The Austin MLS Now Has a ‘Coming Soon’ Status
Update August 2018: The Austin Board of Realtors has Discontinued use of the Coming Soon Status. It caused more trouble that it was worth.
Austin Realtors can now enter For Sale listings into the Austin Central Texas MLS before the listing is ready for showing. For up to 14 days prior to the “Active” date. And, therefore, buyer agents and buyers can get a “heads up” on listings that are (supposedly) about to come onto the market live in the MLS.
What Problem Does This Solve?
During Austin’s red hot seller’s market of the past 5 years, it had become increasingly frustrating for Buyer Agents and Buyers trying to operate in a low inventory market. We heard tales of buyers literally driving zig zag through neighborhoods looking for “Coming Soon” signs. Every new listing that popped up live in MLS became a Red Alert fire drill, as I wrote about previously, saying Every Offer is an Emergency Now, pointing out that as a buyer, you have been largely “competing” for homes for sale in Austin, not buying them.
The “Coming Soon” in MLS idea is to move that physical “Coming Soon” sign from the front yard into the digital space where every Realtor can see it from a screen, instead of driving around. This is no doubt a more organized way than yard signs, or the myriad Realtor Facebook groups where agents announce an upcoming listing, but which has no search or alert capabilities such as the MLS.
Does it Actually Solve the Problem?
I don’t know, you tell me. You’re the Buyer. Instead of a new listing in the MLS that you and your agent can immediately go see and write an offer on, it’s a “Coming Soon”. It may NOT be showable, and seller may NOT be accepting offers just yet. There may not be photos or any actual detail. The required fields to enter a Coming Soon into the MLS are very few, only about 10 or so data fields. But you will have a “heads up” that it is “coming soon”.
And a Coming Soon listing can remain in that state for 14 days. At that point, it either has to be made “Active” as a full and complete, ready to show Austin MLS listing, or it automatically reverts to “Incomplete” in the system and disappears from the radar, not findable in MLS and not displayed on public sites. It may in fact never become Active. More on that below.
Here is a screen shot of a “Coming Soon” search in Austin. The Pink are Coming Soon. I don’t know why some greens (Active) are showing as well, but I assume they were formerly CS and are now A but haven’t refreshed in the mapping.
So, as a buyer looking, waiting for the next possible home to come on the market, this could be helpful. But it could also be just a new form of frustration. Do you want your agent calling to tell you “there is a new one that looks good, but we can’t see it yet, and the agent isn’t sure when it will be ready. Maybe in a week or so”? I don’t know, I can think of scenarios where that just adds to the frustration.
But the idea is that you’ll know when the show-ready date will be and you can plan accordingly, versus waking up one day and seeing “surprise” there is a new listing that looks good, and having to rush to see it in a panic because it might not last the day.
Is This Perfect Timing for this New Status?
Yes, it’s perfect … if you are a fan of irony. This is a “hot market solution”, rolled out just as our Austin “hot market” is losing steam. The number of daily price drops in the Austin MLS now exceeds the number of Pending (homes going under contract each day).
We’ve had a 5 year run with a strong market, price appreciation that isn’t sustainable, and crazy multiple offer situations. It’s not a real estate “bubble” per se, but the “hotness” of the Austin market is cooling, and things will return to normal. That means there will be far less panic buying and fewer instances of buyers who “missing out” because you weren’t poised to pounce within 4 hours of a new listing going Active in MLS.
So, very soon, if not already, we will have a tool that solves a problem that no longer exists. As usual, the real estate industry lags reality.
Will it Create New Problems?
Yes. Remember, even though we have a Realtor Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, not all Realtors abide by those principles. I predict the Coming Soon will, at least in some cases, be used simply to “test” the market. A reluctant seller will be told by an eager listing agent trying to get the listing “why don’t we just try it as a Coming Soon for a couple of weeks, and if we don’t get an offer or any serious interest, you don’t have to list it?” This will happen, if it isn’t already.
Also, agents may just start using it as another form of Active, which again defeats the purpose.
Done right, that could be an effective strategy to generate urgency, depending on the home and the level of demand for it. But in that case we will have created a “shadow market” or “pre-market” tool. A way to “probe” the market a bit without fully committing to go live with a full blown MLS listing. That’s not what it was designed for. But since it was designed to solve a problem that no longer exists, agents will seek to gain value from it some other way.
I myself have a new listing Coming Soon next week. I still have painters in the house, then we’ll do photos and a final clean. I have the Coming Soon sign in the yard but I do NOT have it as Coming Soon in MLS. It’s not ready to be shown, I don’t want people going through, so what’s the point?
When callers call from the sign, I tell them that their Realtor can set up an alert to let them know when it goes live, and that we always have a weekend open house first weekend live, and give it a few days before accepting an offer. I may try the Coming Soon in MLS at some point, but the house I’m still prepping is not a good candidate for it, in my judgment. I don’t want too much exposure for just yet, because it’s not ready.
OK, just for fun I’ve set up a search on my CrosslandTeam site in case you want to see all Coming Soon houses in Austin, how they appear online. I’ve also added it as a search selection on our main Search menu dropdown. It will be interesting to check the stats in a month or two to see if site visitors are more interested in homes Coming Soon than they are home Already Here!
This his how is goes in the Realtor Technology world. We do the best we can with what we have. Our best thinking gives us these ideas and tools. We, as an industry, are really good at skating to where the puck was, instead of where it’s heading. In this case our MLS is ahead of most other MLSs. We’ll see how this one turns out. At least we’re trying to be innovative. Onward through the fog …!