A Matter of Manners? Or a Realtor® Responsibility?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Providence Group Realty TREC# 0608931

An interesting discussion is hitting TAR's LinkedIn Group Page today. The thread's originator has posted a question regarding showing etiquette, suggesting that Buyer's Agents who who are uncomfortable with other Buyer's Agents entering a home during their scheduled showing are overly-presumptious...

Readers supporting this argument claim that Agents do not have a "right" to refuse entry into a home to another agent party requesting simultanous entry, particularly in the event where a Seller has approved overlapping showing appointments. Participants criticize showing agents who reject co-showing -- categorizing them as over-reaching, violating the Seller's wishes, inconsiderate,  rude, and generally out of line. Commentators also suggest that Agents who don't wish to co-show should take the time to set up an exclusive showing appointment so other Agents won't be bothered by their inflexibility or have to wait on them.

The flip side supports a SAFETY FIRST theme... Buyer's Agents have absolute authority to protect themselves, their clients and the property under their approved showing appointment -- and while the key is logged in their possession. Upon entry, they lock the door behind them so no one can follow inside. Upon departure, they secure the key back inside the keybox for the next scheduled Agent to unlock, per authorized showing instructions. They argue that overlapping showing appointments do not equate to an open house, and emphasize that they have no authority or requirement to let ANY other party in the home -- and that doing so presents unnecessary risk to themselves, their clients, and the Seller's property. If a Buyer's Agent learns that there may be overlapping showings and they aren't comfortable waiting in line, then they should request an exclusive appointment time.

The Author is trying to refocus the discussion on the question: "What is the professional way to handle this conflict when it ocurs in the field?

Recap: Both Agents have approved showing appointments. One feels entitled to complete their showing without intrusion. The other feels they are entitled to immediate entry and should not have to wait.

What are your thoughts?

Comments (48)

Richard Robibero, e-Pro, ABR, SRS
Panorama R.E. Limited - Toronto, ON
Selling Your Home as if it were My Own!

Great topic Amanda Thomas 

In my neck of the woods if another agent shows up it is common practice to allow the current agent to finish. Also the listing brokerage has an obligation to tell me that there is another showing at the same time if that's alright and usually it is.


In terms of security we never give the key to another broker who shows up without letting us know what the lockbox code is and giving us a business card. If they don't have the code they don't get the key. Simple as that.

And more importantly, no need to freak out! As Realtors if we're unable to handle someone showing the property at the same time than I'm not sure how we can handle million dollar deals.. That is to say, either wait or don't.

Jan 12, 2015 10:02 PM
Ranee Bray
TCP Real Estate - Cedar Park, TX
North of Austin Homes

I lock the door and keep the key.  No disrespect, but I am not there to keep other agents happy.  I am worried about keeping myself safe, my clients safe, and the home I am showing secured.  If I open the lockbox... it's my responsibility.  I actually go as far as to put the key back in the lockbox and make the next agent "key in".  So far, nobody has gotten mad at me.  Everyone I've ran into knows the drill & gets it.

This actually happened to me a few months ago even on a vacant home.  I was leaving and a group of Realtors for the "tour" showed up.  I put the key back in - they got it back out - everybody was happy.  

I am in Austin so no extreme cold, or anything like that to change circumstances.  As an agent whose had her clients prescriptions stolen from medicine cabinets I am very careful with other peoples homes.  Not on my watch!  

Jan 12, 2015 10:09 PM
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

We've only come across this a handful of times and each time it was handled tactfully and professionally, A testament, I suppose, to the agents involved. However, as a general rule we advise our sellers NOT to allow overlapping showings, for reasons that, judging by some of the earlier comments, are all too obvious. Having said that, if we were showing a home and another agent came in saying they had a showing at the same time, we would politely ask them to give us a few minutes to complete our showing and allow me to replace the key in the lockbox before they enter. If we came to a home where a showing was already in progress, I would advise our clients to wait outside (or in our car during inclement weather) until the showing was over. To us, it's not only the professional way to handle it, it's also common sense. Unfortunately, not everyone got on board the Common Sense train when it left the station!

Jan 12, 2015 10:34 PM
David Alan Baker Laveen & South Phoenix Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Phoenix - Laveen, AZ
Your local Expert

I did not read all answers, so this may be redundant, if it is see definition of redundant.

I think it ok, as it has happened.  I like to show professional courtesy. If I arrive later and another agent is showing, and my clients are willing to co-see a home, I ask permission of the other agent.  Then, I respect the answer.

Jan 12, 2015 10:59 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Depends on point of view...Is this any different than lets say.....an open house with multiple agents and their clients visiting?

Jan 12, 2015 11:10 PM
Amanda Thomas
Providence Group Realty - Plano, TX
​Broker, SRES®, BPOR, MCNE, ​Certified DRS Agent™

Great question Richie Alan Naggar Author PEARLS SERIES of books  -- At an open house, it is customary for the listing agent and/or Seller to be present. Liability and accountability shift for who 'controls' the home, I think.

Jan 12, 2015 11:20 PM
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

My personal preference is to only allow one agent in the home at the same time. I've cooled my heels many times waiting for another agent to get done.

