Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Ok... so I'm on a rant and boy this one has simply really got my goat!

My wife and I have been in this great industry for over two decades. We, like many of those of us who are seasoned professionals, pride ourselves in how we manage our business and how we respond to one another in our profession.  We respect our clients property and offer the most up-to-date methods of securing ingress/egress to the property.

  1. We ANSWER our phone
  2. We RETURN our eMail messages
  3. We use a secure SUPRA KEY Lock Box ingress/egress system
  4. We DO NOT place our clients property at risk with unsecure mechanical lock boxes
  5. We RETURN our text messages
  6. We publish our cell phone numbers in our MLS listings

We make it nearly impossible for anyone to ever say that they couldn't get in touch with us. We maintain between 20 and 30 listings at any given point in time and all of our listings have all of our methods of contact such as cell phone, fax, office phone, text message and eMail. We know everything about our listings. If the listing is a short sale, we know who the lien holders are and we know how many lien holders are involved; we know who the negotiators are; we have points of contact for each lien holder negotiator; such as eMail, fax, phone and supervisors name and points of contact. We know if the properties utilities are active.

If the property is not a distressed listing, I.E. owned by some seller who simply wants to sell their home to move up or move down in size or for any number of normal, and some time abnormal, reasons, we know everything there is to know about that property. We know that one of the best ways to get another REALTOR® to show the property is if he or she has as much Intel as possible, and... can get that Intel from a real live person.


Now, contrast that with many, if not most, REO Secret Agents who handle REO properties. These agents make it extremely difficult to show properties. Many of them don't use any form of secure ingress/egress control, I.E. a secure SUPRA Lock Box system. There is no way that these agents can protect their client's property without a secure and accountable method of monitoring who has entered the property. IMO, these less than professional acts of inexcusable lacks of professionalism show a total disrespect for their client's property.

My favorite all time reason that I hear REO agents use for not putting a secure SUPRA lock box system on the property is, "it's too expensive".

  1. Do you really feel you have a right to not offer your client the most complete and competent protection of their property?
  2. Do you not feel your client would like to be able to tell the police, in the event of a break-in and/or the property being vandalized... who the last persons were who entered the property?
  3. Do you not think your client would like, at the very least, a small chance of seeing justice done to those who would destroy their property?
  4. Do you not think it appropriate to hold real estate agents who are inattentive to their tasks to re-secure a property rafter showing, to be held accountable?
  5. What in the world are you thinking? And... what in the world would your client think if you said, "I can't really afford to secure your property with a secure SUPRA lock box system, you'll simply have to deal with the consequences of not knowing who has entered your property last".


Try calling a REO listing. If you're lucky, you might get a recorded message that says something like, "If you see a listing that is showing ACTIVE and not under contract, that is accurate information, our listing are updated every day". Yeah, right! But that does not include updating their listings over the weekend. Oh here's a bute... you call on Friday afternoon, about 7pm so you can vet the list of homes you're going to show tomorrow. You begin to make phone calls to vet the availability of the home and you get this: "Our office is closed for the weekend. Please call back Monday between the hours of 8am and 5pm."  Or my favorite, "Hello, you have reached Agent Brown. I am sorry I can't take your call at the moment. I return my calls between 2pm and 5pm Monday through Friday. If you have called after 5pm, please try to reach me the following day after 8am. If you have called me on the weekend, I will return your call the next business day. Please leave a message".  Like heck I will!!! If you want my client's business, you should have answered your phone or at the very least, answered the voice mail message I left you.


Would someone kindly let me know why any asset manager would want to hire a real estate agent or even better, an entire team of real estate agents who will not give the property the proper attention it deserves? Is there an asset manager out there who can explain why you would not want your property protected by a secure Ingress/Egress verifiable lock box system? Is there an asset manager out there who can explain why you insist on hiring real estate agents who are, well... Secret Sgents? That is to say, why don't you want the agent or team of agents, you hired to answerer their phone in response to a buyer or buyer agent? Do asset managers simply have a death wish for the property they represent? Do asset managers find wisdom in conducing business with real estate agents who do not have the best interest of their client at the forefront?

I just don't get it!

I could go on and on about the most unprofessional niche of our industry, the REO listing agent.

Now, don't misunderstand, there are some GREAT REO listing agents. They secure homes properly, they have a team of agents who really answer their phones or if they are lone wolfs, they answer their own phone. But... sadly, this gallant and noble group of REO listing agents is but fraction of an infinitely small fraction of REO agents and agent teams who manage and list REOs. To this truly noble group; Congratulations on a Job Well Done. This very small microcosm of REO listing agents even knows all about each listing. WoW! That's simply refreshing.

