“Withheld From MLS” — But For How Long?

It’s customary — at least for every listing I’ve ever taken — for the Seller to sign a “Withhold From MLS” form allowing me more than the otherwise maximum three days to have the home officially on the market.

curtainWouldn’t it be smart, therefore, for the Seller to contractually specify exactly how long their Realtor has to list the home?

And lacking a deadline, do Sellers ever have to worry about their Realtor dragging their feet to get the home ready for market?

“Not really,” and “hardly ever,” for two reasons:

One.  Incentives.  Commission-based Realtors only get paid when a sale is consummated.

Therefore, their financial incentive is to have the home on the market, yesterday, to expedite a sale.

When the listing agent instead is counseling delay, the vast majority of the time, their motive is to allow time for adequate prep, staging, and marketing — thereby getting the owner a higher price and a faster deal (once the home is officially for sale).**

Two.  Seller vs. Realtor “To Do” list.

Most of the listing agent’s pre-list responsibilities — including coordinating staging, photography, and marketing — only come after the owner has completed their piece.

Depending on the home and how long the owner has been there, that can include clearing city-required repairs; boxing up/emptying out/donating LOTS of things; and finally, doing strategic cosmetic updates such as new paint, carpeting, etc.

In other words:  how fast the home is ready usually depends far more on the owner and their contractors than on the listing agent and theirs.

When clients want to know how long I need to have their home on the market, my usual response is, “once everything’s ready to go, about 6-8 business days to arrange photography and prepare the marketing materials.”

**The other possibility:  the listing agent is trying to find their own Buyer for the home.

Called “a pocket listing,” this strategy puts the agent in the awkward position of negotiating against himself — or not negotiating at all!

It’s hard to see how either scenario benefits the Seller.

I address this potential conflict by contractually promising not to also represent the Buyer when I’m the listing agent.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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