Are you showing a house, or breaking and entering?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Over the last year or so, an Evers & Company colleague has conducted twice monthly ethics classes.  These are not the type of sessions we snooze through to fulfill license renewal requirements, but parsing the NAR Code of Ethics, Sentrilock agreements, and every other piece of paper we sign or box we click to get access to our boiler-plate forms, MRIS listing service and the nit-picky stuff in the local licensing laws that can get someone thrown into Real Estate Jail.

And of everything we covered, there was one super-shocker:  the main complaint that gets filed with our local boards' Grievance Committees involves property access and misuse of Sentrilock keys.

I hate to think how often I've been in front of a house with clients in the car.  The MRIS printout says that I need an appointment.  It also says the place is vacant with a Sentrilock box hanging on the front door.  But the agent doesn't pick up the freakin' phone, respond to a text message or an email request.  And I've shown it before. I know it's empty.

Awww heck!  Let's just pop in. 

All of a sudden, there are screaming alarms, and before I know it, Officer Friendly is at the front door, gun drawn, assuming there is a burglary in process.

Even if I don't wind up in the city slammer, I could indeed pull a "Go to Real Estate Jail.  Go directly to Real Estate Jail!  Do not pass GO!  Do not collect a commission check!!" 

If you fail to follow the showing instructions on a listing, you are breaking and entering.  And the sellers or the listing agent (especially if you've ever done anything to piss her off) could file a complaint with your local Board of Realtors.  And even if there was no harm done, you could find yourself subject to at least a heft fine for your first offense.  If you are a recidivist, it could get a lot worse - like huge fines and having your license suspended or revoked.

There are many times when the showing instructions are less than clear, and I used to give myself the benefit of the doubt.  When they read "Call Agent", can I call and leave a message then take off, or do I need to have a conversation first?  Now I try to get some kind of confirmation - a call back or a text message.  And I've noticed that I've started to make the instructions on my own listings totally crystal clear. 

In the past, I always thought that the worst consequence for goofing up showing instructions might be walking in a naked people.  But it can get worse, a whole lot worse, if those naked people get annoyed enough to file a grievance! 


Re-Blogged 7 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Pam Jank 03/18/2016 01:10 PM
  2. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 03/18/2016 11:47 PM
  3. Jeff Dowler, CRS 03/19/2016 07:09 AM
  4. Winston Heverly 04/20/2016 02:04 PM
  5. Praful Thakkar 07/19/2016 03:44 AM
  6. Fred Griffin 07/19/2016 10:03 AM
  7. Lise Howe 10/21/2016 01:35 PM
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Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

In our MLS we have a showing service that is pretty responsive and does away with most of the angst with listing agents.

Mar 22, 2016 04:10 AM #112
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Pat, you make a very valuable contribution to us all. You are so right that going onto a property without permission is not permissible.

I know the frustration of unresponsive agents, especially when it is stated it is vacant. But we still need to get permission.


Mar 22, 2016 04:26 AM #113
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Call listing agent first is always the bottom line.  In a seasonal market such as ours, who knows when the owners might show up for the weekend.

I have seen owners bar agents that show up with out asking.

Even had one this past summer that called out the cops because they knew someone had been in the house without permission - and we knew nothing about it!  -  thanks to Sentrilock cards that don't update showings until they are "renewed"

Mar 22, 2016 07:21 AM #114
Margaret Kapranos
Zephyr Real Estate - Greenbrae, CA
Matching Marin Sellers to Buyers! 415-608-5070

It would probably be helpful for listing agents to fully understand the implication of this issue.  It's tough when you have a vacant house to show and the listing agent doesn't hold open houses, broker opens and either the seller or listing agent limits access etc.  

Mar 22, 2016 01:15 PM #126
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I am amazed that female agents break in. Go to property talking to sellers w/o chking with listing agent. I had one woman climbed over the fence trying to get see a property. The backdoor was popped open.  

Mar 22, 2016 03:42 PM #127
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

I don't really understand why this needs to be said. Of course you need to confirm showings with the listing agent. Period. No exceptions. And that includes new construction. I've showed more new construction listings this year than is typical for me and often there is no lockbox and it's a garage code to enter. Even if I know the code I call the agent before hand to clear whether it's okay to go in. Every agent should know this. I've known it from Day 1 as an agent. Anytime you enter a property without permission it's breaking and entering. End of story.

Mar 23, 2016 05:13 AM #128
Fresh Start Virtual Assistants
Fresh Start Virtual Assistants - Arlington, TN
Fresh Start Virtual Assistants gives you a “fresh

Very valid points. Great post. 

