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    Pocket and Coming Soon Listings: Do the Right Thing

    You may have heard about Zillow's 'coming soon' listings feature. Coming soon and pocket listings, regardless of their place in the real estate industry as a whole, still need to be compliant with TREND's Rules and Regulations. Here is a refresher on these listings, what TREND's rules are with regards to them, and how they impact the MLS and the greater real estate community.

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    With the announcement of Zillow's 'coming soon' listings feature, the topic of pocket listings has come to the forefront; especially with relation to concerns surrounding the ways they are used by some real estate professionals. There are also discussions about whether or not this practice serves a seller's best interests or even the real estate community as a whole.

    Even as these discussions will continue, many MLSs, including TREND, still require you to comply with their rules regarding listing entry.

    What Are Pocket or 'Coming Soon' Listings?

    You may have heard these listings called by any number of names: off-MLS listings, office exclusives, waivered, exempted or pocket listings. Whatever you call them, they are all properties that are listed for sale with an MLS member but NOT included in the MLS.

    Zillow's new "coming soon" listings feature allows certain agents to post homes that are not yet available for sale on the site up to 30 days before they are added to the MLS.

    You Must Still Follow These TREND Rules

    These listings are not prohibited by TREND. However, you must always follow TREND's Rules and Regulations with regard to them.
    1. You have three business days (unless precluded by law) once a listing contract is signed by all parties and term has begun to either enter a listing OR submit a completed Waiver of Broker Cooperation form to TREND.
    2. Only the seller—not the agent or broker—can decide to exclude a listing from the MLS. And that is why the seller is required to sign the waiver.
    The waiver alerts TREND that a signed listing agreement is in place for the property, and confirms the seller is aware that withholding the listings from the MLS may adversely affect its exposure and their goal of getting the best price for their property.

    For more information on listing requirements in TREND, click here.

    Are Your Clients Best Interests Being Served?

    The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has responded to the recent industry discussion surrounding "coming soon" listings by reminding members that, "'The first important step in advising a seller-client on whether to advertise a property as 'coming soon' is to identify the client's best interests, as defined by that client…Failing to act in the client’s best interest and failing to disclose the pros and cons of a limited marketing plan, such as 'coming soon' advertising, can violate state real estate license laws and regulations, MLS policies, and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.'"¹

    Read more from NAR’s response to coming soon listings here.

    You can also read NAR’s guidance for members on the use of coming soon listings here.

    While TREND does not prohibit pocket listings, REALTORS® are bound by the Code of Ethics to protect and promote the best interest of the client. Listings that are not included in the MLS usually have limited exposure, prompting fewer offers and thereby reducing the possibility that your client will get the best and most reasonable price and terms.

    Most sellers just want the highest price possible for their home. The best way to accomplish that goal is to make sure their home is exposed to the maximum amount of potential buyers. There is evidence indicating that off-MLS listings usually don’t produce the best price for the seller due to limited exposure.

    Should your client have privacy or other legitimate concerns and want to keep the listing off the MLS, explain the pros and cons of how this could affect their sale.

    What Are The Potential Impacts Of These Listings to the MLS Community?

    The primary purpose of the MLS is to foster cooperation and establish offers of compensation among participating brokers. Instead of promoting cooperation, the use of pocket or coming soon listings may discourage and may dampen that spirit of sharing listing information, as well provide no assurance of cooperative compensation should you find yourself involved in a transaction that includes a non-MLS listing.

    Outside of the effect these listings could have on your seller, pocket listings also adversely affect information everyone relies on the MLS to provide.

    Skew appraisals

    Since many counties are slow to record sales, information about non-MLS listings may not be available to appraisers within the required 90-day history window. For that reason, appraisers may not be able to use off-MLS properties, possibly causing inaccurate appraisals. Additionally, many lenders will not allow non-MLS sales to be used as comparables because those properties were not adequately exposed to the market and, therefore are not an accurate representation of market-driven prices.

