Coming Soon status is a step forward

maren-kuester_smBy Maren Brisson-Kuester, Association/CarolinaMLS President

On Aug. 25, your CarolinaMLS Board of Directors voted to add a “Coming Soon” status to the MLS.

The “why” is simple — and it deals with better serving our clients, reducing our liability as brokers and keeping CarolinaMLS the essential listing source that it is.

In our low-inventory market, some agents have been labeling properties “Coming Soon” and spreading news of them within their firm and to other brokers they know. The label often comes into play when sellers have fix-up projects to do to make the home show well and need a little time to get the work done.

Makes perfect sense — except that limiting knowledge of these Coming Soon properties to only a few brokers opens the listing broker up to liability. Not exposing properties to the MLS marketplace means sellers may not get the best price or deal. I’m big on serving our clients well while not having such liability.

Adding a Coming Soon status does that. It is an appropriate vehicle for removing our liability and doing what the seller wants and needs. It also benefits buyers because they gain knowledge through their agent of what additional properties are soon to be available.

Pocket Listings: Likely Decline

The Coming Soon status is also expected to reduce the number of pocket listings but not eliminate them. There will still be a place for pocket listings, especially for high-profile sellers who do not want their home in the MLS for security reasons and who understand the downsides to not going through the MLS.

Our Realtor® Hot Topic on Aug. 15 really brought the “Coming Soon” topic into clear focus. We had a full house at more than 100 attendees, and most people arrived skeptical but left believing we needed it.

Coming Soon is needed not only for reasons I noted above, but also to help keep the MLS the comprehensive marketplace it is. Some MLSs have seen third-party providers spring up to serve the Coming Soon market — which, when combined with pocket listings, results in a large percentage of sales occurring outside the MLS.

At the Hot Topic, a presentation by Jon Coile convinced many there of the value of the Coming Soon status. Jon is vice chairman of MRIS, the MLS for the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C.

MRIS will have had the Coming Soon status for two years as of this November and has had a positive experience so far. In the MRIS market, Coming Soon listings sell faster than listings that never had the status (40.2 days vs. 60.4 days) and pocket listings have declined 75 percent. Properties listed with the Coming Soon status represent about 15 percent of all MRIS listings, he said.

Rules Essential, Under Development

Jon stressed a big reason the Coming Soon status has worked so well are MRIS rules that govern it.  Coming Soon listings are only visible to MLS subscribers, no showings are allowed until they are active listings and no feeds about Coming Soon listings go to aggregators such as realtor.com® or ListHub.

The Coming Soon status is only available for 21 days before becoming “active” or “temp off,” he noted. After the 21 days if an agent wants to remove the property from the MLS, the home can’t be listed again as Coming Soon for 90 days.

Currently, we are drawing up our Coming Soon rules for CarolinaMLS, a process expected to take several months. The CarolinaMLS Board of Directors will approve the rules before they go into effect.

Only a handful of MLSs across the country have added the Coming Soon status, and I strongly believe it’s the right thing to do and that more MLSs are likely to follow. We are not only helping our buyers and sellers, we are reducing our legal exposure as brokers and keeping our MLS vital to the marketplace.