Are Agents too Busy to Be Careful?

Real Estate Agent with Baird & Warner

I am experiencing a growing trend in the Chicago area; listing agents are instructing buyer agents to email or text an appointment request to the listing agent. And the listing agent affirms the appointment by email or text back to the buyer agent.

The listing agent has no way to really know who is sending the email or text, and seems to not be interested in verifying that only licensed agents are going into the listed property.

Sure, it's perhaps a more streamlined way of setting appointments, and it's easier for me as a buyer agent than using the old fashioned phone call technique (or even an automated online system) to request a showing time. But at the same time it makes me nervous for the seller of that property. And is that listing agent actually keeping track of who shows the property so that the seller can be kept up to date on the listing traffic? Maybe, maybe not.

I'm just sayin' .....

My listings are ready for any showing with an electronic lockbox on the premises, giving me the ability to track from any computer exactly who enters the property, and when. And all appointment requests are made only through a centralized appointment service that logs in all showing appointments into an internet-based database that becomes a permanent record for me and my sellers to reference.

With the listing of a property comes a very high level of responsibility to the property owner. Anyone who plans to list their home for sale and draws up a list of questions for the agent at the listing presentation should add these to the list:

- how do you handle showing requests?

- what must a buyer do to acquire keys and get into my property?

- how do you keep track of showing appointments and agent feedback?

- what system do you use to verify that appointments are kept, and which agents actually are going into my property?


As I keep reminding myself (as often as I can remember to remind myself!), most clients do not know enough to even ask those questions. So I guess it's up to me to put that information "out there" in the listing presentation, and to remind the sellers that the company where I hang my license is taking every possible precaution to ensure the security of their home and to maximize their ability to have the property be shown.

I'm just sayin' ...

Comments (131)

Jordy Brisbin
Sutton Centre Realty - Vancouver, BC

In my region lockboxes are not quite customary, and most strata properties do not allow them. Here, agents generally show the homes they list, and if an agent has too many listings to handle on their own, they hire someone for showings. Some do use lockboxes, which are on a cell-system, and we are able to assign call-before-showing codes and track visits, but for the most part we can only do this on detached homes. The call-before-showing codes prevent agents from just coming and going as they please, but with a vacant property it may be preferred that there be no 'CBS' code. We do get notice of lockbox activity pretty much in real-time. The lockbox system here uses a card exactly like a credit card, that we carry in our wallet. When we need to use it, we just update it by sliding it into the reader/programmer, and it is good for a day. (sentri-card system)

We used to use Supra, but we have ditch the monster keypad now. YAH!!!

Considering how often agents don't lock doors or windows, I personally feel it is prudent to supervise showings, and lock up when people leave, but that is me. Security is important to me.

For determining if someone is an agent, we have a very simple system called touch-base. While scheduling appointments, if the buyers' agent is at the computer on the MLXchange system, just request they send a touch-base message, to which we can respond, or confirm an appointment. All agents, but only agents have access to this system, and the contact info is sent to our text, email, or both... however you like... easy as pie.

I see a somewhat nasty comment reqarding a requirement for sending a text to track people. To say that not every agent is able to text seems ridiculous. Well, I don't see the big deal with phone texts, although the level of security is too low for my liking... Every agent has a cell phone in this century, and it is a very simple matter to send a text, so let's lighten-up. If someone was offended by my requesting a touchbase, and they called me arrogant, as the person referred to above, I would seriously question whether to go to show such a person around. Life is too short for that.

Edit: Here most people do call to request a showing, which I like. I do, however, request at that time that they send me a touchbase message. It halps for keeping track of everything, and it does verify their identitiy with a high level of certainty. We all use the same computer system here to look up listings, and it is a very very simple action to send a touch base message.

