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Real Estate

Watch for the 'pocket listing' debate to heat up this year


In the real estate industry, we've seen some renewed controversy over an old practice -- placing the yard sign in the ground without listing the property in the Multi-List service, either for a few days or even longer.

I remember the practice well from my days as a buyer agent back in the early 2000s, when sellers would pop a sign in their yard “a few days early” to attract drive-bys (which were plentiful back then).

Today, in general, this sort of activity is condoned by the seller and the result is termed a “pocket listing.” (You’re keeping the listing “in your pocket.”)

Many professionals continue to object to this practice as a disservice to the information-sharing nature of the MLS agreement between co-operating brokerages in a market. Nationally, however, it’s one of those things that continue to exist in the real estate industry. There have even been estimates that as much as 50 percent of real estate transactions take place outside the MLS system.

As an example, a recent “coming soon” sign issue in the Lancaster market prompted the local MLS association to remind members that the policy is that the property must be listed within 48 hours of the agreement being signed. There are four major Multi-Lists in the midstate area, each with varying policies on the subject, but the general consensus is that pocket listings and/or “coming soon” listings are to be minimized.

Today, national real estate information aggregator Zillow announced that it would begin offering “coming soon” advertising to agents who already advertise with them. The announcement emphasizes that participating agents will be required to check off whether their advertisement is allowed by law and policy at the local and state level.

This new online option for home sellers by a major player in the real estate space virtually assures that the controversy over “coming soon” and “pocket listings” by agents will hit new heights around the meeting rooms of Multi-Lists around the country this summer.


Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor.

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