Mar 23, 2016 06:31 AM #129
Deleted Account
Fort Myers, FL

Great post!  I think it is basically Criminal Law 101.  Just because a home has a lock box on it, doesn't mean you can go in whenever you want to.  Whether the home is vacant or not, you do not have permission to enter the premises without calling, unless the MLS listing states so and gives you the code.  If it has instructions, then you need to follow them or it is criminal trespassing.  I don't see how someone can view it any other way.  

Mar 23, 2016 10:47 AM #130
Dorothy Liu
Alain Pinel Realtors - Los Altos, CA
Broker Associate, Silicon Valley Area,650-492-0859

Totally agree.  Showing instructions need to be followed.  Thanks for reminding everyone of this.

Mar 23, 2016 02:51 PM #131
Jonathan Denwood
Mail-Right - Reno, NV
Real Estate Services

Great points and it must be slightly unnerving when the alarms of hell start playing!

Mar 24, 2016 05:15 AM #132
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Patricia Kennedy - I remember years ago before I was a Realtor, my husband had to install a special lock to keep realtors out who just showed up without calling.  I am not sure this will ever change but I appreciate the heads up.  don't want to be put into a bad situation. 

Mar 24, 2016 09:44 AM #133
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Good blog! I had a client woken up at 7am on on a Sunday by his front door opening. Imagine the surprise of the Realtor & his buyers when my 6'4" seller greeted them in the hallway in his boxer shorts and his Beretta m9 cocked and pointed at them. That was one time I picked up the phone on a Sunday based on all the missed calls and texts from him. Showing instructions clearly stated no showings before 10am. We didn't file a complaint, my seller, after calming down said the shear terror and screaming from the three "intruders" satisfied his sense of payback enough. We started using the Call Before Showing code feature on the lock box after that!

Mar 24, 2016 01:25 PM #134
Shanna Day Team Leader AZ & UT - Call 480-415-7616
Keller Williams Realty EV (AZ) & Keller Williams SLC (UT) - Mesa, AZ
Top 1% Of 155,000+ KW Agents Worldwide!

When pushed to show a home that I have not received the confirmation from the showing agent, I simply say, "I simply cannot risk losing my license", and the buyers usually say, "Oh! I wouldn't want you to lose your license, okay."

Mar 24, 2016 08:18 PM #135
Mike Kelly,CRS,CIPS
The MJKelly Team - Santa Rosa, CA
"One of Sonoma County's Natural Resources"

I always warn my clients that a Realtor will come unannounced using the excuse, "But I called and left a message. You didn't get it?" I don't want to denigrate another Realtor but its such a target rich envirenment! We have a "have/wants" list we put together at our weekly Realtor Marketing Meeting. Many Realtors state they have a new listing coming on the market next week and give the address with the caveat--NO SHOWS until then.  Agents will get the "have/want" list, see the listing, search MLS but not see it there and then do a google search pulling up  Zillow or Trulia showng the property as if its actually listed. The Realtor/Agent then goes and knocks on the door to show it with client(s) in tow! They don't call the listing agent but go and show. What ryhmes with Moron? I've been known to set the "time to show" on our Supra boxes to a short window just as a defense mechanism. And how about READING the confidential remarks?

Apr 02, 2016 10:11 AM #136
Eren Millam
Realty World Cosser & Associates, Inc. - Chehalis, WA
Certified Negotiation Expert

I typically will not show it without confirmation. I let my buyers know that the agent is unreachable and we'll try another time if we don't find another house that same day!

Jun 10, 2016 10:43 AM #137
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Our Board Attorney sends out this reminder about once per quarter (usually because someone got in serious trouble for violating the showing instructions).  A Lockbox is NOT an invitation to open the door... read the MLS showing instructions!

Jul 19, 2016 04:04 AM #138
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I sure thought that having a Sentrilock card grants someone Super-access.

It sure seems that's how some agents work; the Seller's (and Listing Agent's) frustrations are very logical.

Aug 10, 2016 03:42 PM #139
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

Don't know how I missed this one but I did - thanks for alerting me to the alligators in the waters! 

Oct 21, 2016 01:31 PM #140
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Patricia. I missed this and am happy Lise re-blogged it. Very serious stff and I am glad it is.

Oct 21, 2016 11:18 PM #141
Sherry McNabb
RE/MAX Grand - Katy, TX
Local Roots | Global Reach

You would think that this would be common sense, right? HA!  I have seen so many agents that have done so many crazy things...this post definitely needed to be written.  We can only hope that those who needed to see it did in fact read this blog post!  I am so thankful for our central showing service!  

Nov 12, 2016 09:48 AM #142
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Patricia Kennedy

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