How far would you go?

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

In a recent online conversation, one of Active Rain's regulars told us that his MLS systems were combining, allowing him to potentially list a property 4-5 hours drive away from his home base.

This, of course, opened up the conversation into "just how far would you go" to service your sellers/buyers.

I work in the suburbs of Chicago.  The metropolitan area of Chicago is plenty large, driving north to south could take you a full hour under excellent conditions, and multiple hours under the more common less-than-excellent conditions.

When you include Chicago's collar-counties, you could easily spend several hours driving one-way to serve your clients, turning showings into a full-day's event.

Just how far would you be willing to go, and in doing so, would you be truly serving your client's needs?  Do you know the area, schools, streets, services? 


Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois


Comments (10)

Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

Our MLS joined with two others about a year ago for data sharing. Since we did this, I have had one broker take listings and represent buyers 4 hours away from us. But she knew that market having lived there before and was fine with the commute.  When we have agents wanting to do this, I talk with them about the logistics of opening a house for the inspection, additional showings, etc. Are they prepared for that kind of a drive? Or would it be better just to refer the client to a local agent? It becomes a matter of choice for our agents as well as keeping the professionalism and top representation of our clients formost. 

Mar 16, 2021 02:18 PM
Alan May

If she was familiar with the area... that should be fine.  But that's quite a drive.

Mar 16, 2021 06:01 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


In commercial real estate, we had a half hour driving radius from our offices.  On a good day, it could take 15minutes, and a so-so day a 1/2 hour, and all hell broke loose day it was an hour plus...That was the state of the West Side portion of LA.  On a Map the airport is 13-15 miles from Beverly Hills.  It could take an hour and a half given the time of day...A

Mar 16, 2021 02:23 PM
Alan May

I remember the traffic in your area... a moving parking lot.

Mar 16, 2021 06:02 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Alan I would not be driving that far to attempt to service clients in an areas that I don't know the market. Our RE commission made it clear quite a few years ago that working outside of ones area of expertise was a poor idea (and that meant type of sale and/or geographic area.  If I lived in an area (part time) that might be different.

Mar 16, 2021 04:07 PM
Alan May

we all know that there are plenty of agents who do things that are "not recommended".

Mar 16, 2021 06:03 PM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

We have a statewide MLS system in CT but you can drive across the state in under 2 hours. That doesn't make it easier to get more business as our expertise is usually within a 10 mile radius of our homes.  That we can service effectively.

Mar 16, 2021 06:39 PM
Alan May

Yes.  I'd driven across Connecticut before.  It is a quick drive.

Mar 16, 2021 06:48 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

My MLS covers an enormous area in North and South Carolina. I pretty much draw a circle around Charlotte of a 50 mile radius... that puts me into the areas of the Greater Charlotte area of North and South Carolina that I can reasonably handle and be knowledgable about. Beyond that, I refer.

Mar 17, 2021 04:58 AM
Alan May

50 miles is pretty far, dontcha think?

Mar 17, 2021 07:59 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

In general, an hour drive one way is my normal max.  But there are "it depends" answers too.  If someone wants new construction in Northern Kentucky, it's the same builders and the same floor plans as the Cincinnati side of the Ohio River, so I'm willing.  But the same area for resales?  Almost never.  I say almost because the same new construction home I helped a buyer with a few years ago then decided to sell and I was the agent he trusted.  Pricing, marketing, all things I could do.  We have a clear understanding that I won't personally show the home, there are other agents in my office that are specific to Kentucky, so I've got an arrangement there.

But the idea of listing in Cleveland when I live in Cincinnati?  Yes, I might have the data access and legally my license is for the full state, but who's going to put the sign in a yard 4-5 hours away?  Nope, that's a 100% find a local agent and do the referral.

Mar 18, 2021 08:34 PM
Alan May

I have become fairly familiar with Cleveland... but there are local nuances that would make it impossible (not to mention that I'm not licensed in Ohio) for me to represent a buyer or seller in Cleveland.

Mar 22, 2021 12:25 PM
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

I have listed and sold homes 2.5 hrs away in a small town where I grew up. I know the area and know the people and am humbled when they remember me and ask for my assistance. However, on another note, I have tried to send referrals to agents that live in larger cities and find they won't drive 30-45 mins to show properties because it's "not my area". Where I live is predominantly rural, so we service 5 counties, which is crazy, but I try to limit my service area to places I'm familiar with and preferably an hour or less drive.

Mar 19, 2021 06:21 AM
Alan May

2.5 hours aways seems pretty darn far... even if it's your home town.

Mar 22, 2021 12:26 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Working outside your area of expertise is unprofessional - and a disservice to the clients. When I was an agent we used to have out-of-area agents list here, then drop by and tell us to sell their listing. One even tried to give me his keys to the house. I said no thanks.

Mar 19, 2021 08:07 AM
Alan May

I think so, too.  You're not doing your client any favours, working that far away.

Mar 22, 2021 12:26 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

For me it's about 1 hour max, and that's rare. But our CRMLS covers a large part of California and I've seen listings in my area where the agent is several hours away.

Mar 21, 2021 08:39 PM
Alan May

I'd say my limit is about 1.5 hours... but that's for buyers.  For sellers... that's too far.

Mar 22, 2021 12:26 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Good question. It's interesting reading all of the comments here.  My MLS covers all of Maricopa County and part of Pinal County, about a 500 mile radius!  I've literally sold in all 4 corners.  I'd love to stay nearby but I guess I learn quite a bit about other areas, traffic and different parts of town. 

Mar 23, 2021 07:57 PM
Alan May

You're definitely more adventerous that I am.

Mar 24, 2021 03:09 PM