Is it a house showing or a home invasion?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Yesterday morning, I got out of the shower to find a message in my voice mail.  The call came in at about 9:30 am.  It was an agent wanting to show a listing I have.  It's an occupied home, and in addition to the regular showing instructions (by appointment - call agent), I have (in all caps) a request in the remarks that agents must call me for a very easy showing appointment. By the time I returned this agent's  call half an hour later, she'd already been in and out of the house.


And it's quite likely that on a weekend morning, my sellers would be sleeping in.  They might have become one of her walking in on naked people stories.  But like most of the residents of the District of Columbia, these sellers got outa' Dodge and are enjoying the cool air of the Smokey Mountains. 

The agent sounded very sweet and very young and is with a huge company.  Maybe she was sick the day they did the training on Showing Houses 101.  But I didn't have the heart to be nasty to her.  No harm done, and I didn't want to do anything to make her not want to sell the place. 

But here's the thing.

At a recent ethics class, I learned something interesting.

A huge number of complaints filed with our local Board are complaints about agents who don't follow the showing instructions.  Some are filed by consumers and some by other agents.  And you know what?  When you use your Sentrilock Card to access a house you haven't been authorized to enter, you can get into trouble, both with the Board of Realtors and the local real estate commission.  It's real estates equivalent to breaking and entering.

What can happen, other than maybe walking in on indisposed sellers?

  • You can set off the alarm system, triggering a fine from the local police department for a false alarm.
  • You can surprise the family dog who then bites your buyer.
  • You can break something expensive.
  • You can forget to lock up and then they get robbed and blame you for it.
  • Maybe nothing happens but the listing agent just doesn't like you!

If someone files a complaint with GCAAR, our local association, it's pretty much of a no-brainer.  The agreement is very clear about following directions in the showing instructions.  They make it easy to complain, with a simple online form to fill out describing the violation.  Just fill it out and email it back.  And when a complaint is filed and verified (easy to do in this day and age of electronic fingerprints all over the place), things can get nasty:

  • They can confiscate your Sentrilock card so you can't easily show property.
  • They can fine you, $1,000 for the first offense and $5,000 for the second - and you can buy a lot of great shoes for that amount.
  • The complainants can go to the real estate commission to go after your license.
  • You can wind up in court if any serious damage was done to the house.

There have been times when we've all been standing in front of a house with buyers.  Instructions say call the agent, but nobody answers.  And that lockbox hanging over the doorknob beckons. 



Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lesley Wilson-VanGoethem 07/29/2014 04:27 AM
  2. Praful Thakkar 08/03/2014 01:28 PM
  3. Roy Kelley 08/04/2014 03:45 AM
  4. Winston Heverly 03/27/2015 12:32 PM
  5. Ginger Harper 06/05/2015 11:49 AM
ActiveRain Community
Diary of a Realtor
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Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Samsel & Associates - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

It's critical to follow showing instructions and I agree totally that consequences should be severe. But I also think that showing instructions need to be clear and that the phone number  that is given to schedule appointment s needs to be a working numer with someone answering it.

Aug 03, 2014 04:18 AM #100
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Being able to track who shows and when is the main reason for using the MLS keys. The best reason is it keeps unscrupulous/lazy agents from just giving the lockbox code out to their buyers.

Aug 03, 2014 05:59 AM #101
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

I always put a 'call before showing' code on my lockboxes. If the showing agent does not call me for that extra code, her key will not open the lockbox. Many showing agents get frustrated because they don't have to do this extra step very often but it is a level of protection for my client. Too many buyer's agents don't bother to call to make an appointment, no matter what the listing information says. THEY are the ones I want to keep OUT of my listings since they obviously missed the ethics class. GREAT post!

Aug 03, 2014 06:49 AM #102
John Mosier
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert - Prescott, AZ
Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142

Barbara-Jo -- I don't remember seeing that our Supra system has provision for the extra code but that is certainly a good suggestion. We write showing instructions to try to eliminate abuse of the Sellers. If Buyer's Agents are not going to read and obey the instructions, they should be disciplined soundly. Most of my listings show "listing agent must accompany."