    Make it more difficult to determine a listing price or offer

    Brokers and salespersons heavily use the TREND database of comparables to help sellers determine list price and to help buyers determine what they should offer. Sales that aren’t included in the MLS lead to incomplete and inaccurate results.

    Stay Compliant, Serve Your Clients

    Despite the ongoing industry discussion about on this topic, remember these two things: you are still required to comply with TREND’s listing entry rules and you have an obligation to act in the best interest of your clients. Keep these two things in the forefront of your mind and you can avoid running into trouble when confronting off-MLS or coming soon listings.

    ¹REALTOR® Magazine. http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/06/17/how-avoid-trouble-coming-soon-ads?om_rid=AAB0ys&om_mid=_BToIuFB86uBi-Q&om_ntype=RMODaily. Accessed: 6/18/2014.

    Kristin Benzinger • Communications Writer / Coordinator

    Kristin joined TREND in September 2013 as a Communications Writer and Coordinator for the Design and Communications Department. She is responsible for creating news stories and writing about ways to best utilize TREND tools in the real estate industry. Learn more about our editorial contributors...

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    1 - 13 of 13 Comments
    Jon Miller
    7/28/2014 12:32 PM

    Zillow is now offering "Coming Soon" listings, another addition to their site that provides value to the consumer. In addition, consumers can find sold data on Zillow. The value of real estate agents is no longer that we are the gateway to this information. It seems that an effort to protect this information has failed and the response is to continue to hold on to the information. The result is that consumers simply go to where the information is available. I agree that pocket listings are not a good thing. I'm not even particularly happy about "Coming Soon" listings. But, in the case of "Coming Soon" listings, by not allowing them on our sites we degrade the value of that resource for consumers and drive them to Zillow and Trulia.

    It seems that the rules should change in order to allow our members to best compete. To best be able to compete, we should be able to provide more information than the other sites, not less.

    Andrew Wetzel
    7/17/2014 10:31 AM

    Buyer Agency is about MUCH more than finding listings. That is the easy part. If that is all buyers needed us to do we would have disappeared years ago. Embrace the Internet and change in general: it isn't going away!

    Andrew Wetzel

    Marlene Goldberg
    7/16/2014 10:41 PM

    Every day we are gettting closer and closer to a time when buyer agents will be obsolete. In Europe, they do not have buyer agents. Potential buyers go directly to the listing agent. Zillow and Trulia and Realtor.com are all making it easy for buyers to find properties. Pandora's box was opened the minute we started allowing commerical websites to have our listing information. The business is evolving in this fashion and not too much can be done about it imho.

    Hannah Williams
    7/12/2014 7:36 PM

    This is a wonderful article and greatly written.It is time we did something about these companies who are encouraging us to give up our cooperation with our fellow agents . They are even asking us to put our fiduciary relationship with the seller at risk . (in my humble opinion)These companies call me several times a week trying to sell me services . Now they want certain agents to pocket listings .What next ???

    Diane LePera
    7/12/2014 10:34 AM

    Once again, agents keeping us in that Used Car Salesman category. There always will be the agents that care for their pocket first, that is life. What about Janet's question Why does Fannie Mae get special dispensation?
    Plus we are now contending with our credit union backed by NAR "American Heritage Federal Credit Union" has gone directly in competition with agents by starting a Brokerage. What's next? Other banks taking our business, agents stretching the limits of Broker Reciprocity. What does this all mean; survival time which in turn breeds unethical action.
    Realtor's need to stick together and follow the co-op agreements between brokers.
    Maybe the brokers need to make a change by stating NO to Pocket Listings or you out of Broker Reciprocity. Lets stop trying to put the screws to each other in attempts to make an extra dollar.
    Find some integrity in your soul; United we stand, divided we fall

    Harry McCarty
    7/9/2014 2:40 PM

    Pocket Listings Undermine the Industry. If an agent doesn't want to play by the rules then they should consider getting out of the industry. Who is running this profession the customer/client or the professional? Would you tell your lawyer how to handle your case? No you would not! Get on board and do things the right way!

