‘Coming soon’ a sign of spring

We’ve had hints of an impending spring season, yet as May arrives, it only now appears that spring intends to stick around. It seems that Mother Nature had been toying with us regarding her intentions of raising the curtain on spring. A handful of warmer sunny days last month really felt like we’d turned the page, but those few nice April days were teasing us, just like a movie theatre trailer roaring “Coming Soon … Spring!”

Perhaps Mother Nature could have been so kind as to give us some indication that the warmer weather would arrive soon. Maybe she could plant a big sign on spring’s front lawn with a “Coming Soon” rider on it!

A sure sign of the onset of spring are the sprouting of For Sale signs around our beautiful neighbourhood. You’ve probably noticed a few signs sporting “Coming Soon” riders. Just like the Fox Theatre’s posters and marquee ads, the “Coming Soon, For Sale” sign is also used as a method some realtors employ to garner advance notice and hopefully advanced interest by buyers.

But this marketing method comes with its pros and cons. Does the Coming Soon sign help in the increasingly higher stakes of the Beach real estate poker game?

Like so many other marketing practices in real estate, the Coming Soon sign started in the US several years ago, as a result of tighter market conditions in some cities, caused by lower inventory versus increasing demand. Sound familiar?

The practice is also used on some real estate web sites. Many sales representatives’ personal sites have a Coming Soon tab, where they may post interior photos and information about the listing.

Or they might coax contact information from you to actually view photos of the Coming Soon listing.

The theory behind this practice is that it is intended, or peddled, by some sales representatives as a great way to create hype or buzz for the property in advance of it actually hitting the Multiple Listing Service and the open market. Although the old reliable For Sale sign is still a very valuable device in the realtor’s toolkit, it is the technological advances to the MLS system, in conjunction with the Internet, that pushes and creates that buzz and hype for listings in a matter of hours.

The Coming Soon sign is a fairly recent addition to the real estate glossary, but this type of marketing certainly isn’t new. Before the advent of instant marketing via the web, an agent had the choice of pre-determining what date they actually allowed showings to start, usually by stating that date in the listing.

Or the listing was available according to a pre-determined schedule that the Toronto Real Estate Board followed, based on when the listing paperwork was actually delivered to the board offices by the listing brokerage, and manually entered onto the system by TREB employees. This was the Date Listing Appears or DLA. Often a listing stated “Showings DLA,” and agents had to check a date within the listing to determine a time to show their buyers that property. In some cases the listing actually appeared on the MLS system for several days, and in some cases a week (even several weeks!) before buyers were able to view it. That DLA system was eventually outlawed by the governing bodies for realtors. It was deemed to compromise the integrity of the MLS system as it appeared the playing field was not level for all buyers, as some agents hid the fact that showings were delayed in order to either get their own clients into the house before other agents’ buyers, or to simply attain buyers through advanced advertising or sign-calls.

There is a ongoing debate within the real estate industry (without a definitive answer yet), as to whether the Coming Soon sign provides a clear benefit to sellers, or if it is just a variation of the DLA system. The Real Estate Council of Ontario has weighed in with “light” guidelines for these signs (visit the RECO website for more information).

I’m quite sure that listing agents who use the Coming Soon strategy explain the benefits they believe it provides to their sellers.

One benefit of the Coming Soon sign doesn’t rest with the agent and seller. Rather, it can be used to smartly benefit a homeowner (perhaps a nearby neighbour) who may be quietly in the process of getting their house ready for market in the short term. They now know what the nearby competition is, and could realign their schedule to coincide with the Coming Soon listing hitting the market. If the homes are similar, they could have the advantage of strategically pricing and timing their home, perhaps at the expense of the Coming Soon property.

One of the pillars of a real estate transaction is “time is of the essence.” A knowledgeable real estate sales representative understands that timing and pricing are the key to a successful sale.


Thomas Neal is a well-known and respected Beach agent

tneal@trebnet.com ~ 416-690-5100

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