Aug 03, 2014 07:44 AM #103
Paula McDonald ~ GRI
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Great reminders for us all.  So glad your client was out of town and there were no mishaps.  I think the electronic keybox is the greatest thing ever!

Aug 03, 2014 08:28 AM #104
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

NOTHING is more awkward! Am I right?

Aug 03, 2014 08:44 AM #105
Jimmy Chickey
Keller Williams Realty Southwest - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor, Nationally Recognized Author, Teacher

Glad that it all turned out ok!  Thanks for the post.

Aug 03, 2014 09:11 AM #106
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

In this case Pat, it was a good thing the sellers were away for the weekend.  Your post is a great way to educate others about this important topic!!

Aug 03, 2014 09:36 AM #107
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Patricia, you are so right - it can be tempting to open that lock box when you can't get a hold of the listing agent and your buyers are telling you "this might be the one!".  Don't do it! is definitely the right advice. One of my sellers was walked in on when he was fast asleep! Luckily, the agent and his clients tip-toed out and no harm was done (imagine the possibilities!).  Of course, my instructions for an appointment were not followed. I then limited access via the electronic lock box to more restrictive hours.


Aug 03, 2014 12:41 PM #108
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Patricia, it's surely not appropriate to visit any listing without a prior appointment unless instructed. (And some agents still do that is something I can't believe!)

Aug 03, 2014 01:01 PM #109
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I only visited a listing without an appointment once.  There were 2 houses for sale on the same street.  I thought I was in the right house, but it was a different listing.. Fortuantely, no one was home.. but I wondered how this large home could have a small price tag... LOL

Aug 03, 2014 01:53 PM #110
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Oh boy!  She is lucky that the sellers were not home and that she didn't get an eyeful as you said.  It is not worth putting your license in jeopardy.  If you cannot plan ahead of time to set up showings for your buyer, they may just have to be disappointed.  I tell my buyers that they need to let me know at least a day in advance for all showings, especially on the weekend when it can be more difficult to get confirmations.  Great post.

Aug 03, 2014 02:06 PM #111
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I recall clients who said they would never again allow a lock box on their home - because an agent walked in without an appointment just as their naked teen daughter emerged from the bathroom after her shower. 

Aug 03, 2014 02:40 PM #112
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life


You don't think the buyer agent was simply being super effecient and not bothering to wait for the confirmation, do you?  Maybe she was just trying to save you the hassle.

When there's an issue (alarm, pet), I will leave in index card in the Sentrilock reminding agents that they should NOT enter unless they've been cleared.

I've got one listing with a sign rider that clearly states "Appointment Required".  That's not been foolproof either (and that includes the note in the lockbox).

In your case, it worked out.  Missy buyer agent was lucky.

Aug 03, 2014 03:14 PM #113
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Pat, once again, you are the voice of reason! The watchdog, the soothsayer...and you were kind not to get pissed off at this newbie. Too bad she isn't an AR blogger and could learn from YOU!

Aug 03, 2014 09:09 PM #114
Will Nesbitt
Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria - Alexandria, VA
Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage.

Great choice of JPEG to accompany your post in Active Rain, Patricia Kennedy! Have a splendid day.

Aug 04, 2014 03:16 AM #115
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

I think we have some of the best reads out there on Active Rain. Thanks for sharing

Mar 19, 2015 01:38 PM #116
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

great post Pat I enjoyed it immensely and I think it gets the message across loud and clear. Are you sending this to all the new agents in your city?

Mar 27, 2015 01:30 PM #117
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Patricia - Interesting post. I can see how this may affect agents who do not follow showing instructions.

Mar 27, 2015 01:49 PM #118
Maria Gilda Racelis
Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington - Manchester, CT
Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen!

Good Morning Patricia Kennedy . Stopping by from Winston Heverly 's page. Missed the original post. As I mentioned, we had numerous complaints too about showing agents lending their key pad to another agent or to a client without thinking that the responsibility was on them if something undesirable happened.

Mar 27, 2015 10:21 PM #119
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Patricia Kennedy

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