Certain multiple listing services in Texas have recently added an option for brokers to list properties as coming soon. Typically, this status means the seller isn’t ready to list the property as active and needs time to make updates, repairs, address legal issues, and so forth. The benefit to listing brokers is that they’re able to gain exposure for their listings prior to active status.

Selecting the coming soon status in the MLS is easily done in a few clicks, but many Texas REALTORS® have questions about its effect in their day-to-day practice of real estate.

The following questions and answers offer clarification about coming soon MLS status. But remember, always check your MLS’s rules to ensure you’re in compliance.

Can the broker decide whether a listing can be marked as coming soon?

No. The decision to list a property as coming soon should be the sellers’. Otherwise, a listing broker may be at risk of violating the Code of Ethics, breaching fiduciary duties outlined in TREC rule 531.1, and possibly violating fair housing laws. TREC advertising rules may also apply. Coming soon status is not intended to give the listing broker a competitive advantage or avoid listing a property on the market.

Keep in mind that the listing broker is acting on behalf of the seller and needs to make sure all decisions are made to benefit the seller. The listing broker cannot put his self-interest above the seller’s.

Can a broker list property in the MLS as coming soon without a listing agreement?

No. The MLS rules require a broker to have a signed listing agreement or certification before submitting a property to the MLS, even if it’s not ready to show.

What if your MLS doesn’t have a coming soon option?

Check with your MLS about how it treats off-market listings. Most MLSs have adopted the model rule for off-market listings. This occurs when the seller refuses to permit the listing to be disseminated to the participants, but it is still filed with the MLS.

How long can a property be listed as coming soon in the MLS?

It depends on your MLS rules. Some MLSs define a specific timeframe, such as 14 days, while others have no limit. There can also be rules about what happens if the listing’s coming soon status is not changed before the deadline to update it to active. For example, one MLS automatically changes the listing to off-market status and has restrictions on when the listing can be resubmitted as coming soon.

Three reasons why the seller should decide whether a property is coming soon

A seller should be the one who decides whether a property will be listed as coming soon; otherwise, a decision by a listing broker can raise red flags. Here’s why.

  • Texas Real Estate Commission rules require brokers to represent the interest of the client and not place the broker’s personal interest above the client’s.
  • Article 1 of the Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to pledge themselves to protect and promote the best interest of their clients.
  • Article 3 of the Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to cooperate with other brokers, except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest. Standard of Practice 3-10 further provides that the duty to cooperate relates to the obligation to share information on listed property and make it available to other brokers for showing to a prospective purchaser when it is in the best interests of sellers.

Can a listing broker show a coming soon home to one agent but not others?

Yes, but only if the seller directs the listing broker to allow the showing. Otherwise, a property listed as coming soon should not be open to showings. Also, be careful to avoid any practices that violate—or may appear to violate—fair housing rules, such as restricting individuals belonging to protected classes from viewing the property.

If the seller allows one agent to show the property, does that mean she has to allow all agents?

No. A seller is not obligated to allow other showings even if she has let one agent show the property. However, if the home is ready to show, it’s a good idea to change the status in the MLS to active. Be sure to check with your MLS rules as well.

Can a coming soon property go under contract before going active in the MLS?

Yes. If the seller wishes to sell the property before the listing goes active, it is her right to do so. However, MLS rules may still require that the sale be reported to the MLS.

Can a listing broker charge a fee to a buyer’s broker to view a coming soon listing?

Only if directed to do so by the seller. Remember that a broker represents the interest of the client and should not place the broker’s personal interest above the client’s.