In the May, 2013 issue of the Bulletin, an article appeared entitled New Brokerage “Coming Soon”. The article addressed increased calls to the Commission regarding the use of “Coming Soon” sign riders attached to “For Sale” signs, and it generated so much conversation about issues stemming from this marketing tool that we felt it warranted a place in the Update Course as well as a follow-up article addressing a few lingering questions.
Q: I have a client who is ready to list, but needs to clean up the inside and make a few repairs. Can I list the property but not show it until it’s ready, and can I place a “For Sale” sign in the yard with a “Coming Soon” sign rider to generate interest in the meantime?
A: Maybe. You must first enter into a written agency agreement with the owner that authorizes you to advertise the property. Once you have that, you can place a sign in the yard. If the property is not ready to be shown TO ANY potential buyers, you may attach a “Coming Soon” rider. Remember that your sign must comply with Rule A .0105 Advertising.
Q: My client wants me to list his home but he’s not ready to sign a listing agreement yet. Can I advertise his property as “Coming Soon”?
A: Maybe. A broker is prohibited from advertising property belonging to another without first entering into a written brokerage agreement. The brokerage agreement must comply with the requirements of Rule A .0104, Agency Agreements and Disclosure, but the owner could limit the agreement to advertisement of the property as “Coming Soon” only. If that is the case, the broker may place a “Coming Soon” sign in the yard but may not place a”For Sale” sign, as the owner has not listed the property for sale. Under those circumstances, the broker may not advertise or disclose a list price and may not show the property to any potential buyers.
Q: My client wants to list now, but she doesn’t want a lot of traffic in her home. I’d like to take the listing and place a “Coming Soon” sign, either as a rider to a “For Sale” sign or as an independent sign, in the yard, but not advertise the property in the multiple listing service and only show it to a few buyers I know are interested in that type of property. That way I can generate leads without opening her home to a lot of traffic.
A: No. Once the property is listed for sale, it should be available for viewing by any interested buyers unless legally and specifically excluded by the seller. For example, a seller may direct you to not advertise the property on a particular site or not to show the property to a specific person as long as the basis of the denial is not discriminatory. By limiting the market of potential buyers to those within a broker’s firm or those with a business relationship to the broker or another broker, you may subject yourself to a claim of discrimination or even antitrust violations. In addition, you are likely doing a disservice to your seller client. Limiting potential buyers may also limit the potential selling price of the property. If you belong to a multiple listing service, you may be required to enter a new listing within a certain period of time. Post-dating a listing to avoid a problem with the MLS could be considered a misrepresentation. If you are a member of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, this type of conduct may constitute a violation of their Code of Ethics as well.
Remember, the goal is to sell the property under the most favorable terms for your client, not yourself. If your client isn’t prepared to have buyers view the property, that means none, including your own or your buddy’s. Please call the Regulatory Affairs Division at 919-875-3700 if you have further questions about this or any other topic.
This article came from the October 2013-Vol44-2 edition of the bulletin.