Having been a real estate Broker for over 20 years, I have seen a great deal of change take place in the way homes and other properties are bought and sold.  Technology has certainly played an impactful role not only in real estate but with our entire lives and it will continue to do so well into the future.

When I entered the business in 2001 paper MLS® catalogs were still in use.  They were published bi-weekly, listing all of the properties listed for sale within our local real estate Association’s market area.  The MLS® catalog was our real estate “Bible” so-to-speak, a source of information we couldn’t do without much less work effectively in best serving our Seller and Buyer clients.  The Internet subsequently ended the need for paper MLS® catalogs and in the years that followed ongoing changes in technology further improved the way in which we list, market and sell properties including real estate websites, listings that included multiple photos, virtual tours, maps showing where there were located and more.

Personally I embrace and accept technology as it has become one of the means for us to provide better ways to service the needs and demands of today’s real estate consumer.  This is essentially what our primary role as real estate professionals is.  Further I also believe that information and other technologies for better or for worse, will continue to evolve at an even faster rate that what we have experienced in the last 3 to 5 years never mind the last 10 to 20 years or more.

When it comes to real estate, there are some changes and or business methods today that were not created by technology, many of which I do not accept as they are often initiated by REALTORS® themselves.  While it may be claimed that a specific business initiative or method is of benefit consumers specifically Sellers and Buyers, that is not always the case.  Far too often these initiatives despite the claims are not undertaken to enhance the consumer’s experience or benefit.  Rather they are for the benefit of the REALTOR® which can and often do in the eyes of consumers, cast a negative shadow or opinion about the real estate profession as a whole.  Consumer surveys conducted over the years have often yielded results that post REALTORS® way down the list of professions in terms of integrity and trust which is not an envious position for our profession to be in.

During the robust period of real estate sales that we experienced in 2020, 2021 and into 2022, there were numerous media reports detailing bad experiences that some consumers had had.  Many of these involved Buyer’s efforts when trying to purchase a home in the overheated market, a market that was rampant with multiple offers thereby creating bidding wars with homes selling for well over their respective asking prices.  Further, these conditions often created no opportunities for Buyers to make “conditional” offers including  home inspections, obtaining satisfactory mortgage financing, insurance etc.   While not all of the hyper market activity or exuberance  was created by REALTORS®, some in fact was and it was consumers that paid the price.  Buyers bought homes that turned out to have defects which in some cases made Sellers look dishonest for not disclosing them.  In this and future  posts I am going to address some issues that need to be clarified in order to make Seller and Buyers aware of some specific business practices that may not be in their best interests.

We’ve all seen homes with a For Sale sign in the yard or perhaps it appeared on social sites such as Facebook and others with the statement “Coming Soon.”  That’s fine for announcing an upcoming movie at the local theatre but that wording is unacceptable when referencing the sale of a property as it begs the question “Coming Soon” to what?

For clarity, the correct and only allowable statement that we as REALTORS® can use in Canada is, “Coming Soon to REALTOR.ca.”  Such a statement clearly denotes that the property is coming onto the market For Sale via the MLS® System and will appear on websites the most popular of which is www.realtor.ca the consumer real estate website run by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Toi give you some history, the whole idea of “Coming Soon” for real estate purposes started in the U.S. several years ago then made its way to Canada where it took hold in markets such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  It then migrated north up into the Southern Georgian Bay area and beyond where it was regularly used particularly during the busy market period mentioned above.

The first question Sellers need to ask the REALTOR® listing their home For Sale is (1) do they advocate and or use “Coming Soon” in their marketing and (2) what is the purpose of a sign that includes “Coming Soon to REALTOR.ca?”  Personally I feel this is a valid question for consumers to ask when they are interviewing REALTORS® to potentially list their home with.  The answer can be twofold with one being more to the REALTORS® benefit than a consumers.

First, MLS® rules state that “Coming Soon to REALTOR.ca” signs are only permitted for a period of 3 days after which the property must be posted on the MLS® System.  This practice is essentially or should be nothing more than a form of advance advertising or marketing.  The primary intent of that 3 day window is to allow the listing salesperson time to get photos of the property taken, a For Sign installed and to complete other documents needed in order to get the property listed on the MLS® System.

The 3 day window may also be needed to give the Sellers time prepare the house for showings or an Open House etc.  In addition, the intent may be simply to let people driving by as well as letting the neighbours know, that the property is going to be For Sale.  In some instances, a neighbour may have a friend that is interested in moving into the area etc. so again this helps with doing some advance promotion of the property before the home actually hits the MLS® System.

The other question to consider, is the “Coming Soon” sign being used for nothing more than buying the listing REALTOR® time to promote the listing on their own with the hope that he/she will sell the property on their own thus allowing them to earn the full commission without having to share a portion of the  commission with a Buyer’s brokerage.  In the real estate profession this is referred to as “double ending.

Example:  If the listing salesperson sold a home themselves for $500,000 during the “Coming Soon” period when the property was not listed For Sale on the MLS® System, they would/could earn the full commission ie: 5% ($25,000) as there would be no Buyer brokerage to pay 50% of the sale commission to which in this case would be 2.5% ($12,500).  Clearly this would be of great financial benefit to the listing salesperson.  The question is however is this in the best interest of the Seller(s)?  From a financial perspective the Sellers in this situation would be no better off unless the listing Brokerage salesperson had agreed in writing in the Listing Agreement, to a commission discount of say from 5% to 4% if they were to sell the home themselves with no Buyer Brokerage having to be paid.  On the other hand if the house sells quickly during the 3 day “Coming Soon” period and the Sellers do not have to go through multiple property showings, Open Houses, and a longer time for the home to sell, they may see that as a benefit although not necessarily a financial one.

When working with my personal real estate Seller clients I have never used the “Coming Soon” approach.  The house is either For Sale or it’s not.  Why play what may be viewed by some as a silly game.  There have been instances when a For Sale sign stating “Coming Soon to REALTOR.ca” went up and the sign stating that was in place for weeks.  For consumers and in particular potential Buyers, it was was both confusing and misleading hence the MLS® Rules were changed limiting the “Coming Soon” period to just 3 days.

There are lots of rules in place governing both REALTOR® conduct as well as how the MLS® System is to function.  All of these are in place primarily to protect consumers.  As REALTORS® we are licensed under provincial law specifically the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act 2022.  Due to some of the unfortunate circumstances that consumers have found themselves in often at the hands of REALTORS®, the province of Ontario has passed the “Trust In Real Estate Service Act 2020” (TRESA) which replaces REBBA comes into effect April 1, 2023 and I will be providing more information on TRESA in future posts.

Hopefully I have provided some meaningful information herein and answered questions you may have had about real estate signs that include “Coming Soon to REALTOR.ca”.  At the very least this is a among the matters which I encourage Sellers to ask when interviewing potential REALTORS® with which to list their home For Sale.  When it comes to anything that pertains to what is often the most valuable asset, you have real estate, there are no dumb questions.

In my next post I am going to touch on another hot topic commission.  When to comes to a real estate transaction, money is often the primary concern of both the Seller(s) and Buyer(s).  Among the many aspects of our role as real estate processionals, our primary objection is to ensure both the Seller(s) and Buyer(s) are treated fairly.  The commission we earn in the process whether we are working for one party or both is secondary and our efforts should reflect that.

As always, my primary goal is to provide my clients and potential clients with the best information possible that you need in order to make informed real estate selling and or buying decisions.  As always I welcome your comments and or questions.