Do “coming soon” signs work, or are they just a waste of time? Hear how Dustin Fox, a D.C. agent with $40 million in annual sales, uses pre-listing marketing campaigns to get a big chunk of business.

You’ve seen them proudly displayed in yards, and perhaps you’ve even used a few of them yourself. No, I’m not talking about standard listing signs; I’m talking about “coming soon” signs.

Dustin Fox

These signs help generate hype around an upcoming listing — at least that’s what they’re supposed to do.

But do these signs and the whole “coming soon” marketing idea really work, or are they just a waste of time?

According to agent Dustin Fox, “coming soon” marketing can absolutely work, but it’s more about the strategy itself than the signs agents use.

Based on his sales numbers, I’m inclined to believe him.

Currently, he’s selling $40 million worth of real estate per year at a profit margin of 73 percent, and a decent chunk of his business comes from pre-listing marketing campaigns. To hear how Fox sells so much real estate without sacrificing profitability, listen to the podcast below.

For a rundown on Fox’s “coming soon” strategy, read on.


How Fox sells his ‘coming soon’ strategy to clients

Although most sellers prefer to list sooner rather than later, it’s not always in their best interest to do so.

According to Fox, taking some time to market an upcoming listing can generate significantly more interest from buyers. Here’s why: Most potential buyers don’t want a home on their radar to hit the open market — that’s when competition increases and bidding wars are likely to ensue, especially in a seller’s market.

To get sellers on board with his “coming soon” strategy, Fox simply explains that it will help get buyers’ attention prior to it hitting the open market. It’s another tool to help them get the property sold, not something that’s going to leave them with less than they deserve.

Besides, if a potential buyer comes in with a low-ball offer, Fox can just tell them that the property isn’t on the open market yet.

What about withdrawn and expired listings?

“Coming soon” marketing is often perfect for properties that have recently expired or been withdrawn. There’s typically a waiting period on the MLS before these listings will appear as new listings at first glance. For this reason, Fox usually advises these clients to wait before going to market.

Obviously, agents and savvy buyers can find out if a property was previously listed by looking at its pricing history, but this doesn’t have to throw a wrench in the works — if you handle the initial conversation well.

When buyers ask about the property’s history, focus on the good, not the bad.

Instead of going into detail on why a property didn’t sell before, Fox talks about all of the work they’re putting into the property during the pre-listing process. Also, and most importantly, he promises that they’ll be the first ones to see it.

Sending ‘coming soon’ mailers

You don’t just have to do “coming soon” signs. Fox also markets upcoming listings via direct mail. In Fox’s experience, mailers tend to generate much more interest than signs.

Here are a couple of tricks he uses to ensure that his “coming soon” mailers get opened and read, not tossed directly into the garbage:

  • Don’t make it look like business mail: Unless the person receiving your mailer is actively looking to buy a home right now, hinting at what’s inside the envelope isn’t going to do you any favors. Fox opts for a black envelope with no logos. For the return address, he writes out the seller’s home address with a gel pen. To the unsuspecting eye, it looks more like a wedding invitation than business mail.
  • Focus on the P.S. section: Obviously, a well-written body for your mailer is a must, but a decent percentage of people aren’t going to read it anyway — at least not at first. What people tend to do with letters like these is scan through them quickly. Because of this, Fox now includes an eye-catching P.S. section at the end of his mailers. This has helped him increase his response rate as these sections capture readers’ attention, which boosts their chances of reaching out.

For more information on “coming soon” strategies and additional tips on marketing pre-listings by mail, listen to the complete podcast with Dustin Fox.

Pat Hiban sold more than 7,000 homes over the course of his 25-year career in real estate. Now, he dedicates his time to helping others succeed as agents and investors. As host of the Real Estate Rockstars Podcast, Pat interviews real estate experts to explore what works in today’s markets. He also founded Rebus University, an online training platform for real estate agents and sales professionals.

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