Apr 17, 2011 10:14 PM
Fernando Herboso - Associate Broker MD, & VA
Maxus Realty Group of Samson Properties - Clarksburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

CSS  ( is the best money I spend for all my listings. . .I recommend  this to anyone that is a listing agent

Apr 17, 2011 11:19 PM
Catherine Marrone
Integrity Residential Brokerage LLC - West Newbury, MA
West Newbury MA real estate, Essex County

We use Supra keys.  I find that NH real estate agencies always check your status. Some MA real estate agencies check as well.  The loop hole I see is with bank owned property. They often require combo lock boxes which make it hard to control access. 

Apr 18, 2011 12:43 AM
Sheila wilkinson-sanders
I am in Chicago area and use showing assist with a confirmation. I use sentrilocks. And I rarely provide 1 day codes. If you are a realtor, you need to get the equipment to be a realtor! There are too many unethical and/or lazy realtors giving their clients combinations and allowing clients to go into properties on their own. Also agents or client sees a house they like and then take the keys. I went to show a house a couple of weeks ago and the listing agent arrived at the same time livid because someone took the lockbox 2nd day on market. Insane! Realtors are not going to give someone use their sentricard, so it's a great way to track who has been to a property. I feel boards should mandate agents get a sentricard.
Apr 18, 2011 01:47 AM
Sandi Davidson
Florida's Realty LLC - Lehigh Acres, FL

The electronic lock boxes are the most efficient way to keep track of traffic.  I have not experienced the requirement of making an appointment via email.  A phone call is still the most common request.

Apr 18, 2011 02:17 AM
christopher callier
I am glad some one is doing the best they can to insure their clients safety and and sacntity of their homes true it is a great responsiblity we have people are entrusting their homes to us and if you are as selective about who you let into your home as i am about mine you want your clients to feel safe with the idea that total strangers are going to be walking around in their homes in south east minnesota we have supra ekey and it si a great system it records every time the lock box is opened and who opened it Chris Callier Mn lic REALTOR Coldwell Banker Burnet
Apr 18, 2011 02:53 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

We get access via the MLS for the most part.  Sometimes we need to call for an appointment. 

Apr 18, 2011 05:24 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Susan - I haven't had this happen to me but I can certainly see the danger.  Congratulations on your feature!

Apr 18, 2011 08:29 AM
Susan Waddle

Coming from CHICAGO..I know what you are speaking about.  SUPRA'S are fine, they work..but what you are saying and I agree. THE PERSONALITY of agents are now gone!

Being in Florida...many have the "centralized appointment" system.  Many companies have it.  ??????? 

I guess NOT TALKING TO THE AGENT IS NOW PART OF THE BUSINESS!!  JOKE...I still and I did up there, keep in touch with my sellers by ME .......CALLING THEM!

This centralized appointment are talking to a person who has no clue as to who you are..has no clue about the house...the agent will not give you any type of heads up, on the property...wrong gate codes, Wrong codes for the L/B if they are no using supra's  TRY THAT ONE OUT!

Because of this, I feel there is more security, when you directly speak to the agent.  That is what we are being paid for!

In regards to receiving a e-mail or a text. fine, have no problem with it.  But if I call, and need a question answered, I don't want to hear your voice mail, telling me that "you will get back with me shortly or ASAP...  Can't tell you how many homes I could of sold, if the proper information was given at the time of the showing...their loss!  

I am with you 100% 

Apr 18, 2011 08:38 AM
Courtney Moody
Prudential Florida Realty of Ocala - Ocala, FL

Texting the info would not work for me. I prefer to use the Supra lockbox.

Apr 18, 2011 09:59 AM
Jennifer Manchester
Suburban Properties of Charlotte, LLC - Mint Hill, NC
GRI, ePRO, ASP - Broker/Home Stager

Our association here is using Centralized Showing Service.  It is fabulous.  They log the appointment, confirm with the sellers, give out codes for combo boxes if necessary and you get a confirmation email if it is your listing, your showing and the seller can get one too!

