The Asheville real estate market remains very strong, especially in the more affordable price ranges. It’s February as I write this, and this is typically the lowest time of year in terms of inventory. Let’s take a look at the current inventory figures.
Now that inventory levels have bottomed out, it’s time to start thinking about the spring listing season. Many sellers are in the process of interviewing listing agents, packing up personal items, and putting the finishing touches on projects to prepare their homes for sale. Historically, listing inventory starts to increase around March and peaks sometime around late summer or early fall. Inventory then drops sharply as pending contracts close and many unsold listings go off the market through the winter.
While sellers are preparing their homes for sale, buyers from outside our area are starting to plan their visits over the next few months. As buyers compete for new listings, some become frustrated after losing a bidding war. And out-of-area buyers may be at a disadvantage when they can’t make a trip to Asheville in time to see a new listing before a contract is received from another buyer. But a new feature in the Asheville area MLS may offer a solution to this problem.
How the Coming Soon Status Works
MLS classifies listings by “Status.” Any listing that is actively available on the market is simply “Active,” while a pending sale is called “Under Contract.” But now, MLS has a new status called “Coming Soon.” Listing agents and sellers can now “pre-market” a property for up to 21 days before it becomes a truly active listing.
Here’s how it works. The seller’s agent will put the listing in MLS just as they would any other listing, but with a Coming Soon designation. The listing will then be available to any agent with MLS access, as well as their buyer prospects who have automatic email listing alerts set up through MLS. This Coming Soon status is available for up to 21 days. The agent and seller will choose a “Marketing Date,” which will be the date that the Coming Soon status ends and the listing automatically becomes a normal “Active” listing.
The listing will not be syndicated to other websites (Zillow, Realtor.com, real estate company websites, etc.) until the end of the Coming Soon period. Automatic listing alerts set up through these other websites will also not contain the new Coming Soon listing.
During the Coming Soon period, no showings are permitted. The listing agent and seller are required to sign a form agreeing to this rule in order to use the new Coming Soon status. However, buyer’s agents may begin scheduling showings, but the showings will not take place until the Marketing Date or later.
Benefits to Sellers and Buyers
While this is a new marketing tool and we are just now seeing it in practice, I think there are some obvious benefits to both sellers and buyers. First, sellers will have the ability to generate some buzz for their home prior to actually going on the market. A “Coming Soon” sign can be placed on the property. Buyer’s agents can share the listing information and photographs with their buyer prospects. And during the Coming Soon period, the “Days on Market” does not accrue. So, sellers are getting up to 3 weeks of limited exposure without any increase in days on market. All of these benefits will help sellers take advantage of the current sellers’ market.
For out-of-area buyers, this pre-marketing time will provide an opportunity for them to plan a trip to the area to see a house once the Marketing Date arrives. The Marketing Date is visible in MLS, so buyer’s agents will know when the property will be available for showings. For local buyers, a drive-by may be possible. Often, a buyer can eliminate a home from consideration simply by driving by it. Or, a drive-by may confirm that the home is a good fit and the buyer should plan to see the home as soon as the Marketing Date arrives.
I anticipate some buyers will have offers ready to submit prior to seeing a property, and will just need to schedule the showing to confirm that the condition and layout of the house is what they’re expecting. And in some cases, buyers may actually submit offers during the Coming Soon period without having seen the inside of the home. In this case, the seller’s agent must present the offer, but showings are still not permitted.
This brings up another point. The Marketing Date can be moved up at the seller’s discretion. So if the seller needed a couple of weeks to make repairs or finish painting and completes those items earlier than scheduled, the Marketing Date can be changed to an earlier date. However, it cannot be extended beyond 21 days. If unforeseen circumstances require the house to remain unavailable for showings beyond 21 days, the listing will need to be marked “Temporarily off Market.”