It's probably best you start by reading this (including the comments at the bottom): http://www.inman.com/next/the-latest-real-estate-curve-ball-coming-soon-listings-present-opportunity/2/
OK, all set? Here goes:
1. It takes day's worth of admin to get a property listed online.
2. That means potential buyers are being deprived of having the right information at the right time.
3. Real Estate Listings in the US tend to be in a pool where other agents/brokers can see your stock and share the commission. These pools are membership clubs called MLS.
4. The problem is there are many, many of these MLS, and they aren't consumer-friendly.
5. The 'new guard' of Zillow and Trulia are seen to be more 'open' - which is good and bad, depending on who you ask.
6. Zillow, the current listings leader in the US, is cleverly dis-intermediating the dated MLS clubs, with features like 'Coming Soon'.
7. Cue horror from Realtors who've spent time (study, exam) and money (membership to MLS) to get inside the walled garden of money printing.
8. But not all Realtors do make money. Some make easy money (thanks to MLS). Many make lots of money (because they're entrepreneurs, see themselves as marketeers and get sh*t done).
9. So, does Zillow and features like 'Coming Soon' make for a better world, or worse?
At first glance: who the hell cares. Such a niche feature really isn't doing that much for either side.
But what is interesting is this:
What if anybody could post a 'Coming Soon' in the form of a tweet. Buyers looking for say a 3 bed house in Virginia would get an alert and could contact the poster from their cellphone. No trawling listings sites. No lengthy wait times. Just people with property, and people who want that property, being quickly connected.
This isn't what Zillow is doing, but such a paradigm shift could be as poignant as the difference between sending an email (easily ignored, part of the noise) and sending a text/SMS (immediate, simple, actionable).
Read more here, from a 'Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate' (CAARE): http://www.inman.com/2014/06/24/consumer-advocacy-group-weighs-in-against-zillows-coming-soon-feature/