Apr 18, 2011 10:41 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTORĀ®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I think that agents practicing this type of real estate are opening themselves up to liability and a whole host of issues.  And if this becomes mainstream, the public will demand a commission ectomy!  Why should they use a buyers agent if that agent isn't effectively assisting their clients.  Great post!

Apr 18, 2011 11:23 AM
Joey Fenwick
Self-Employed, 1st Time & move up buyers,FHA, VA conventiona - Phoenix, AZ
Fenwick Team FHA, VA & Jumbo Loans, Phoenix, Scott

Our younger generation are in love with TEXTING. Look at the opportunities being missed by talking with another really cool agent that you could develp cross sales with just because you heard their voice, how they talk to you and if they sound intelligent. I think that would be a great listing tool to share with potential sellers when they are interviewing agents. To be sure that the agent has their BEST interest s in mind!


Apr 18, 2011 12:06 PM
Robert Courtney
Lihue, HI
Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS

Susan - Wow, I cover the showing as part of my marketing explanation.  What great questions to make sure I incorporate into that segment to offer the confidence of security.  Thank you.

Apr 18, 2011 04:33 PM
Brenda Van Fossen
Dawson Ford Garbee & Co., Realtors, Lynchburg VA - Lynchburg, VA

I live in a relatively small community (225,000 in the area).  I prefer some form of notification even with a vacant home.  Generally, agents here still call the listing agent or their office for an appointment.  The one problem I have had is, when agents learn by word of mouth, that a home is vacant, they will go and not call even though the MLS instructions specify appointment only.  I have not had any repercussions so far but to me appointment only means appointment only and give me some form of notification.

Apr 18, 2011 05:20 PM
Eugene Adan
Adan Properties, Carlsbad, CA (760) 720-9710 - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate


In Southern California we use Sentrilock and other areas use Supra.  It is convenient and both systems keep a log.  It is a huge responsibility, one that should not be taken lightly.

Apr 18, 2011 06:15 PM
Linda Fidgeon
Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Page Realty - Wrentham, MA
Make your next move your best move!


I 'm glad you wrote this post, and you bring up some good points. But I think you are missing one important point. I use the email system  now so that I have a written record of requests to show. Its much better than a phone call when I am driving and can't write it down. It doesn't mean I am not checking on who is showing my listings. I am just taking advantage of  latest technology to help me run my business more efficiently.

Apr 19, 2011 05:20 AM
Rose Vasilakis Future Home Realty

Susan... great post!   I make all my appointments, and find that it is just the right thing for me to do. My Seller hired me... and no one knows my Seller like I do, so appointment time setting is a pleasure for me to call them and take care of this.  I follow my Seller from the first encounter to the closing table and there for them every step of the way.  I would not do it any other way.

  Texting for access? Well let me tell you when I call, and call leave word and no answer so I email then finally I just text and ask for access to another listing... while that other agent can not return my calls or email for they have another job! Seller have to realize to hire a FULL TIME Realtor... not a part time one who won't pick up the phone.. that has been my pet peeve... or one that won't return calls and has a Contract on it and it shows Active!  This is a FULL TIME JOB! Enjoy and give it your ALL! Happy Selling!


Apr 19, 2011 12:18 PM
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

I think we are just too busy be careful, to have lives, to breathe.  I also think the expectations are WAY too high on agents.  I'm expected to get back to agents within 5 minutes of a showing request, and if I don't, then I'm somehow not committed to my sellers, and the sale of their home.  BACK OFF PEOPLE!!!  Somehow back in the 1950's, people bought and sold homes without internet, cell phones, or instant communication.  We do realize we sell sticks and bricks, right?  We are not heart surgeons or firefighters, where every second matters.  I think everyone needs to take a deep breath.  Sorry, I think I got off topic and started ranting...HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Nov 07, 2011 05:08 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Just linked this post to one I just wrote... How To Show a Listing The Rome Way...Without Being There.

Apr 04, 2013 08:34 PM