Good agents and how they conduct their business

I just received a call from John.  John is an excellent agent in that he is low key, no pressure, but very attentive to his client’s needs.  I met John at an Open House at 6806 27th Ave in Bryant.  John was out with his soon to be owner/seller, checking out the competition before pricing and listing his client’s home.

It is very considerate when an agent does this at an Open House, and does not make “an appointment” causing the owner to think it is a buyer coming.  Often owners get angry when an agent calls to “show” and then spend hours cleaning, only to find it is a “preview” by an agent using the property to gauge the pricing for another and competing seller.  Attending the Broker’s Open or a Sunday Open is the correct way to canvass an area to accurately price your next listing.

I just received a call from John.  He was giving me a “heads up” that his new listing at 3165 NE 82nd Street in Wedgwood would be coming on market tomorrow.  What a “good agent” to realize that someone listing a house in a similar price range might have potential buyers for his new listing.  What a “good agent” to take the extra step of remembering all of the agents he met at the Open Houses while canvassing the area to determine the price for his new listing.

We don’t talk about “good agents” enough, so if you happen to stop by the Sunday Open House or the Wednesday Broker’s Open of John’s new listing at 3165 NE 82nd Street, shake his hand for me and say “pleased to meet a good agent” 🙂   I’m doing my own Open House on Sunday, but I’m going to try to stop by on Wednesday.

Honestly, good agents are worth their weight in gold, and knowing who is who in this business is a huge part of what we do for our clients.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

32 thoughts on “Good agents and how they conduct their business

  1. Ardell, there are a lot of reasons for agents to preview. Previewing is part of the job, and if an agent cannot make a brokers open schedule, they certainly should not hesitate to preview other times.

    I want agents to feel they can preview or show my listings at any time that works for them, and coach my sellers to expect agents to be coming in daily between 10 am and 8 pm. I ask agents to call and leave a quick message, then go, unless I have a seller with a health situation or young children. Even my sellers who work at home are expected to allow showings with very little notice — it’s in THEIR best interest after all :-).

    The house/condo is the “product”, and just like the sweater on sale at Nordstrom, if it isn’t available at the spur of the moment, the buyer may not return.

  2. Leanne,

    How can an agent who is previewing tell if the family has small children and the Mom is cleaning up a storm and telling them not to play with their toys, etc…for a preview?

    With properties staying on market longer, we have to be more considerate of people. Keeping a house perfect for weeks and weeks with small children afoot is agonizing for many Moms.

  3. Leanne, I agree that an agent should preview even if it does not fit the broker’s open schedule. But I think a “good agent” should have the courtesy to tell the seller, directly or via voice mail, that they are JUST previewing, and please don’t go to any trouble. They can also offer to let the seller stay at home while they preview, making it much less of an inconvenience.

    If I have a Buyer for a property I am not going to wait days to preview it in hopes that it will still be available just to accommodate a brokers open schedule. That would not fit my definition of “a good agent”. To some extent that goes for previewing and canvasing an area for new listing pricing as well. I’m not going to have my sellers listing timeline dictated by my unwillingness to “inconvenience” another seller to view their property. If it’s an inconvenient time, they should tell me when I call. I will be happy to work around their schedule. Seller’s need to know that this is likely to happen. And “a good agent” will explain that so that the sellers expectations regarding their lifestyle intereuptions are realistic.

    As far as children go, especially sleeping infants, thats what Agent Remarks are for. “Good agents” should use them.

  4. One thing is to make sure a seller knows what the term “preview” means. Otherwise they won’t know what to expect.

    But I sort of disagree about not needing to clean up if it’s just a preview. If it’s messy the agent might not be as impressed, just as a client might not be as impressed. And that means they might not come back with clients.

  5. "But I sort of disagree about not needing to clean up if it’s just a preview."

    I see what you mean, Kary. But an agent shouldn’t tell the Seller “not to go to any trouble” if they are the type of agent to be affected by this. Typically the real-world scenario happens something like this: I call an owner-occupy Seller to preview their home, clarify I am previewing, and catch them off-guard. They say, "Ohh, the kids have been playing and the house is a mess right now. Do you still want to come by?" That’s when the agent should either offer to come at a more convenient time, or let them know that its okay and they need not bother to pick the place up. Ardell’s right that some Sellers are going to be irritated if they think the agent is not taking their circumstances into account and realizing how this disrupts their lives.

