A communication problem with our realtor

JtorelJanuary 25, 2011

When we listed our home 2 months ago, we made clear to the realtors we interviewed that we would only be able to show the house on 24 hours notice. With kids, grandma's visiting nurse days, and a home business to run, there was no way around that.

A couple of them wouldn't take the listing - and that was fine, because we either wanted someone who could work with our limitations, or we were not going to list.

The third realtor we talked to insisted that 24 hours notice was " no issue at all". She handles a lot of properties like that, and thinks that most of the last minute showings are "just looky-loos" anyway. We went ahead and signed a 4 month contract with her, stipulating in writing that the house would only be shown with 24 hours notice.

Well, despite having reminded her several times since then, we continue to get calls from realtors who want to come by in half an hour. One lady called us as she was pulling into our driveway with a client... Since the nurse was giving grandma her bath, we had to tell her "sorry, we need to set up an appointment."

Our realtor has been no help, telling us that she has no control over other realtors scheduling habits. We're seriously thinking about firing her, since either she isn't communicating effectively with the other realtors, or else she told us there would be no problem just to get us signed up when we still on the fence.

We're just wondering if anyone else has run into this?

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i'd have to be on your realtor's side on this one. No one can *force* you to open your door to an unscheduled visit from prospective buyers without 24hr notice, and there is little she can do to stop buyers agents from trying to get a client into see a place they are interested in.

I've bought a sold a few homes, and as a seller although i would prefer as much notice as possible (24hrs would be great), as a buyer I had limited availability to view homes and if I saw something I wanted to see, or while i was out looking at homes I saw one in the neighborhood w/ a sale sign in the yard that I wanted to look at, I would have my agent try to get me in the door then and there.

Most homes, although requesting a 24hr notice, would let us in. Those homes that didn't, I rarely went back to see them (and of those I saw I didn't buy).

The market varies region to region, but generally speaking right now it's a buyer's market and a seller would have to be a fool to turn an interested and motivated buyer away.

In the case of grandma's health care, personally I would have given the buyers the choice of scheduling an appt for another time, or allowed them in but restricting their access to the home (e.g., not allowed in the master suite or not allowed in the basement). The limited view of the layout of the home and the kitchen, etc might give them enough of an idea right then of whether the place goes on their short list or not.

Selling is never any fun. It's inconvenient and stressful. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Why are the buying realtor's calling you directly at all? I've sold several houses in my life and never had a buyer's agent call me directly for a showing.

Nowadays (the last couple of times we listed) our agent has used a showing service. Agents wanting to show call that service who calls us for showings that are within our parameters.

Before that, calls would go to our agent.

It is true that your agent has no control over agents calling and asking to show on short notice but she certainly does have control over the number given to agents to schedule showings. Is she giving them your number for showings to be scheduled?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Yes, our agent put our number in the listings and does not handle any calls from the other agents herself. I have never seen it done this way either.

The thing we are unhappy about is that we did not want to list if it was not made clear we would only show given notice. We knew what our limitations were. As I said, 2 other realtors told us they didn't want the listing under those terms - they thought it would be better to wait until grandma could be moved out, at least.

This lady told us that notice was no issue and that realtors could read the notice she put in the listing.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Why can't you just tell her to take your number OFF the listing? Then SHE can do what you've asked of her.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 11:58PM
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I agree with redcurls. Why isn't she taking the calls from the other realtors, talking to them and trying to sell them on making an appointment? At least that way she could let them know that last minute appointments are going to be a problem. You pay her to SELL your home, not list it with your phone number and let you deal with it.

I cannot know without being there, but it sounds like she is asking you to pay her a commission just to put up a sign (did she even do that?) and put you on the MLS. There are places that will do that for $200, if that is all the effort you want.

I'd talk to her broker soon.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 2:06AM
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She should be taking the calls and as part of the screening process telling the other realtor that there is a 24 hour notice requirement. If she thinks something is really urgent (maybe someone is only in town for the day) she can call you and you can decide if you want to waive the notice, but it would be far fewer calls than what you are handling now, I imagine.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 12:31PM
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I'd probably let them in with the exception of the rooms where your grandma is. At least they can see if they like most of the house and you wouldn't be missing out on potential buyers.

