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Here's what's behind the surge of 'coming soon' signs in Alaska real estate

Anticipation. Whether the smell of bread baking in the oven or the grand opening of a new store, a post of "coming soon" has universal appeal. Such billing brings excitement, generates discussion and gives a deadline for action.

Around town you may have noticed a surge of "coming soon" signs on homes for sale. Perhaps you've been curious about what "coming soon" means. Depending on whether you are a seller or buyer the effect is slightly different, so here is some background.

Recently, the Alaska Multiple Listing Service changed its rules to allow "coming soon" signs. At the same time, MLS put in place stricter guidelines for its members in order to protect consumers (sellers, buyers and the general public). Failure to follow the guidelines can subject a real estate professional to escalating fines.

The new "coming soon" category allows a property that is within 15 days or less from being ready to be offered for sale to be premarketed with signs and online announcements. However, showing the property to other real estate professionals or prospective buyers is not allowed during the "coming soon" period.

The main concern here was to protect the fiduciary relationship between the consumer and a real estate professional. Sellers place their trust in a real estate professional to sell a property at the highest value possible, and to work through the complicated process based on their particular situations.

Adequately fulfilling fiduciary duties would warrant trying to obtain the highest and best value for the seller. This also means exposing the property to the largest possible pool of buyers to create the competitive push needed to generate multiple offers. Multiple offers may make a big difference to the sellers' bottom line by netting them the most favorable terms and highest price for the property.

The same fiduciary responsibility occurs even if a property is not put into MLS or there is a delayed entrance into MLS. Previously, a seller may have unwittingly agreed to either status for a short period, but still allowed a select group of potential buyers see the property beforehand.

Then, just as the property went into the MLS, an offer appeared. While this sounds like the perfect solution for the seller (a quick sale), the seller may not have realized the property was not fully exposed to the market where other buyers (potential for multiple offers) were waiting and watching for more properties to come on the market that fit their needs.

With new rules, if a property does go into a non-MLS status, the property must wait a minimum of six months before it can be placed in the MLS for full exposure. In this digital information age, what circumstances would justify a property not getting full market exposure?

Perhaps some sellers simply want to sell a property quickly. Other sellers may find less stress and disruption in their lives from fewer property showings. But unless a property is fully exposed to the marketplace, are sellers really getting the best price and terms?

Knowledge is king, so when a buyer sees a "coming soon" sign, they may call the number on the sign or another real estate professional if they have an established relationship.

When a buyer calls the number on the sign, this contact becomes a great lead-generation tool for the real estate professional. If a discussion reveals the home price or amenities don't work for the prospective buyer, the real estate professional can tell the prospective buyer about other properties and put them on an email list to maintain contact.

When other real estate professionals see a "coming soon" sign, it gives them time to contact buyers they are working with to see if the property might fit their needs.

From a buyer's perspective, a "coming soon" creates some time to peruse various websites and react, especially given the rapid speed with which information travels through the internet.

From a seller's perspective, if the "coming soon" options become a common first step in the marketing process, sellers may no longer second-guess themselves thinking they were underpriced. They will know all serious buyers had the opportunity to know the property was coming on the market.

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