    Renters are a whole different story…..:-)

  6. Ardell, the listing agent comment section should give pertinent data for agents, ie, if seller needs an hour notice due to kids etc.

    I really like the listings that say, “if no answer, go show”. In fact, I encourage my sellers to say on their answering machine “if you are an agent, please feel free to show anytime between 10 am – 8 pm” or sometimes 6 pm if they have kids and such.

    Listing agents must set sellers expectations on showings and previewings. Too often sellers think they can just ask agents to show at a different time — and that’s not the case. The time the buyer wants to see the place is critical, since they may not be able to come a different time. Selling is a job that requires a selling attitude …

    Really, the bottom line is that sellers need to be “ready” all the time. A little mess here and there is going to happen, that’s life, and I think we can all roll with that. But, if the basic condition of the lifestyle of the household means they need to clean for 3 hours or more before a showing … they are really “ready” ….

  7. I guess the real question here is how ethical is it to disturb an owner of a home just to view it to price a neighbor’s home? Most owners hand me cards and say “this guy just came in but obviously just to price that new listing around the corner.” It would appear that the owner who is being “used” in that manner feels differently than agents do on this topic. Especially if they have woken up the kids from a nap and driven around the block a hundred times waiting for “the showing” to be over.

    Having your home for sale does not mean it is Open House any day for agents who just want to see it for a reason other than for a buyer client.

  8. Ethical? Ardell, it is our JOB to preview homes in order to help price another. Yes, experienced agents can price homes without actually going inside other homes, but even today, I often check out a few just to confirm the reality.

    And, no agent I know would be in a house they were previewing for more than 5 minutes tops … often when I am previewing, I want to zip in and out, and the seller is the one slowing me down.

    For me, when previewing, I encourage sellers to stay home – I tell them ‘it’s just me, you don’t need to leave unless I bring a client with me, so don’t worry’.

    And yes, having your home for sale means it is inconvenient and you do need to expect agents in to see it for all sorts of reasons.

  9. I’m with Leanne on this one. In fact, by previewing the neighboring house, you have a better grasp on the inventory and may actually sell it! (before or after yours sells).

    When I have a listing, I want to get as many agents through it as I can. Helps it get sold! In fact, nothing is more discouraging to a seller than to get few showings and previews.

    Agents should always be as courteous as possible and respect showing comments.

  10. Greg and Leanne,

    All I ask is that agents look at this from the perspective of the person who is trying to live in their home. Send their children to school each morning. Give them three meals a day and let them take a nap.

    With Days On Market Doubling in King County, people needing to live their lives while their home is on market, is more important than ever.

    There was a time when a family could go away for a weekend and come home to 3 contracts. But today families can’t as readily buy before selling, and they can’t as readily sell very quickly.

    I’m just saying HEY! It’s not business as usual in this slowing market. More consideration must be given to families, and expecting them to always be perfectly ready with 30 minutes notice over weeks and months is just not realistic.

    It really isn’t all about what the agent needs to do to “preview” for a purpose other than selling that owners’s house. Sure, a new agent should see lots of houses to get to know the market, all agents should. But at least tell the owner what you are up to, so they can decide how much to disrupt their life and their family on your behalf.

    Owners often run home at lunchtime to clean when they get a “call to show”. Owners often pull their little babies out of bed at naptime and drive around the block many times, so you can “show”. Just be aware that it is someone’s home, and not just a product for sale.

    I haven’t brought this up in the 2 1/2 years that I have been blogging. But time on market is lengthening, and we need to lower our expectations of people not being able to live without a glass in their own sink, day and and day out, for weeks at a time.

    Listing Agents instruct their sellers NOT to be home during a showing. So when you call to see a house just so you can be a better agent for someone else, at least recognize the inconvenience of the homeowner. Their home is on the market to be sold, not to educate agents. It’s not an open classroom experience. Treat it as such. That’s all I ask.

    The arrogance of agents who say “but I have to see this for my own purpose” is really what makes people not like us so much, at times. We really need to be more considerate of “them” and less worried about what “we” need, day in and day out.

    Be honest. Say, “Can I come by so I can price the house down the street? Seeing your house will help me better price your neighbor’s house.” Let the owner decide if that is reasonable or not. Don’t just assume that it IS reasonable.

