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The Boulder real estate market is moving swiftly at the moment. Not Boulder Creek swift but roller coaster fast. Buyers swoop in on desirable new listings like hungry vultures waiting for an injured zebra to stumble its last steps on the barren plain. If a buyer wants to be competitive they must be ready to see a new listing right when it comes on the market and ready to make a good offer almost immediately. Good fortune favors the swift.

But right now, even with the best efforts being put forth, houses are hitting the MLS already under contract. But how can this be? Is there a super buyer waiting for the sign to go up and beating everyone else to the punch? The answer is no.  What’s happening is that the listing agent is selling the house before it enters the MLS via a whisper campaign.  This can take a few different forms.

The first and most prevalent form of this practice is the inter-office preview. This is especially prevalent in larger offices, but can happen in any office where there is more than one agent. This can be as innocuous as talk around the water cooler or an interoffice memo system giving agents within the office “first shot” at upcoming listings.

The second prevalent method is the “coming soon” sign which is put up at the home before the house is offered on the MLS. If a potential buyer would stumble upon the sign they would need to call the agent for more details. The goal being that the agent would possibly be able to bring the buyer to the transaction in addition to representing the seller.

This practice, in all its forms, in my opinion, is not adding to the professional image of Realtors. Our pledge and fiduciary duty to our clients is to “promote the interests of the Seller with the utmost good faith, loyalty, and fidelity”.  In short our job is to do the best job for our clients. I would argue that in a market such as ours, where multiple offers are a normal occurrence and offers over list price are very common, a whisper campaign isn’t necessarily in the best interest of the seller.  It may be convenient for the seller and adhere to the terms of the listing contract.  But if the listing agent is only marketing the home to a very small pool of “in the know” Realtors and buyers, the best interests of the seller are pushed aside.

It’s our job to expose a listing to the largest pool of buyers possible so that the best offer can come forward.  I’ll illustrate with an analogy, if we are fishing in a small bucket (within an office or those who happen to see a sign) we are not going to catch the big fish swimming in the lake (all other buyers represented by other Realtor’s or who don’t happen to drive by).  When Realtor’s only expose a listing to a limited group I think they are doing a dis-service to their clients.

I currently have five really nice listings coming up in the next two weeks. The sellers are currently getting ready and I’m behind the scenes getting ready with the marketing.  But you won’t hear about them from me until you see them hit the MLS.  No coming soon sign, no office emails, no blog posts…  When it comes on the market it will be released for all to see and it will be up to the buyers out there who will make the best offer.  It’s my intention to work in the best interests of my clients, not my best interests or my offices best interests.

In a slower market this practice may be beneficial but right now I think it’s the opposite.