At my last house, both the realtor's number and my cell phone were in the listing since I am a SAHM. I did receive calls from the buyers agent to let me know when they were coming. We sold so quick that it was never an inconvenience. I was actually never home when I got the calls.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 2:53PM
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I didn't realize the buyers were calling the OP directly to see the house.

I agree with what others have said--it's your agent's JOB (or that of her office) to field those calls and schedule the showings. You shouldn't be called by ANYONE except your agent or her representative.

My opinion still stands on the need to be flexible in regards to short-notice showings (and it's not your realtor's fault that others want to ask to be let in without that notice), but it IS her fault that she's letting you do the work that she will be making a commission for. (that and I value my privacy and would never want any old prospective buyer or agent to have my personal contact information)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 5:11PM
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In my area it is common for the seller's phone number to be listed as the "phone to show" number. These are for listings where a home has a keybox and can be showed with little to no notice, ie., the sellers work during the day, so an agent just needs to call and either talk to the seller or leave them a message that they will be showing the home between X:00 and Y:00. In an appointment only situation, oftentimes the agent's number is listed and all appointments need to be made through the agent. It sounds as if this is what possibly needs to be done in your case. Or perhaps your agent needs to add in the remarks to other agents on the listing something like "24 hours notice REQUIRED to show". When agents call and want an earlier showing, you just need to be firm and tell them that you require 24 hours notice for an appointment. It's okay to just say no.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 5:18PM
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Speaking from a potential seller, take your phone number off the list, talk to her broker, and go over your rules again, then look for a different agent. As to someone coming into the house while someone is attending a senior just to look around, I would say NO. Many seniors get extremly upset when they see or even know that strangers in "there" home and it does upset the routine, even with doors closed.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Your limitations as a seller are understandable, what with kids, home business and Grandma all needing to be factored into the situation as you try to sell your home. As someone who was there once-upon-a-time, with my office in the attic and my fuzzy-minded Mum just waiting for an opportunity to sneak past an unlocked door and hitch a ride to 'Mexico', I certainly get it. But I wonder if you won't feel differently about the conditions you're setting on showings once your house has been on the market for 10 months, instead of two.

I think it would help you greatly to put yourself in the buyer's place (and everyone who's trying to sell a house was once there)and try to see how many potential buyers you're discouraging with these policies on showings. For instance, when we were looking to buy a house a decade ago there was some urgency and a lot of messy logistics we had to work around because my husband had started a new job and my daughter and I were living by ourselves 150 miles away. I'd managed to sell our home in the old town much more quickly than expected, and we had a deadline to be out. Also, Husband was desperate to get out of the weekly residential bachelor pad he was staying in. Every weekend I packed up my kid, boarded the dog, and roared up the freeway to the new town where I picked up Hubby and we jumped in the Realtor's car. Then began 48 madcap hours driving all over a spawling metropolis looking for something we liked, could afford, had great schools, wasn't next door to a Superfund cleanup site, etc. etc. It was NOT the way to find your Dream Home, but that's how lots of Americans end up doing it. While on our Property Jaunts, if we ended up going to see a house in a n'hood we really liked (and which had good schools -- a critical need), but we didn't like the house, we might yell out if we saw a For Sale sign down the block in front of a neat-looking house. Our agent would call up the LA, she might say 'Come back in an hour,' we'd go see the next one on the list and come back, having given the owner time to take out the garbage and walk next door. But I can't remember a single house whose owners turned us away with a '24 hour notice required' that we ever went back to see. In the 1st place, we'd be miles away in 24 hours, back to our old town, and in the 2nd place, why would we trudge all the way back to see one property when there were so many other homes available and open for showings?

By the way, we found a good house, and were relieved to sell it last year when we downsized. But after all the marketing and Open Housing and newspaper advertising that went into that process, how did the buyers find it? They didn't have an agent, but found the listing on the web. The family drove by to see the house, and noticed my agent outside pruning my shrubs!! (Now that's the kind of REA you want...) They asked her to see it and went straight inside, no appointment required. It doesn't always happen like that, of course, and you may be lucky with a well-planned showing. But you might sell faster if you think about the ways you could make it easier for buyers to see your place, not more difficult.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 6:34PM
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Maybe it depends on your area or type of house. When we were showing last summer/fall we had no real restrictions on showing, just had to be informed by the showing service.