But to the rest of you... get the heck out of the kitchen if you can't stand the heat. You, who match up to my comments in the beginning of this post, do not belong in the REO business. GET OUT and get a 9 to 5 job... or... do the job the asset manager hired you to do, in a dignified and respectable and professional fashion.

  1. Answer your phone!
  2. Properly secure the property!
  3. List your cell phone or the cell phone of an "On-Call" team member!
  4. Return your voice mail messages!
  5. Return your eMail messages
  6. Return your text messages!

And... participate in our industry as professional agents, not "Secret Agents"

G-II Varrato II is a licensed REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. You can reach G-II (G2) at 602-796-5674 or by eMail at


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Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

You, my friend, are the "LOL of the DAY" . . .

Great post, and WHAT a perfect subject "useless as feathers on a lizard."  OMIGOSH -- LOL.

REO agents are NOT a LOL matter, however, so your point is well taken.  But you still get the "LOL of the Day" spot.

(I started a new GROUP . . . approrpriately named: LOL of the Day" if anyone wants to join, please do!  Contribute your personal LOL of the Day -- could be an entire blog, a comment on a blog that made you bust a gut . . . whatever!)

A tip of the hat to you, G-II


Apr 20, 2009 07:34 AM #58
Christianne O'Malley
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Reno, NV
Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno!

Wow - That was one heck of a post. I represent REO properties and I can tell you - you would never have those problems with me. Perhaps it opens up a marketing niche for you? It sounds like the competition wouldn't be too tough to beat. That's how I got in. I always have a Supra Box on every one of my listings - even though my MLS requires it now, I did it before they required it. I answer my phone, texts, emails, and everything else usually within hours but definitely every day. The sun does not set on a return phone call or email for me.

I have dealt with agents like you described, and I took that as an opportunity to get involved and help the banks because the sooner we work through these, the sooner our economy and our markets will rebound as a whole.

Apr 20, 2009 07:36 AM #59
Tina M. Atilho
William Raveis Real Estate - Milford, CT

I totally agree with your post.  It is very frustrating showing REO properties. 


I wish the REO agents would get a secret shopper to report back to the bank as to how the agent handled their properties.  That would be an interesting report to read!

Apr 20, 2009 08:09 AM #60

WOW!! That about covers it from your side. How about from my side? I list REO properties and I am tired of agents calling me at all hours with stupid questions. Yes, I do answer ALL phone calls and put the Supra key lock box in place. The bank requires the combo lock box. Seems they would like access also. Call them silly but it is their property. My properites are cleaned and well maintained. They are checked on frequently . I dare you to try this job for a week. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Think you can do a better job?.... Have at it!!

Apr 20, 2009 08:40 AM #61

No disrespect intended to our REO agents, but please be considerate to your fellow Realtors.  Us, selling agents are trying to do our jobs:  Sell the REO agents' listings without harming our clients in the process. 

Courtesy phone calls seem to have become a thing of the past let alone answering the phone and answering nicely and professionally.

Many REO agents might feel that we (who are not REO agents) are making these comments because we would like to have your listings; yet that is not the case: all we ask for is for these REO agents to respond to our requests and be so kind to answer your phone.


Apr 20, 2009 09:58 AM #62
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

G-II, I'm very fortunate that the largest REO agent in my area is very good. He carries about 500 listings but has a great team that works with him. I can send an email to check status and get a response within minutes. All of his properties have also been professionally cleaned. because of the way he conducts his business I love selling his listings. Then we have some newbie REO agents that really suck,

Apr 20, 2009 10:03 AM #63
Mark Watterson
Salt Lake City, UT
Utah Real Estate

That is the best heading. lol...... REO agents as a whole are real pains.  Ever now a again I get to deal with one that does their job.  It's just so rare.

Apr 20, 2009 10:36 AM #64
Intown Atlanta

Typically I dread working on REOs because the listing agents are so difficult to get on the phone.  I will say that I just finished two REO sales and the agents were really responsive -- maybe the times are changing?  I can only hope!  :-) 

Apr 20, 2009 02:37 PM #65
Sandy Childs
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Realtor - Spartanburg, SC

Your title is very clever and just plain cute ~ it grabbed my attention. I agree with your content.

I can give you another one to add to your list. There is a REO agent in Spartanburg, SC who just gives out the combo code to potential buyers, does not even go to the property to open the door.

Apr 20, 2009 03:07 PM #66
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Nest Atlanta Team - Atlanta, GA
Your Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

LOL - Love your title!  Now that more and more real estate agents are shifting their focus to distressed properties, I'm hoping that the attitudes and response times will improve.

