of years than in prior years.  This has created some questions among home buyers, particularly when they ask their buyer’s agent about seeing a listing are told it is not available to be shown yet, then later see the rider on the for sale sign change from “coming soon” to “sale pending”.  So, what’s the deal with “coming soon” listings?

The good and the bad of coming soon listings:

The Good – Many good listing agents use “coming soon” as a way of generating interest in their client’s (the seller) home in advance of it hitting the market, perhaps while the seller is completing repairs or tweaks suggested by the listing agent or the agent is finalizing marketing materials.  Typically, this is done for a short period, perhaps a week or two, and then the agent makes it known to everyone the date the listing will be available for viewing which, when done on a properly priced listing in a market with reasonable demand, results in multiple showings the first day or two the listing is available for viewing, which is good for the seller and often results in a quick sale at, or near, the list price.

The Bad – While it’s rare, there are some listing agents that use “coming soon” as a way of trying to keep the listing to themselves.  They use it to attempt to force potential home buyers to contact them for info and to avoid having to cooperate with another agent on the sale, thereby saving both sides of the commission for themselves.  As I said, this is rare as most agents out there take their fiduciary responsibility to the seller seriously and practice their craft in an honest and ethical manner, however, it only takes a few to spoil it for all.

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I should also point out that I don’t think there is anything wrong with the listing agent being the person that sells your house provided, however, that he or she does so as a seller’s agent and NOT a dual agent.  I will spare the long diatribe here on why dual agency is a bad idea, wait, a horrible idea, but here is the short version.  As a seller you hired the listing agent to represent you and, upon a successful sale, you will be paying for this representation so why in the world would you want to give up that representation and allow your agent to become nothing more than the paperwork shuffler and put themselves in a position where they can’t even give you advice on the sale legally?  That is exactly what happens with dual agency.

How do you know your agent is doing it the “right way”?

I think the easiest way to make sure your agent is working with your best interest at hand and not theirs, is if they suggest putting up a coming soon sign discuss what their plans are.  Here are some suggestions of things I would encourage our agents to do for seller’s during the coming soon period and I would look for as a seller:

  • Ask what the purpose of the coming soon period is and confirm it is for what I described above, to build up some interest and hype before your home is actually available so that there will be a flurry of activity when it hits the market.
  • Find out if the agent is going to list your home in the MLS under the “coming soon” status (which will make the 13,000+ agents that are part of the St Louis area REALTOR MLS aware your listing is coming soon) and, if not, ask why.  There are some restrictions on this status in the MLS, such as a time limit of 14 days that it can be coming soon as well as a restriction against showing the listing, so there may be a valid reason to withhold it from the MLS coming soon status, but make sure.  One such valid reason would be if it is going to take you more than 14 days to get the house ready for showings.
  • Regardless of whether the agent is putting it in the MLS as coming soon, ask what type of coming soon marketing is going to be done.  Will your home be listed on any high-traffic websites, will there be an email blast out to potential buyers, etc.  In other words, what’s the agent going to do to generate interest?
  • Ask whether your agent will be planning on showing your home prior to taking it active in the MLS.  If the answer is yes, I would then ask if he or she thinks it is Ok for them to show at that point why not take it live in the MLS to make it available to all?  If the answer is that they don’t feel it’s ready to take “live” then why waste the showing?  Have them hold off too so that buyer sees your home only when it’s ready.  If the answer is it is ready, then take it live.  The problem is, even if you get a full-priced offer during the coming soon period, you don’t know that there wasn’t a buyer out there that would have paid more than your list price!  It is not uncommon today, in the low inventory markets, with proper pricing and marketing for sellers to receive multiple offers as soon as hitting the market and even receiving offers in excess of their asking price!  If your listing was never taken “live” in the MLS and made active, it wasn’t exposed to the 13,000+ agents I mentioned earlier, nor the tens of thousands of people searching websites every day for homes that won’t see them until they are live in the ML S (or in the coming soon status in the MLS)

So there you have it.  The good and the bad (maybe even the ugly) sides of Coming Soon!  When used right, “Coming Soon” is a powerful marketing tool, when used wrong, it can cost a seller thousands of dollars!



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