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‘Coming soon’ listings are creative — but are they effective?

01/30/2017

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Listing agents deserve to be excited about getting a new listing. It is a personal victory!

Some agents want to get a jump on traditional marketing rather than waiting for the MLS and syndication to third-party sites to get the word out. We certainly don’t want to skip a step (MLS entries without photos or an incomplete/missing “remarks” section turn off buyers.)

But much has to happen between hearing that we have been hired and uploading the property information online. These tasks include getting the paperwork signed and processed, installing a for sale sign and other largely administrative details.

Meanwhile, we have a secret we want to share now. That is where the hope of a quick sale, perhaps to our own buyer-client, even if doing so “in the seller’s best interest,” hits the proverbial wall of rules and regulations that are intended to protect the public and ourselves.

The ‘coming soon’ listing

Some agents begin the marketing (such as by simply installing a for sale sign) without letting anyone know the property details, which frustrates agents and prospects seeking property information.

When we rush into marketing properties, just as when we add barriers to scheduling showings, we can frustrate interested prospects and, most importantly, jeopardize our duties to our client. Good intentions will not overcome poor execution!

The current version of this scenario is the “coming soon” listing. The concept, while creative, brings up many questions. They include the following:

What is the owner’s expectation of the marketing process? Is there a fully executed listing contract? How does the public, including other agents, gain information in a timely manner? Coming when, exactly?

There will always be situations in which agents tell others about an upcoming listing so that they will keep it in mind for their buyers. (But how long will they wait to see it before making an offer on something else?) Perhaps a listing agent would allow others to see the property before it hits the MLS (all agents need to know and comply with their MLS rules).

Does either really work? Do they satisfy the “best interests” of the seller while being “honest” with all others?

Thinking about intent

Aside from hoping these situations are handled properly, I wonder what the thinking behind them is.

If the goal is to generate enthusiasm, such as the hype generated by open house showings, that could work, although the enhanced competition may scare away some potential prospects.

If it was to allow some access, but not all, there could be fair housing law questions as well as questions about fair dealing — meaning, was the agent trying to serve both sides?

Traditional real estate is all about marketing, plain and simple. You have a house to market and sell, and you need prospects to see it so that someone will buy it.

Like prospecting for leads, it’s very much a numbers game: Most inquiries will not pan out. Generally speaking, we have two marketing models: a “shotgun” approach or a “rifle” approach.

Picture an empty glass. Do you want to fill it quickly or slowly? The faucet is the tool.

The shotgun approach suggests that you expose your product to as many prospects as quickly as possible, whereas the rifle approach is more targeted, which may work for unique properties (such a historic homes).

I would suggest that most houses require the shotgun approach, or exposure to as many people as quickly as possible, because we cannot determine where the most likely prospects currently live or when they may decide to make an offer on something.

Ineffectively managing the marketing process may increase the marketing time, perhaps resulting in needless and costly price reductions and causing some prospects to think there are unreported issues with the property that should concern them.

If an agent believes that using the “coming soon” strategy is appropriate and has a client’s permission to proceed, at the very least he or she must promptly respond to all inquiries and treat all parties honestly.

If their intent is to “promote and protect” the interests of their client (Article 1 of the Realtor Code of Ethics), that should not be an issue.

Andrew Wetzel is an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Follow Andrew on Facebook or Twitter

Email Andrew Wetzel

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