Leave the House as You Found It

Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY License # 49FA1074963

I got a nice compliment from a seller client that was nice to hear, but the reason for it wasn't as nice. She told me that I was by far the most professional agent she has dealt with in selling her home, which was why she listed with me. That was great to hear. Then she lamented her experiences with some of the agents who had shown her home, and that was jaw dropping. 

The level of carelessness demonstrated by the showing agents was appalling. 

  • Lights left on
  • Rear door left unlocked
  • Cat was let outside, contrary to showing instructions. 

She also noticed some agents showing up dressed like they were on their way to the beach. That was less of an issue in my mind, but still lame when you consider that we are talking about a three quarter of a million dollar piece of business. Slovenly dress I can overlook; slovenly actions, not so much. 

The ethos of our industry has always been to leave homes we show in the same condition as we found them. If you turn lights on, turn them off before you leave. Secure the property to the same level as you found it (translation: lock the door!). And don't lock pets in rooms where they may make a mess or worse, let them out where they could be killed. 

It isn't too much to ask.  Leave the property as you found it. 

Comments (80)

Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
HomeSmart - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

I would have to agree with everything you said, it's just common courtesy. If the buyer's agent had a listing, I am sure they would want anyone showing the home to leave the property as they found it.

May 15, 2014 06:12 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

What if the agent before you left the lights on?  Sometimes it is hard to know what to do.  In extreme situations I call the listing agent to let them know I found something unusual.  

May 15, 2014 07:15 AM
Woody Edwards
First Choice Realty, Inc - Chesterfield, VA
A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone!

Everybody has made great comments, but what it boils down to common decency and thinking about the other person.  Lock up after you just unlocked their house, take care of that pet that they love, everything in it's place (and that was decided by the seller....not you or your buyer).  In other words, in what condition would you want YOUR HOME LEFT????

May 15, 2014 07:22 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I've found that some professionals aren't really professionals, so incidents will occur from time to time. However, as some have opined, who knows what the original circumstances were to begin the day? I leave the property exactly as I found it.

May 15, 2014 08:55 AM
Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA
Liz Harris Realty - Chandler, AZ

Great advice today and look forward to more interesting insight in the future! Liz in Chandler

May 15, 2014 08:58 AM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Phillip, the Seller has it right, except for the cat/ Loose pets in a home can be an issue. Last year I was in a home.  The second I opened the door the cat shot out of the house. My client and I hunted for the cat for a good half hour.  We called the Seller who shared that it was okay and the cat would come back when he was ready.  It is best that cats and dogs are kenneled or at pet day care.

May 15, 2014 12:42 PM
Mario Gattavara
Coldwell Banker Lifestyle Properties - Oroville, CA
(Lake Oroville Area)

You can't judge a book by its cover. Aside from the Realtors dress, some of the worst dressed people have become some of my best clients. But I agree, and the way agents have lack of respect when it comes to showing a home. 

What if it where their home?

May 15, 2014 03:50 PM
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND

As professional home inspectors, we consider the treatment of a sellers home a major concern. We even shy away from actions like breaking seals on attic hatches without explicit permission or simply disturbing personal effects beyond what is necessary.

It's still their home and the stress of moving is plenty to deal with without having someone disrupt it.

One thing that does make me nervous is leaving an exterior door unlocked even if I find it so, but I grit my teeth and leave as I found it. Over the years I have gotten two calls from sellers asking how I expected their kids to get in the house after school. Now I leave them as I find them and notify the Realtor that it was unlocked on arrival.

May 15, 2014 09:54 PM
Margi Popp
My sellers had moved across town. They were continually getting calls from their old neighbors that lights were left on in the home they are trying to sell. They even found the bathroom messed up too. Since they are gone for the summer we removed the lockbox, now agents have to schedule a showing appointment, we now open and secure the home for each showing. Sad we have agents who do not show respect for a sellers property. Shame on you, youknow who you are...second thought; maybe you have no clue!
May 15, 2014 10:48 PM
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

There was a similar post yesterday.  I am on your side.  Tidy up before you leave.

May 16, 2014 07:30 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Where's the cat? Oh oh. Someone got let out and Fluffy is looking flat, thin, out on that front highway.

May 16, 2014 07:49 AM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Hi Phillip, 

I hate when agents leave lights on or leave doors unlocked. Drives me up a wall!

May 16, 2014 11:34 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE!

Nice reminder.  I have to add, put the keys back as well.  I am not sure how many times I have gone to listings that don't have a key, or the correct key, in the keysafe.


May 19, 2014 12:55 AM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

No question on locking doors and watching for keeping pets secured if advised in advance. Lights are not as clear protcol

May 19, 2014 11:22 AM
Jordan Gouger
Keller Williams Realty Inc. - Austin, TX
Helping you to achieve your housing goals!

Good article. I wish that more people would follow those guildlines, especially the part about locking the door. 

May 20, 2014 05:22 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I leave it as I found it.  If they have all the lights on, I leave them on, if off, I turn them off as I go.

Nov 27, 2014 02:14 PM
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

J. Philip Faranda ~ just wanted to stop by and say hi! Thanks for the nice instructions, and I agree "leave it as you find it"

Feb 03, 2015 07:47 AM
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

Couldn't agree with you more, leave the property as you found it. Of course, turn off lights, take the proper safety steps with pets, lock the doors! I am perhaps also concerned about attire - you are a business person and conduct oneself as one. I will always remember when a listing agent had to come and unlock a rusty combo lock she had on the door. As she bent and struggled to unlock the door, it was very obvious that the yellow print flannel pajama bottoms she wore, were thread-bare.  If she only knew what the five of us behind her saw, think she would be as shocked as we were. Attire IS IMPORTANT!

Apr 08, 2015 02:36 AM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

Philip, as someone who tries their best to live by the Golden Rule, I treat other's property as if it were my own when showing houses.  However, I have come across other agents who -- among other things -- left one or more lights on at one of my listings and don't do the sellers (of occupied homes) the courtesy of leaving their card behind.  Thankfully, no pet has been locked out.  I can't even imagine coming home to find my pet is not inside.

P.S. - I'm sure I speak for quite a lot of AR members when I say we miss seeing your posts regularly (tomorrow will be one year since you wrote your last post).  You are among the best contributors.  I may not have left more than a few comments while you were more active, but I ready many of your posts.  Having family in Putnam County, I'd definitely recommend they use your services if they ever needed them.

May 11, 2015 11:50 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Leaving the doors unlocked is the most annoying thing. How difficult it is to lock the door after you opened it? 

Jun 12, 2017 11:41 PM