Prospective homebuyers are all too familiar with the “Coming Soon” real estate signs that dot the lawns of in-demand neighbourhoods. It’s a tactic -- that in theory -- is meant to generate early buzz for a home being prepared for market and let interested parties know to keep an eye out for it on the MLS.

The problem? These properties are often never posted online, sold instead in an exclusive off-market transaction. Other properties for sale are never marketed to the general public at all, with in-the-know clients picking them up without the hassle of a competitive bidding war.

Well, the days may be numbered for these “exclusive” or “off-market” listings, as the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) announced a new Realtor Cooperation Policy last week that would require all listings be added to an agent’s board or association MLS within three days of public marketing. 

This applies to any representation regarding the sale of the property to the public or realtor not directly affiliated with the listing brokerage. Forms of advertising include social media, brokerage websites, traditional media such as flyers, yard signs and benches, and all forms of digital media. Boards will have six months to enforce the policy once it goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

According to CREA, the policy will better serve consumers by reinforcing cooperation among realtors, as well as strengthen its trademarks and professional code of conduct.

Off-market listings are popular among certain types of seller clientele; they’re often used in the high-end luxury market, as sellers may not be keen to open their multi-million dollar homes to public looky-loos. In a down market, they can also be a tactic for sellers to gauge public interest, without generating any days-on-market stats.

CREA will allow some narrow exceptions for exclusive listings, with agents allowed to keep them within their own brokerage office after informing the client in writing of the benefits of having their listing marketed via MLS to the public, and receiving explicit instruction from the client not to do so. 

According to CREA, the national association is still taking feedback from the industry in regards to these parameters, stating on their site:

“We appreciate the significant support for the policy and its intent, as well as the constructive criticism we’ve also received. For example, we’re considering adding flexibility to the policy by allowing a listing REALTOR® to directly communicate, on a one-to-one basis only, with a REALTOR® colleague in a different brokerage regarding a specific property for sale. We will bring the policy to membership for a vote at our 2023 AGM. Details and more consultation are to come.”

Real Estate News