Apr 20, 2009 03:20 PM #68
Regina P. Brown
California Coast & Country Homes, Inc. - San Luis Obispo, CA
e-Pro Realtor

I thought you were going to say they are "useless as a lizard".  Well, that's probably true also...  Unfortunately I've had multiple run-ins with these mega-REO agents who apparently don't do any work.  Are the banks paying them such a low commission that they don't want to spend any time marketing the property?  In any case, I agree with you 100% -- it's bad business and it ruins the professionalism of our industry.

Apr 20, 2009 04:44 PM #69
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Ding Ding Ding.... Great Post...

I think agents should use a Realtor Lockbox on ALL listings... I hate see a combo lock box on a home. Usually these are the agents who won't answer the phone too.

I currently have one REO listing.. Yes I know they have their 4 digit code they like to have on a combo lockbox. I explained to them the reason I wanted to use my Sentri Lockbox and they actually agreed with me. They did ask it I can program their code and of course I can. Well.. it will be one additional didgit in the beginning..

Now if they really want this typ box so they can get in.. Use two boxes... I want ALL Agents to use my Sentri Lockbox so we can record their entry. This is not possible with the combo box.  One good reason is this.... Even with the Sentri Lockbox they sent a REO Appraiser out.. Later that day the back door was discovered to be left open... We know who was there last....Yes.. the appraiser.

Apr 20, 2009 05:02 PM #70
Property Tax Experts
Property Tax Experts - Southfield, MI

I would be curious as to the double dips REO agents have compared to traditional non REO agents. I understand it is competitive but 2 all cash deals above asking in the last 2 months did not even ask for highest and best. I think a lot of it is laziness but also greed as well..


Apr 20, 2009 06:00 PM #71
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

 The number gripe has to be not answering your phone.  Sometimes tenacity pays off, but the lack of courtesy can stick in ones throat like a furball.

Apr 20, 2009 10:13 PM #72
Ryan Hartman
ReTechulous, LLC - York, PA

True all around...but if you're an agent just starting out and want tons of buyer leads that no one will claim....Find your nearest REO Broker and have his not-so-sloppy seconds for lunch.

Always a silver lining right?

And of course, the order taking REO guys will soon be supplanted by those of us start enough to start building some google cred for the search terms "InsertYourCityHere REO" :)

Cool post, hit home...

Apr 21, 2009 01:17 AM #73
Kathy Baker, GRI Tennessee Realtor
Realty 1 - Jamestown, TN

Hi G,

Right you are, there are some really bad agents out there, not just REO types.

I recall years ago, 2005 or 2006, I contacted an agent to show his listing to my buyers. This guy was a total incompetant. He would not return my calls, had inaccurate information on MLS, made inaccurate statements regarding the property and let's forget about the lockbox. What a fiasco! My clients made an offer and the listing agent botched the entire deal. My clients walked away shaking their heads, frankly, so did I.

Kathy B

Apr 21, 2009 04:16 AM #74
Mike Mote
CDM Property Preservation - Brea, CA

Southern California's professional Property Preservation company.



Apr 29, 2009 07:09 AM #75
Gina Montez
Butler Mohr GMAC Real Estate - Defiance, OH

After reading your blog and the comments, I'm disturbed because so many people form opinions of REO agents and don't have a clue as to what protocol we have to follow as dictated by the Asset companies and Lenders who make the rules. In order to get listings we must follow their guidelines and when I have tried putting the Sentrilocks on the listings, they make me take them off because they have people other than me that they hire to go in to the house, such as appraisers, preservation companies and sometimes they inspect the properties themselves. They want to be sure that they have access to the properties that they own. I am sorry that apparently many REO agents across the country are not offering their sellers good service. Many of them have bitten off more than they can chew right, but as long as they are moving the properties and the asset company doesn't catch them doing them wrong, they will remain in business. I'm just sorry that so many agents that apparently don't know how hard some of us work to get the job done right have written such demeaning blogs about REO agents. I work hard to maintain a good reputation and have represented my REO sellers with pride.

Apr 29, 2009 12:48 PM #76
Sarah ds
Baldwin Park, CA

Forensic Loan Audit Software and Training Guide only $49

May 16, 2009 05:56 AM #77
Emmaniece Gordon
Dekka Realty - Fort Meade, MD
PSC, CDPE, Realtors, Local Real Estate Expert, Mar

Great post! However, I'm sorry to say that these problems are not just relating to REO agents, I get the same lack of professionalism from non-REO agents as well.

Jun 29, 2009 08:58 AM #78
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