Come On In? Not Yet. A Vacant Home Isn’t An Invitation to Show Anytime

Industry Observer CalBRE #01165532

Come On In? Not Yet. A Vacant Home Isn’t An Invitation to Show Anytime


Vacant Homes Are Not an Invitation to Show AnytimeWith most home buyers conducting their primary search online before contacting a real estate professional - there can be some mis-conceptions about viewing homes for sale. Online photos of these homes can lead to issues, preconceived ideas or just plain confusion for some home buyers.   


Let's say your agent has lined up homes for you to view on a given day.   On your way to one of those homes you pass by one you remember seeing online.  Yes, that home is vacant you recall and ask your agent to stop to take a look.   Not so fast -- it may look vacant  but it still requires your agent to review the showing instructions.   


A vacant home is not an open invitation to show anytime.   Maybe the home isn’t actually vacant.   It actually could be occupied.   Maybe there is a security system or alarm that needs to be disarmed.   Maybe there are other reasons.  Actually, it doesn’t matter --- you see there is a protocol that needs to be followed.   It is our duty as real estate professionals to follow showing even if you think a home is vacant and easy to see/show -- it isn’t an invitation to show anytime.  


So don’t think a vacant home means we can just show up and use my lockbox key and see that home you saw online….it’s not quite so simple.

Come On In? Not Yet. A Vacant Home Isn’t An Invitation to Show Anytime


Posted by

Michael Jacobs


CalBRE # 01165532

2065 Huntington Drive

P. O. Box 587

Pasadena, CA 91102

Call/Text:  818.516.4393




Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528 12/08/2013 08:37 AM
Home Buying
California Los Angeles County Pasadena
1st Time Buyers
Almost Anything Goes
Bartender, Make it a Double
vacant homes
prospective home buyers
invitation to view homes

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Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


Around here we have a term for's called "breaking and entering."


Dec 05, 2013 04:41 PM #31
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Getting them into the home, not just teasing from the slow crawl idling by at the curb when they are hot to trot. Before the fire in the belly dims. Videos, real full motion with natural sound that's 40% of the experience makes that possible. No handcuffs, cops or assumptions needed. And you delivered the open house on demand to them rather than the old dog and pony one at a time tedious time killer. 

Dec 05, 2013 07:13 PM #32
ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team
ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC - South Windsor, CT
The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists

Great post Michael.  Often, even good agents need to be reminded of this.

Dec 05, 2013 08:21 PM #33
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Normally, though, it is easier to show barring unforeseen circumstances.

Dec 05, 2013 08:47 PM #34
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hey, no kidding, Michael! I've run into agents who think that a sign in the yard is an open invitation to go in and look without an advance phone call!

Dec 05, 2013 08:56 PM #35
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

It is always best to go through proper protocal to show any home, even if it's supposedly vacant.  

Dec 05, 2013 09:29 PM #36
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Michael, good point! You never know what may behind the closed door. Good reminder.

Dec 05, 2013 10:03 PM #37
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

It's definitely tricky when out on a planned tour and clients want to add a home that's in the area.  A quick call will sometimes result in a "yes go ahead" direction, but often it just needs to be put off until the next time.

Dec 05, 2013 10:26 PM #38
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Christine - things are not always what that "seem" to be.

Jason - I'm glad you've never had a difficulty showing a home but I've made a phone call, sent a text message and an email in the past and received no response on more than one ocassion - you're very fortunate.

Gerard - it's all about following the rules -- if the instructions say go direct - no phone necessary, fine but if there are specific notes to contact the listing agent, listing office or the owner first with a confirmed appointment -- then that's what needs to be done.


Dec 05, 2013 10:58 PM #39
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Rich - indeed!

Andrew - thanks for the comment.

Eric - thanks for stopping by.

Jill - normally - perhaps, but not always.

Nina - we all have stories to tell.

Amanda - so true.

Michael - yes, some surprises - that's for sure.

Kat - it's good to be flexible yet remain professional.  

Dec 05, 2013 11:02 PM #40
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Michael, surprisingly, this mis-conception is carried on to some listing agents, too. I was told by one such listing agent - oh, it's vacant, you can go anytime! 

Dec 06, 2013 01:14 AM #41
Chuck Mixon
The Keyes Company - Cutler Bay, FL
Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR

I had a situation where a agent opened a house that was removed from the MLS so as to set off bug bombs. I feel I could or should of removed the key, but was lazy and said no one will go look.


Dec 06, 2013 01:52 AM #42
Pat Champion
Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty - Mount Dora, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great topic a lot of home buyer's feel they can see a home anytime I have to explain to them we have to have the seller's Realtor permission; sometimes the showing can be done anytime if vacant but we still have to let the Realtor know. Have a great weekend

Dec 06, 2013 03:16 AM #43
Andrea Peters
The Andrea Peters Group @ HōM Realty - College Station, TX
SOLD with Andrea!

So true. Both of my vacant listings have special instructions at the request of the sellers for various reasons. So they aren't "Show Anytime" homes.

Dec 06, 2013 06:40 AM #44
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Vacant or not vacant, it is only professional to make an appointment.  It's also a great opportunity to maybe find out a little more about the property of the listing agent is talkative!  :-)

Dec 06, 2013 12:00 PM #45
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Most of the many vacant homes that I look at are more likely to have squatters than security systems, but we do still give the listing agent a call to let them know we will be stopping by.

Dec 06, 2013 12:52 PM #46
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

Just when you think it us vacant you find out the owner is home for the weekend.

Dec 06, 2013 12:59 PM #47
Aaron Hofmann
Atlanta Communities - Smyrna, GA
aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings

The good news is that hopefully all agents have smart phones and all MLS's have mobile apps that allow agents to look up property details on the fly. In many of those cases, the home is under contract and that is why it didn't show up as a possibility for the buyer. Check first, not just because you should, but so you don't waste your time.

Dec 06, 2013 06:18 PM #48
Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker


Dec 08, 2013 12:54 PM #49
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Praful - that's not so uncommon in our area - of course and those remarks can be found in the mls agent only remarks.  Our lockbox system can monitor who enters and when. In some cases a call before showing code can be part of the instructions as well.

Chuck - yikes!  I bet the agent was more than surprised.

Pat - it's always the right thing to follow the showing instructions.

Andrea - you're right showing instructions need to be discussed with the seller too -- very good point.

Silvia - in our area, you may not always be able to talk with the listing agent regarding an offer yet alone showing the property.  We need to work within the parameters we have. Anytime we can talk to each other - listing agent to selling agent - is good in my opinion. Unfortunately, it doesn't always exist.

Bob - squatters are definitely not a good thing to find anytime/anywhere.

Cheryl - that's always a possibility too.

Aaron - very true.

Fred - thanks for stopping by and your comment interruptus.   




Dec 21, 2013 01:58 PM #50
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