Joining other high-profile real estate brokerages, agents at the major Mid-Atlantic brokerage Long & Foster can now access a “Coming Soon” portal to see listings before they hit local multiple listing services (MLS), according to an announcement on Thursday.

“Our agent-to-agent portal allows our sales associates exclusive access to Long & Foster properties that are not yet in the MLS,” said Barry Redler, chief marketing officer for The Long & Foster Companies, parent company of Long & Foster Real Estate, in an emailed statement.

“Having this platform not only allows us to respond to certain seller requests but also gives our agents a leg up on the competition by helping their buyers more easily find a home in a tight inventory market,” he added.

Homesellers using Long & Foster’s service throughout its coverage area of seven states (Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey) and Washington, D.C., can benefit from potentially quicker sales of properties listed on the preview portal. Buyers can get early access to properties which match their specific search terms, said the release. The portal will only be available to Long & Foster’s more than 10,000 sales associates as an internal service.

The brokerage also announced the launch of Hot Sheets alerts, a tool that notifies agents anytime a home lists on the MLS that matches their buyer’s criteria.

“We’re dedicated to providing our sales associates with the best and most innovative tools in the business to help them achieve success for themselves and their clients,” Redler said. “The ‘Coming Soon’ portal is another tool to help them meet their clients’ needs and succeed in a competitive market.”

Long & Foster is jumping aboard a trend of brokerages offering early access to listings to differentiate themselves in a competitive space. But there has been push back against the practice.

Earlier in 2018, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the city’s powerful real estate trade group, proposed new rules in an attempt to curb pre-market listings, which have been proliferating rapidly.

But REBNY retreated from the proposal after several large residential brokerages including Brown Harris Stevens lobbied against the regulations, arguing that high-profile clients, including celebrities, typically shun public listings.

In a follow-up email, Long & Foster said that it will only list properties on Coming Soon after securing listing agreements and authorization forms from sellers. The email also said the brokerage “has policies in place” to comply with laws and the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics.

Long & Foster was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway affiliate HomeServices of America just over a year ago.

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