Today’s topic is very controversial in the Realtor community.
Q: I am seeing “COMING SOON” signs several houses for sale in my neighborhood lately. What does this mean? Why put that up if it’s not really available yet? I’ve seen Coming Soon listings on Zillow too…what’s up with that?
A: According to a recent article published on Inman.com, the leader in real estate industry news & tech info, homes are statistically selling faster when “Coming Soon” marketing is used first. Unfortunately, a lot of Realtors do not understand what Coming Soon home marketing is, and if it is not done correctly, it won’t result in a higher sale price, and could actually hurt the Seller.
As an agent – I’ve seen two sides to the way Coming Soon marketing can be done.
The first (wrong) way to do Coming Soon or “Pocket” listings: Some agents are against “Coming Soon” because there unfortunately are some unethical jerks who give our industry a bad name…er… listing agents… out there that have tried to double-side a listing before it goes in the public MLS – i.e. find the buyer and represent the seller, thus earning a double commission, and never exposing it to the public. Why is that wrong? Because that listing agent may not negotiate as hard for their seller to get top dollar, because they just want it to close to earn a double salary. Since do they allow the listing public exposure to potentially get competing offers, which could potentially drive the sale price up, this might actually be a disservice to the Seller who could’ve gotten more money for their home. So yes, some (unethical) agents handle their Coming Soon listings as described above, and they do exactly this – hoarding all the buyer leads they get in an attempt to keep the transaction in house and try to keep the listing off MLS for as long as possible. More public exposure = more showings which = higher offers, so for this reason, we do not feel this type of Coming Soon strategy is in our Seller’s best interests. Some MLS’s in certain states have even made this type of coming soon practice illegal. The National Association of Realtors even issued a warning to agents about using this practice stating:
“[A] broker who places the importance of his commission above his duties, responsibilities or obligations to the consumer who has engaged him is practicing business in a manner that endangers the interest of the public.”
The warning requires licensees to describe in the listing contract the marketing plan agreed upon by the broker and seller prior to any marketing being performed.
The second (RIGHT) way to do Coming Soon: This is how I do it, and some agents have different variations on this.
- When I take a listing, I get the “Delay of MLS entry” form signed which is now required in the State of Florida which tells my Seller we are delaying MLS entry until a specific date, as specified by NAR’s warning above. Then my first two calls are to my sign company to get a sign put in the lawn with a COMING SOON rider on it, and to my professional photographer. The COMING SOON rider causes people to call the dedicated traceable phone number I have set up on my signs, so no lead is missed when they call on one of our listings.
- Once I have the pictures and virtual tour video from the photographer, I start a Coming Soon marketing blitz online. This often includes Sponsored Facebook and Google ads, email blasts to our client database of over 5,000 people, and marketing to other Realtors in town. Because the inventory of homes for sale is so low in our area, Realtors are on the look out for Coming Soon listings. They are tired of being beat out by multiple offer situations and want to be the first one in the door. Once we create this viral campaign, we let it run for 5 to 14 days depending on time of year and other factors, and then we schedule the listing to go live in MLS late on a Thursday or early on Friday. The reason is because it takes 24 hours generally to syndicate a listing into Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and other 3rd party websites. Thus, they show up online everywhere by Saturday morning, and voila, tons of showings and open house attendees (assuming it is priced correctly) over the weekend.
- We also do an offline marketing blitz via talking to Realtors at local “pitch” sessions, inviting them to a Broker’s Open, and we do a postcard blast to the neighborhood surrounding the listing. We also call and door knock the nearest several hundred neighbors to let them know about the listing and upcoming Open House.
- Before we put the listing live in MLS, we set up the Open House(s) for that first weekend the property will be listed. The idea is to funnel as many showings as we can into the Open House time slots and during that first weekend so that buyers are literally bumping into each other. You delay ALL SHOWINGS until this point. This creates a bit of an auction effect, and it makes it fair for everyone. Buyers think, “Oh wow, I hope that other couple isn’t interested too, I love this house!” It causes buyers to bring in strong offers, and fast, so they don’t get beat out by the other people looking at the listing. Again – this only works if the home is priced appropriately for the market. On an overpriced listing or a listing in poor condition, a Coming Soon buzz will flop.
- When we list the property on a Friday, if we are pretty certain we are going to get multiple offers due to the price point or condition of the home, at our seller client’s direction we’ll put in the MLS Realtors Only remarks field “Seller will review all offers by Monday at 5pm.” This tells Realtors they cannot put in an offer on Saturday and expect a response within 12 hours. It also allows the Seller enjoy their weekend stress-free without trying to find a scanner or fax machine. It gives everyone a chance to put in their offers fairly, and often this results in competing offers over asking price. I recently did Coming Soon marketing on a few new listings and this one got 4 offers in 5 days on the market and sold for 103% of the asking price, and this one sold in 3 days, had 6 offers and went for 102% of the asking price, and this one got 4 offers in 7 days and sold for 100% of asking price. Not bad!
More on the Sponsored Facebook post we do. We put up 3 or 4 of the best professionally shot photos of the house as a teaser, with some semi-vague text about the home and I put a link that says Coming Soon – Click Here for More Photos & Info. When the consumer clicks on the link, it takes them to a dedicated website that I have set up about the home, with more pictures, virtual tour, pricing, etc. but after 30 seconds they are forced to register to continue viewing the photos. Some might argue this is annoying and spammy – but my seller clients love it. Do you know why? Because serious buyers fill out the form to get the info. And then myself and my team follow up with that buyer and arrange to get them in to see the house in person once they are pre-qualified. Here’s a sample Coming Soon post I just started running on Facebook:
As you can see this Coming Soon campaign above has only been running for 4 days. Already we have had 3,289 views on the listing, and have had 13 real buyer leads so far come in via the dedicated website that we created to track and qualify the buyers to see if they may want to see the home in person and potentially make an offer.
We hope this explains a bit more about how Coming Soon marketing can work to a Seller’s benefit, when done correctly. It takes choosing an ethical Realtor who has a great system, who knows how to strategically market a home to get such a high level of exposure.
Looking for a great Real Estate Team to sell your home fast and for top dollar? Contact us today for a complimentary and confidential market analysis. We’d love to show you our complete marketing plan for your home!