The vast majority of all showings we had more than 12 hours notice, many had more than 24 hours. We did have a few with less notice but not many.

When we trying to buy a house last year, however, the vast majority of the sellers had 24 hour requirements and my agent told me that it is very, very common in our area.

There were only a few times that we turned down showings and in all but one time it was rescheduled. The exception was someone where they called at 9 to show at 10 and there just wasn't time to get ready.

That said, when we relist we will be putting a 12 hour notice, no showing before noon requirement. We have several dogs that are outside but plan to remove them from the property during showings and that is a big undertaking.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 10:41PM
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No, she doesn't have any control over the other realtor's calls, so if it bothers you to be fielding them, she might be wise to list her own number to field them for you. It obviously isn't enough for her to tell them you need 24 hour's notice and I would wonder if there isn't some sort of notation the other realtors receive from her agency where she could explain why and keep it relatively private so everyone browsing doesn't know your personal business.

Our area is not cosmopolitan, so I'd never heard of a showing service. When I have sold properties, our agent has always called us to enquire about showings, even if it was for an agent from a different agency. All the details were handled by my agent.

I have a home business as well. I had my mother here toward the end of her life and she had visiting nurses and home help too. And, I understand your parameters very well and I don't think I'd be happy with that set-up either. Would it cost a possible sale? Maybe. But that's your call. Have you asked your agent just to field your showings? It should be that simple. If she won't.......you have your answer.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 3:10AM
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Shenandoah states it well... in order to capture the absolute largest # of buyers, you have to remove all of the restrictions on showings. Shenandoah's story happens all the time. Prospects will call me in the morning and say they are in town for two or three days, and they need to look at properties. If, the property is difficult to fit into the day's schedule, it will be tossed away.
Put yourself in the buyer's shoes. They would rather see your home with Mum tucked away upstairs in her room, than have to try to fit it in thier schedule.
If you have a full service listing, then the agent needs to be taking all calls. I would love to have to call the "other side" just to make an appointment. Sellers and buyers just love to talk... The agent is not representing her client's fiduciary responsibilities if she is putting you up front to do all the "talking" with the other side. Hell, the other agent just might as well send you the offer and call you when it is time to negotiate.
Also, back to the phone thing... if you are slow to answer your calls, or if it goes to VM, you are losing showings there too.
Kats Meow, When you relisting? Our phones and inboxes have started to ring over the last two weeks, after being dead for two months. Might want to get out there early to beat the Spring rush of sellers.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 6:37AM
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Thanks everyone for the input. I spoke to her again yesterday, and she says "it is too much work" for her to deal with appointment calls. She says it just adds an extra layer of complication to have the other agents call her first, and then she has to call us...

Another agent called today and said there was "no statement in the listing regarding showings, just the number"

I think that settled it. Monday her broker will be back and I am going to call him.

BTW, we have offered to let people see the house in as little as 3 hours after a call, but there are some agents though that think they should be able to get in within the hour. No matter how clean the house might be, that just isn't enough time to prepare everything and everyone.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 6:53AM
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Thanks for your ideas.

We certainly understand what you are saying. But the fact is, we were actually thinking of NOT LISTING until we moved out because we thought this might be a problem. This agent convinced it would not be after 2 other places told us it would. Were we naive? Probably. But she is a professional, and we took her advice as such.

This is a full service realtor, not a discount place. (Actually, we used a discount place to sell our home last time, and got better service. But they have moved their offices to another town.)

In regards to phone calls and VM, that is a VERY good point. There is NO WAY we can answer every call immediately, so that is another thing I need to bring up with her. We really don't feel she is doing much to represent us.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 7:11AM
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If an agent told me it was too much trouble for her field calls for showings I would be looking at the listing agreement carefully to see if she was in breach of it. Or, is it possible you agreed to something that didn't put the responsibility for this on her? You need to look at your agreement.

I will say that in most areas (at least for houses like mine) the likelihood that someone would find my house will driving around looking at other houses and want to see it is very unlikely. With the ability to easily search listings on the internet when I was looking for a house last year I didn't ever find any that I didn't find on the internet first. I did see a few houses while I was out looking that weren't on my list but inevitably they weren't on my list because they didn't meet my criteria.