    Renee Porsia
    7/3/2014 3:17 PM

    Firstly, lets get right to the point here... the only reason any agent/broker would take a pocket listing is because they do not want to cooperate with other agents. Perhaps nobody wants to admit this or own up to it but it is what it is. The whole reason the MLS was invented was for agents all over to cooperate with one another and help sell each other's listings. Hey, why not go back to the listing books we all had in our offices and just do away with Trend altogether if agents/brokers do not want to cooperate anymore... not cooperating is just setting us back...

    You can either scream or use a megaphone to advertise a seller's listing... seller's want everyone to know that their home is on the market so what would be in their best interest to only scream or use a megaphone? C'mon now?

    I've called some of these pocket listings and don't mention that you are an agent and the listing agent will gladly talk to you all day and want to schedule a showing but call back and tell them you are an agent and all of a sudden the home isn't ready to be shown! UNETHICAL and NOT in the seller's best interest....

    I am sure if these agents who don't want to cooperate only made one side of the sale, they wouldn't be so quick to want "coming soon" listings.

    7/2/2014 7:31 PM


    TREND's rules on adding listings, as explained above, are that you have three business days (unless precluded by law) once a listing contract is signed by all parties and term has begun to either enter the listing OR submit a completed Waiver of Broker Cooperation form to TREND. Only the seller can make the decision not to add a listing to the MLS, in which case the Waiver of Broker Cooperation must be completed and submitted.

    NAR has released statements regarding Coming Soon listings. Copy and paste either of these links into your browser to view the articles and learn more:



    Kristin Benzinger

    Janet Aguilar
    7/2/2014 5:32 PM

    Check out www.homesteps.com if I am not mistaken they post homes as coming soon what is the TREND or NAR's ruling on that?

    Catherine McKendry
    7/1/2014 6:56 PM

    My concern is that the listings are handed to these companies by out sourcing,they should not be allowed to take the listings and put them on their sites anyway.They are taking the sellers property and making a ton of money selling these leads to paying agents. Whos's interest is being protected here. Is that in our clients best interest,having these companies making money hand over fist.In this market homes are on the market long enough even with all of the exposure they get. Many MLS and Boards are now fighting these companies because all of the miss information they give the consumer.I feel there would not as many issues we have now, if we had more control of our own listings and our clients had the correct exposure.There is just to much miss information on these sites and the reporting of sales, CMA's and comparable properties are not reflecting correct info. We are just sweating the pot for them to make more money off of our clients.I inform my clients of the good, bad and indifferent and in the end it is their choice.

    Kris Maroney
    6/28/2014 10:19 PM

    I'm not a fan of this idea of so-called "pocket listings". All real estate agents who are REALTORs should take a close look at the NAR Code of Ethics and Professional Standards before choosing this type of marketing for a listing. I agree with Andrew and Kenneth's comments above.

    Andrew Wetzel
    6/20/2014 1:50 PM

    Good article. Respectfully, only the seller may decide what they think is or is not in their best interests. As Realtors/ Agents and MLS subscribers, it would be nice to think we know what is best but we may not and a seller may have a reason for wanting this status. That being said, the ethical thing to do is to listen to what they say and properly advise them. I would never recommend that a seller do this but that is another matter.


    Kenneth B Krauter
    6/20/2014 1:16 PM

    Pocket or "Coming Soon" listings are NOT in the Seller's best interests since exposure of the property is not being maximized. It is in the benefit of the listing agent since the only way for potential buyers to get property information is to call the listing agent; dual agency then rears it's ugly head which opens up additional cans of worms including possible conflicts of interest and ethical issues! Remember Article 1; put the client's best interests ABOVE ALL OTHER THINGS!

    1 - 13 of 13 Comments
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