New ideas aren’t in themselves a bad thing. Heck, everything was a new idea once. Sometimes, however, it seems like in the real estate industry we look like hacks and sly operators with some of the schemes we try. Real estate marketing is mostly about getting attention. Marketing IS important. We owe it to our sellers to represent their properties in the best manner that we can. But, there is no amount of marketing that can make up for an under prepared or overpriced house. A fairly priced house presented to its best advantage is ALWAYS the bedrock of marketing. I always contend that I can dress in a clown suit and hand out free pizzas in front of a new listing and it might get some attention but that frantic activity is not going to sell the house. The house has to be perceived as a good value. A free pizza is not going to influence a buyer one way or the other.
One of the newest “schemes” which is being pushed nationally is the idea of “Coming Soon”. Honestly, I think this idea started out as a way for rather self-centered real estate agents to try and pull in buyers early before other professionals could know about the property (this is a way of institutionalizing “pocket listings”). The end goal, of course, is to convey to the public that they have something that no one else has and they have to go through them to get it! Let’s look at that for a moment. Is that effective marketing for the seller? Trying to corral a few early lookers into a “first chance” position? I thought marketing was about throwing wide the net, letting as many potential buyers as possible know about the offering with idea of supply and demand increasing interest, attention and demand. THAT certainly works to the advantage of the seller. You are never going to convince me that giving just a few early lookers a chance to “scoop” the market could ever be in the seller’s best interest. The real estate agents best interest, yes. The sellers, no.
Now Zillow has institutionalized this cheesy ploy. Several multiple listing systems across the country are early adapters of the same scheme. In fact, my own company has had to institute an actual policy on how we are going to regulate this behavior. I don’t think that the management really believes it is a good idea but with the real estate giant Zillow’s institutionalization of the scheme we had to know how to deal with it because our sellers would be asking us about it. Within our own company we do allow it but under strict guidelines which require that the property actually be a signed listing with a request by the seller to only offer as “coming soon” for a certain time period before it hits the market full steam. It also has to be equally available for showing by any other agents or buyers who “happen” to see that sign or hear it publicized. It cannot be perceived as a private offering by the listing agent. So then, what did that property gain in entering this “preview” game? A little pre-publicity? If an early sale results from this effort does the economic tried and true benchmark of supply and demand just not working here? Do we not want as many people as possible to know about our offering to increase interest and demand? Or, as I suggested at the outset, is this just a way for a self-promoting real estate agent to try and pick off both sides of a transaction to their gain and most likely to the detriment of their seller who they have pledged to represent? You pick!