Kats Meow, When you relisting? Our phones and inboxes have started to ring over the last two weeks, after being dead for two months. Might want to get out there early to beat the Spring rush of sellers.

We plan to meet with a couple of agents next week. I am planning to relist the first week in March, although possibly could relist a little earlier. For houses like ours (5 bedrooms so mostly families) you tend to start getting a lot of traffic in mid-March.

The big issue we have to decide is how to handle our dogs. We have several large dogs and two indoor cats. Dogs are outdoors (staying in garage at night). For most of the time we were showing last year either DH or I lived at our other house with the dogs and cats so this house could be shown pet free. However, that is very difficult to sustain for a long time since we have kids. During late summer we moved back in here with pets for a couple of weeks and immediately got flack on showings. So DH moved back to the other house with the dogs and cats.

While the house has been off the market we are all here with pets. The easy thing is for DH to move back to other house with the pets when we go back on market. However, many houses in this area are taking as long as 2 to 3 years to sell (pricing low doesn't necessarily seem to speed this up). I'm just not prepared to have my husband live separate from us for that length of time.

We are considering putting in a showing time restriction (probably 12 hours, no showings before noon) and then just taking the dogs/cats and their paraphernalia to the other house whenever there is a showing so that people just don't see any evidence of pets. This is a big undertaking and would take a while to do hence the need for notice.

We don't like the idea of a showing restriction but think it hurts us more to have no restriction but have dogs on the property during showings.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:24PM
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Well, we did check our listing agreement. There is nothing in it that puts responsibility for phone calls with us. We also have the right to fire her if she is not meeting our expectations. So Monday we will call up her broker and tell him we want another agent who will actually do what we ask, or we are cancelling.

Kats_meow, I agree with you. Our house is on acreage in the country, down a private road. I don't think we get many "drive-bys". I think most of the agents are simply trying to fit us in last minute after showing their own listings. I know the last time we sold the realtor told us not to accept last minute showings unless everything was in order.

She said the word gets around, and the realtors won't say "They were nice to let us in without notice", but rather - "That house wasn't picked up, the people were still home," or whatever.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 11:21PM
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I will be listing my house this week, and I told my realtor I would need some notice (not more than 2 hours) for showings because I have a dog, and will need someone to take my dog out of the house during the showing.

My realtor said I will be getting a call from his office directly to my cell phone, and the office has to wait for confirmation. I work a lot of 12 hour days, so I will arrange for someone to come in.

I think it would be dangerous to receive the calls yourself. Anyone can claim to be a realtor and come in your house.

Also, 24 hours does seem excessive, couldn't you cut it down to 3 or 4?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:02AM
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I think it would be dangerous to receive the calls yourself. Anyone can claim to be a realtor and come in your house.

Actually, only agents who have a special key pad can access the lock box on your house. The electronic lock boxes record who has opend the box and when. They can also be set to limit the hours that the box can be opened. Also, at least in our area, the agents are the only ones with the phone numbers to call to set up appointments. The infomation sheets given to client's don't contain this info.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Discussed this issue with 24 hours notice with an agent yesterday. She says it is not an issue with houses priced on the higher end (say, the top 10%). She says that buyers in those price ranges tend to plan more and are more sophisticated and generally don't expect to see houses on the spur of the moment. Sure, it can happen but usually doesn't.

On the other hand with houses on the lower end, there are many more houses out there and a buyer on the way to see a particular house may see another and want to see it right then. For the higher end homes that is less likely to happen in part because there are fewer houses listed so the buyer is unlikely to suddenly see one that they didn't already know about.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 5:21PM
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Just a quick update. After we spoke with the broker, he offered to handle our home himself, and said there would no more calls to us. In less than a week, we had three showings with no problem at all on notice. And we have two more scheduled for next week.

After talking with us, he said we should NOT show the house on short notice unless we can get grandma out of the house for a car ride... says it is much worse to show an unprepared home - that agents don't want to bring clients into a mess if they don't have to. He also said he has never sold a home in our neighborhood where he did not have an appointment.

He told us the agent we had was "new" and that she "did not understand our situation (??!)". I guess he meant new to his office, because she is an experienced agent.

Anyway, we are pleased!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 3:51PM
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