  11. I’m going to take the middle road here, and say you need to use extreme caution. Obviously if it seems like an inconvenience, don’t go in.

    But also don’t forget, it’s possible you might actually find a buyer for that property if you’re marketing similar property, and even more possible you might provide some valuable feedbad if the agent asks for it.

  12. Ardell, a seller simply has to realize there are going to be times where it is inconvenient to have their home on the market. Pricing well in the first place will definitely help keep the home on market a shorter time period. A seller should look at having their home for sale as a “second job”, one with obligations, and one of those obligations is allowing real estate agents to see the home.

    It’s not unreasonable for someone with kids to have the listing agent say in the listing that seller needs a 1-hour notice. Some situations require an appointment only method, perhaps the seller is handicapped or elderly. Agents just need to post the info, so other agents know what is necessary.

    I realize that people with kids have a harder situation, but I can’t just stop looking at houses with kids :-). And, if an agent is simply previewing, I don’t know why anyone would ask a seller to leave. Perhaps if agents were better at coaching their sellers as to what to expect, things would work better.

    I had a listing in Shoreline that we put on the market in March. There was a 3 year old, and a baby. We made that house shine before listing, priced it well from day 1, and sent the family up to their sisters home for the first 5 days. Inconvenient, but we all know the highest traffic is in the first week, and that was true here.

    The house sold in less than a month, and life went back to normal for the family. I told them when we listed that if an agent wants to preview, let them come, no matter if baby is napping, no matter if lunch is happening.

    A previewing agent is in a hurry, and just wants to run in and out, no need for family to stop doing what they need to do for a previewing agent.

    The only time my seller asked an agent not to come, was when the entire family had the flu. I always am quite relieved when someone tells me not to come, they are sick :-), who wants to catch the flu ?!

  13. I just scheduled 5 previews for Monday morning. I have a transferee client coming to town and I want to see the homes before I bring my client inside.

    I am always honest and say it’s an agent preview – no need to leave or even clean for me. I did tell the agents when the real showings would occur. This way their seller has plenty of time to prepare for the buyer showing.

    Honesty, why is it so hard for some people?

  14. Sherry,

    I don’t think anyone minds when agents are honest as you were. The angrier ones are when they find out the agent was there with a seller to price a competing property soon to come on market.

    It is very hard to keep a property in perfect showing condition. We shouldn’t act like it is easy.

  15. I want to add, that as a seller with an infant (and dog), I really appreciate Ardell’s approach to this. I’m also totally willing to accomodate an agent, even one for a competitive pricing.

    WIth property times on market extending will past 30 days in most cases, showing a property under these conditions is almost like a full time job. In fact, I’d argue that the scarcity of buyers is a triple whammy. First, time on market is much longer, and being constantly show-ready gets old. Second, with all of the inventory, a seller REALLY needs to stay on top of staging and meticulous cleaning to stand out from the competition. No more assuming the buyer will “look past” the fact that there are pacifiers laying about or that the baby’s room smells like musty diapers. Third, a seller that is serious about selling really will do everything in their power to entertain a showing. Sellers no longer have the luxury of saying “come back at a better time….” because chances are, the buyers won’t come back at all.

    All that said, I’m STILL willing to entertain agents for previewing only. In 90%+ of the cases, agents are courteous and will say “agent previewing only”. I’d guess that all those agents who are disagreeing with Ardell are also agents who are courteous and so the comments don’t apply to you. It’s the other 10% (maybe less?). The ones that call at 8:30 pm at night and say, “hey, I’ve got an interested client in seeing your property, can we see it at OUR convenience?”.(meanwhile, hurry up and wake the baby..who is now screaming, take the dirty diapers out to the car…scramble, clean, ect) ..only to find out that by “interested client”, they really meant “interested in selling their own property, not interested in buying yours.”

  16. Ardell, I understand your take on this topic…but for me…well, if any of you ever want to look at any of my listings, any time…please feel free! You never know when a “just previewing for an upcoming listing” can turn into a “hey, maybe I do have a buyer for this place.” I just want agents inside my listings to see my inventory. In fact I’ve been giving a $5 Starbucks gift card to any agent who darkens our doorways, previewing, showing, or just stopping by to say hi!

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