Jan 12, 2015 11:29 PM
Renee Eubanks
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Prescott, AZ
Selling Real Estate One Home At A Time.

I will show the clients the outside until the agent is finished inside.  If someone comes while I am inside.  I will let them in but I will put the key back in the lockbox and will ask the agent for their business card.  

Jan 12, 2015 11:38 PM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

My response is typically like that of Silvia Dukes PA, REALTOR in comment #21.

Jan 12, 2015 11:51 PM
Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624 - Draper, UT
Broker, Results Real Estate

Same as Silvia... If I show up second, we wait.  If we are first I let the agent know we are almost done.  I explain that I will be locking it up so the listing agent can track the showings. ( I like to track showings when I am the listing agent)  Also, I once (early in my career) told an agent that I needed to lock up for the safety of everyone involved ( it did not go over well at all)  Thats when I switched to the track showings statement.  Now they never question it, but I honestly do this to cover my showing.  I don't know who that agent is, or if they are an agent.  I need to lock it up and let them do there own thing under their time and keycode entry/leave time.  On a side note as a listing agent, I notify agents if showing times overlap so they have a heads up.  

Jan 13, 2015 12:31 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

 Interesting discussion, if you are the agent in the house, how do you respond if you don't know the other agent, do you ask for a business card? I have done this for two reasons, admittedly one less than the other, the lesser reason for safety, the main reason, as mentioned in the post I am responsible for the key to this house, who am I handing it over to. I have seen agents previewing on a new listing leaving the door unlocked and just anyone walking in one after another. 

As mentioned above if I am the second agent I will usually ask if we can come in, or let the agent know we are there and say we are going to lookat the back yard first. All depends on the agent and their view of cooperation.

Jan 13, 2015 02:54 AM
Sharon Harris
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Hanover, PA

I try to stay out of the way. If I get there first with my client I unlock door and keep the key in my pocket . If a second agent comes with clients key goes back in box and I ask for there card. never have I had a problem with 2 sets of clients looking at the same time.

Jan 13, 2015 06:01 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I lock the door and keep the key in my pocket until I leave.  If I know there are people waiting to get inside I will not let my Buyers dwadle and take unnecessary time. However, if they are interested and truly taking a good look I let them.

Jan 13, 2015 08:28 AM
Steve Higgins
RE/MAX Kelowna - Kelowna, BC

Hi Amanda,

I think it is common sense and courtesy to wait until the first agent is done with their showing before you enter the house.

Jan 13, 2015 11:00 AM
Amanda Thomas
Providence Group Realty - Plano, TX
​Broker, SRES®, BPOR, MCNE, ​Certified DRS Agent™

Hi Steve Higgins -- we totally agree. :-) And much like Evelyn Johnston we priortize the client we serve -- another agent's agenda, sense of entitlement, or expectations of timeline do not take precendence over fiduciary responsibilty or safety. :-)

Jan 13, 2015 11:04 AM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I can see both sides but I err on the side of safety and caution.  I discuss showings with my seller and co-showing or overlapping times is not suggested.  If there is a slight overlap, both agents are aware of the other and are instructed to wait if someone already accessed the key.  That is the professional and fair way to do it in my opinion....and it doesn't happen much.

Jan 13, 2015 11:07 AM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

I think it's just common courtesy to the buyers to be able to view a home without the interruption and potential resulting chaos of another group walking around. Safety is also a serious concern. Once another agent almost literally barged in as I was showing a home, after I had opened the lock box with my key pad. Luckily, I waited until after he was gone to check on the home and sure enough, he had left the sliding doors to the deck not just unlocked, but wide open!

Jan 14, 2015 01:05 AM
Amanda Thomas
Providence Group Realty - Plano, TX
​Broker, SRES®, BPOR, MCNE, ​Certified DRS Agent™

Olga Simoncelli -- that is a great point!Not only is individual agent exposure increased by having to co-show with unknown people of unknown professionalism, but it is also such a statement of overbearance! You were responsible and waited for the other agent to leave -- which held up your time and schedule.

Our duties are to our Buyers -- not to babysit other agents who regard themselves as more important than everyone else.

Jan 14, 2015 02:35 AM
Andrea Cameron
Ultima Real Estate - Cedar Park, TX

Over the years, I can think of several instances where an agent has walked in during my showing. The majority of the time, I'll simply express something like, "we're finishing up, please give us a few more minutes" and the problem is generally solved because the other agent leaves & I complete my showing. I always put the key back in the lockbox to ensure the proper chain of entry is detailed & accounted for.

Jan 15, 2015 09:14 PM
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I'll tend to wait if I am #2 (unless it's January and I will ask if we can step inside to get out of the cold...but then be discrete and stay in the front entry room)

If I am #1 and someone wants to come in, I often will allow if I see their bus card or if I see them register with their lockbox key so the listing agent knows I'm not the only one who came through.  If my client doesn't feel comfortable with someone else in the home, then I will ask #2 agent to tour the grounds while we finish our tour.

Jan 17, 2015 11:15 AM

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