Out-of-Area Agents - Let's Play by the Rules

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Working hand in hand with out-of-area agentsAs our market has shifted in the last several years, especially with more REOs and short sales, there has been an influx of out-of-area agents, especially on the listing side. 

This change has complicated the showing process from a Buyer Agent's (and buyers!) perspective, for a host of reasons - limited or inaccurate information, lockbox issues, poor communication, and so on. 

We really do want to help your sell your listings and work hand in hand with you, so here are some suggestions to improve the process. If everyone would play by the rules, life would be so much simpler.


If you list your property on our MLS (and you should so your clients gain from maximum exposure - having it listed only on your MLS could put your client at a disadvantage) it's a good idea to play by the rules, which may differ from your local MLS. Add the photos (it's required here) and make sure the information is accurate. Not seeing the house because you are 100 miles away is NOT an excuse. If you are listing the property, then do your job.


That's part of following the rules. Or at least use one we can gain access to. If it has to be a combo box let us know that it is (and tell us how to get the combo) rather than having us find out when we get to the home. 


If it's a short sale you are required to state so here. And you should for an REO also. And in our area when you have offers being reviewed by either the short sale or REO lenders you are required to indicate that, and use the Contingency Status. And when it goes Pending, change it ion the MLS. It's pretty annoying to make calls to try and show buyers property only to find out that you already have it in escrow. That's also playing by the rules, and a courtesy. 


This seems to be a problem these days with agents not returning calls or emails. It's often a big issue with out-of-area agents. Yeah, it may be a long distance call but that's your doing, not ours. If you are going to be the listing agent, then please help us by communicating so we can get the info we need or arrange to show the property. 


First of all it could be an ethics violation, depending. But it really does buyers and their agents a disservice. Calling a home "move in condition" when it is a pigsty is pretty darned annoying (and since you don't include any photos we can only rely on your remarks). Happens all the time. Or not correctly stating the rooms - had one recently where the agent claimed there was a family room plus a living room. Nope, Nada.  We know you may not bother to check the home out - it's pretty obvious from your written descriptions - but don't be deceptive. 

I know it can be hard managing a listing from a distance, but that's part of the job. We would appreciate you playing by the rules even though you are an out-of-area agent. If you can't, well, perhaps you shouldn't be listing in our area.


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Sandra White
John L Scott Real Estate - Port Townsend, WA
Experienced Residential Resale Broker

All good basic rules for any area's agents.  Another disturbing situation is limited representation listings, where no one answers for appointments, and no key or lock box.  Takes you back to the dark ages. 

Jan 30, 2010 08:54 AM #2
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

MIchelle - LOL. I called one agent who had commented about the beautilful home becucase my clinet was furious. The home was a disaster and the agent had celarly never stepped foot near it. I also had tpo let her know one of th patio doors was completely missing. So much for security.


Jan 30, 2010 08:55 AM #3
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Sandra - it does indeed. I always cringe when I see it's not a local agent.

But there have ben some really good ones, too. So it CAN be done well.


Jan 30, 2010 08:56 AM #4
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

The Code of Ethics was recently changed to state that agents should work with what they are familiar (i.e. don't do short sales if you don't understand the process.)  I extrapolate this new law to include out-of-area agents - it's not against the Code, but you do have to work extra hard to get it right. 

But from your comments on your post, some of these agents probably don't work very hard even if their listing is their next-door neighbor.

Jan 30, 2010 08:56 AM #5
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Margaret - well I suspect that's true. Some of our local agents do a great job, while others are rather sub-standard. The out-of-area agent often seems to make what can already be a difficult transaction that much tougher. Good to know about the COE - thanks for pointing this out.


Jan 30, 2010 09:49 AM #6
Julie Dumaine-Russell
RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT

Jeff - There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with agents out of the area and even local agents when it comes to short sales and REO properties.  One photo, very limited information if any and a considerable lack of communication when it comes to gettting more details about the property especially when it comes to the condition.  Since many buyers are getting FHA financing, I don't think it would be too much to ask to state if the property is need of rehab and wouldn't qualify for that type of financing.  Okay...I'm off my soap box for now. :)

Jan 30, 2010 10:49 AM #7
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Hmm. You still barking up this tree? =P  I guess the drama has continued. And I can relate. I've dealt with my share of unprofessional agents. I completely agree with your sentiments. You tell them!

