Realtors aren’t known for being longheaded – they just do what they see everyone else doing. In an industry that is virtually unregulated and has no leaders, we are left with a full assortment of real estate practices – AKA the wild, wild west.
Recently, a client called me about a house that had a ‘Coming Soon’ sign in front. I called the phone number on the sign, and of course had to leave a message. The listing agent did call back, and said that the home wasn’t able to be seen for two weeks.
I called my potential buyers back, and here’s what we covered:
1. We googled the address, hoping the agent would have uploaded the listing with vivid new photos to Zillow, or perhaps we’d find it on the company website. But no new listing was found.
I checked the address in the MLS, and found that it had been sold just a few short years ago – and previous photos were still available. They were the typical photos, done with an instamatic camera on a dark day with lights off. The photos mostly featured bedding fashions from 15-20 years ago.
My buyers’ initial enthusiasm started to fade.
2. We then hit Google Maps to gather as much intel as we could from the sky. But as usual in tract neighborhoods, it looked like there wasn’t much yard, and neighbors were close by and imposing. By now, I could hear their high hopes flying out the window.
3. The new list price seemed to be in line, but, as usual, our conversation steered to the six-figure gain above what the sellers paid for it. Did they do any major improvements to warrant such a jackpot?
If the price is the same as others nearby, chances are that no improvements were made – otherwise the sellers would insist on pricing higher than everyone else. So we came to another logical conclusion – in two weeks we are going to see virtually the same house as when the sellers bought it, at the higher price.
4. Annoyed and disappointed, we wondered why an agent would be so casual about throwing out a ‘Coming Soon’ sign. The frustration in the marketplace turns people into skeptics quickly, and the obvious conclusion was that the agent’s intent was to find their own buyer, and double-end the commission.
The end result? My motivated buyers talked themselves right out of buying this house. We’ll probably check it out eventually, but we already expect to find an original-looking house with small yard surrounded by neighboring houses being offered by greedy sellers and an agent we don’t know if we can trust.
Buyers prefer to see a house right away, but are used to having to wait a bit. Thus, the Coming Soon sign should go up 1-2 days before showings commence, not two weeks – all that does is encourage buyers to forget about it.
Thanks for posting this. Sellers don’t know how much damage their agents are doing to them through all the “Pre-marketing”. There are numerous houses we have sought out when they pop up in “premarket” mode, and your 4 steps of disappointment pretty much mirror every one of our experiences. “SO WHAT” says the listing agent, we wouldn’t have bought it anyway. Maybe so. But we would have been in line at that first open house helping to create that “buzz” every seller wants. How many other potential buyers got turned off too? Pre-marketing is the best way to kill the frenzy on your house. GET GOOD HELP.
Jim. I understand if you delete this. “Coming Soon” is juvenile bragging and “marking territory” and an admission that the agent isn’t good enough to act in a timely manner.
This came over from CAR today as they tiptoe around the topic – note how they are happy to provide a form to enable a seller to opt out of the MLS:
In a competitive real estate market it is often tempting to keep a listing as a “pocket listing” or an off-MLS listing. While pocket listings can be legal, they do raise a number of practical, legal and ethical issues. Initially, within two days of obtaining the listing, all one-to-four residential and vacant lot listings must be submitted to the MLS or an opt out form (Seller Instruction to Exclude Listing from the MLS (C.A.R. Form SELM)), signed by the seller and the broker or office manager, must be submitted to the MLS.
Beyond the MLS requirements, not putting the property in the MLS can raise issues of breach of fiduciary duty to the seller, which in turn can be a violation of California Real Estate Law. The Residential Listing Agreement (C.A.R. Form RLA) devotes much of page 2 to information about the benefits of putting the property in the MLS, such as getting more exposure for the property and potentially a higher price. This section, which must be initialed by the seller, also informs the seller about closed or private listing clubs and that their use may limit market exposure as well.
These and other pocket listing issues, such as N.A.R. Code of Ethics violations, potential anti-trust violations and potential fair housing laws violations are discussed in the C.A.R. Legal Q&A Pocket Listings. If your seller is requesting a pocket listing, be certain that you fully inform your seller objectively about the advantages and disadvantages, that they have signed all necessary disclosures and opt-outs, and that it is the seller who is making the decision.
These “coming soon” listings appear to fly in the face of the rules. It may be counter intuitive from the listing agent’s perspective, but we (wifey and me) find this practice to be a turn-off rather than a buzz. In fact, our recent experience discovered such a “listing” to actually be a non-listing. Sure, there was a realtor’s sign posted in the front yard, but nada in the MLS. This led to a natural suspicion about whether the seller is hiding something, or if their agent is working a private deal with a pre-selected buyer. Feeling that our money is as green as the next person’s we figured, as Shakespeare put it, something is rotten in the state of . . . well, you know. This left a bad taste, and we decided to keep looking elsewhere. Not the first time we’ve been disappointed by the “coming soon” tactic, and probably not the last either.