I have noticed lately that there have been some posts pointing out that listing agents are not correctly updating their listing status as quickly as buyers and their agents would expect or want.
Case in point, a listing is vacant. The buyer's agent schedules the showing and the showing service has no update on the status of the listing. Or maybe the agent does not schedule the showing or call the listing agent. The agent and the buyer assume that because it shows as "active", it must be "available". Wrong answer. Now you have an unhappy buyer that really liked a home that was not really available and already under contract. A call to the listing agent prior to showing could have solved that issue by allowing the buyer to decide if they wanted to take the risk of submitting a back up offer. No point in disappointing the buyer, and no blaming the listing agent for that one.
A common scenario could be this: if it is a weekend or holiday, there could be an accepted offer on the property that is waiting for the earnest money, a part of the signed paperwork, or simply the next business day to be turned in as "contingent" or "pending". Active does NOT mean available.
Another scenario happens to me quite a bit. Since I am a relocation specialist, many of my listings are negotiated verbally by the homeowner, as they are not able to sign any documents pertaining to the sale of their home. If an offer is presented on a Friday or on the weekend or holiday, the relocation company will not sign a contract until possibly Wednesday of the next week. It could be considered a disservice to the seller to not allow further showings on their home, so I allow the seller to make that decision to continue showings or not. Then if a buyer is interested, I will share the current status with their agent.
There is always the option of a back up offer if a buyer is really interested and is willing to wait out the inspection period. Also, the relocation company prefers that the property not be removed from the market until the inspection contingencies are released. I do, however, revise the showing desk remarks so that agents are aware that there is an accepted offer on the property, but again, not until all documents have been fully executed.
The same goes for foreclosure or short sale listings. There could be several offers on the property and depending on the lender requirements for offers, many of those buyers may not be willing to wait it out. Especially if the buyer really needs to close quickly. There can be advantage to a buyer if they are in a position where time frame for the closing is not an issue. But again, the listing will continue to show as active and due diligence is required to find out the actual status of the property. Once your buyer knows the facts, they can better determine if they want to take the risk or not.
Before assuming that listing agents are not properly updating the status of their listings, consider who is really in control. Sometimes there is a third party with rules that override the MLS requirements. I will admit though, there are agents that do not update listings for the simple purpose of trying to snag more buyers or back up offers to encourage the first buyer to perform. But I think that those agents are in the minority in most markets. Not all agents are purposely trying to make your life as a buyer's agent more difficult. Nor are they trying to confuse or mislead your buyer.