Recently there’s been a bit of buzz online about “Coming Soon” listings, and where they fall legally (and ethically) in a Realtor’s toolbox. While this topic has been an issue for numerous years, with the increased use of social media, they’re becoming more prevalent, raising difficult questions for Realtors. Here’s the long and short of what constitutes legitimate “Coming Soon” listings.
Legitimate “Coming Soon” Listings
So first let’s discuss the legitimate reasons a Realtor might have for listing a property as “Coming Soon.” Say you have a seller that’s willing to sign today, but the property has important repairs that need to be done. In this case, the property can be listed in the MLS, but advertised as “Coming Soon.” In this case the listing makes perfect sense: you can’t show the house because there are repairs being made and it’s not quite ready to be shown to potential buyers either for aesthetic reasons or potential hazards the repairs might impose. But you have the property duly listed on the MLS and you have a written listing agreement giving authority to advertise the property and spelling out your arrangement with the seller.
Illegitimate “Coming Soon” Listings
What is not acceptable (or recommended) is to list a property as “Coming Soon” for any reason that would go against the Arkansas license laws, potentially run afoul of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, or MLS rules. Once such scenario where this can happen might be:
- Marketing to Sphere of Influence: An illegitimate reason would be withholding the property from the MLS while a Realtor markets only to their sphere of influence (“SOI”) (such as social media marketing), with intent to garner favor or a higher commission by representing both parties in the transaction. This scenario raises numerous issues. First, is the Realtor violating Arkansas license law? Arkansas Code section 17-42-316 (b)(1) states that there is a duty of absolute fidelity to protect and promote the client’s interests. Is the Realtor promoting the client’s interest by marketing the property only to the Realtor’s SOI, even for a short period of time? Second, the Realtor may be in violation of their fiduciary duty of loyalty. The duty of loyalty holds that the Realtor must put the interests of the client above the agent’s own interests. Is advertising as “Coming Soon” only to the Realtor’s SOI in order to give the Realtor a better chance of getting both sides of the deal putting the client’s interest above the agent’s? Third, the Realtor Code of Ethics also imposes a duty on the Realtor to act in the best interest of the client. Would a Realtor under this scenario be in violation of the Code? Last, remember most local MLSs have rules about the timing of putting properties in the MLS. Is the Realtor violating local MLS rules by not putting the property in the MLS timely?
The short version? If you use “Coming Soon” listings, you should have a legitimate and compelling reason to do so. Always make sure that your seller understands the situation and has given written consent to market the property as “Coming Soon." As always, when in doubt, discuss with your broker before marketing a property as “Coming Soon."