BTW, we handled our out-of-area MLS participants by raising the amount it costs to use our MLS. That took care of the problems.

Jan 30, 2010 11:05 AM #8
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Hi Jeff--this is a sore spot with me. I no longer will show short sale properties if I haven't been able to talk with the listing agent first. Not having the right keysafe on the property, or having an accepted offer but not changed in the MLS is just plain bad business.

Jan 30, 2010 11:37 AM #9
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Wow, as professionals we try and maintain some standards but the problems you point out, "limited or inaccurate information, lockbox issues, poor communication, and so on."are the result of these agents who care little about an organized process and protocol and more about making a quick buck. Sad but it's no wonder the public who has to suffer the consequences in a myriad of ways has a low opinion of our profession. Keep doing the right thing and I know all of this nonsense will end soon!

Jan 30, 2010 01:03 PM #10
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Jeff, unfortunately, the issues you bring up here are not limited to out of town agents.  There are agents in all our local areas who do things like this.  I think it's an issue of professionalism.  One thing that may work is instituting a penalty system for repeated offenses...just a thought. :)

Jan 30, 2010 01:04 PM #11
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

With all the issues with short sales and REO it would seem smart to use a local agent but the banks don't seem to care about getting the best service just getting rid of the property at any price.

Jan 30, 2010 03:29 PM #12
Brian Burke
Kenna Real Estate - Englewood, CO
Broker & Advising Expert-Denver Luxury Real Estate

Jeff - just recently we have had more dealings with out of area agents that I think ever before. Oh, and I just looked at a website that said the agent is our area specialist - yet they live and have an office long ways from here... hmmm.

Jan 30, 2010 03:56 PM #13
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Jeff, I have noticed this more and more of late. These are on line comapnies and I see a lot of these properties with totally incorrect information. I visied one seller and she said she would just correct everyone when they come to see the place. What? What uyear is this? 2110?

Jan 30, 2010 04:00 PM #14
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Jeff great advice you give for everyone!  We've been lucky in that we don't see out of state listing agents.  I hope we don't either.  Doesn't make sense to me as to why someone would list with someone that's not familiar with the local market or the way things are done...

Jan 30, 2010 07:45 PM #15
C. Lloyd McKenzie
Albuquerque, NM
Living Albuquerque

Jeff, you make some very good points. But aren't those some of the basic rules that we should be observing?


Jan 30, 2010 09:26 PM #16
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I hate to say this but one of the worst escrows of my life last year was a Sacramento short sale that was listed by a southern California real estate brokerage. There was no lockbox, no keys, no communication and the entire process was a fiasco. It was a miracle that it closed at all.

Jan 31, 2010 01:54 AM #17
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Donna - well it seems lots of folks have simkilar complaints. Certainly out-of-area agents are not the only issue, but it does complicate things and it seems they are less likely to follow the local rules.

Lisa - woof! Yep the drama continues. The problem is that there is limited enforcement by the MLS. And many simply do not list their homes in the local MLS which makes it more complicated for local users. We now have access to other county MLSs but finding the listings can be a challenge.

Lottie - it does get pretty frustrating especially if there is limited inventory as we have in the lower price ranges and buyers really want to see those homes since that's all they have to choose from.


Jan 31, 2010 02:11 AM #18
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Jeff - Great blog and I can relate to what you described. It is super frustrating especially when they use their electronic lockboxes which are entirely different than ours.  

Jan 31, 2010 02:23 AM #19
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

I can't ever imagine even taking a listing 25 miles away let alone 100! It is just crazy how some agents will do anything to have another listing.

Feb 01, 2010 09:52 AM #20
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Jeff it can be really frustrated when the rules are not follwed.  and I have to agree that even some agents in the area fail to do the basics.  The lockbox can be a big issue.

Feb 01, 2010 12:25 PM #21
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
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