Would you list your property with "Aunt Martha"?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 GREC# 169695

I have been on both sides of this street...

I got a call late this afternoon from a client that I've been working with.  They have a job that rain prevents them from being able to work and it was raining today.  They were out driving around and found a house with a "for sale" sign and called me with the street (it had no mail box) and the name of the company.

Well ABC Realty isn't in the local MLS.  In fact ABC Realty isn't local.  They are about 2 hours from the house.  So I asked my client to give me the agent's name and number.  I called, left voice mail around 4 p.m. I made a second call to the company and got them to email me the MLS data sheet. And left a second voice mail at the office for the agent.

Well after 9 p.m. my cell rings and it's the agent "Aunt Martha".  

May I speak with Tammy?

This is Tammy

I'm calling you back about 123 anywhere street

I'd like to show it to a client, could you arrange to get me a key?

Are you in the FMLS? 

well no, it's regional to another area and I'm not. 

Then could you have my client there Sunday morning at 9:30? 

well no, I'll be teaching Sunday School? 

Do you have a combination lockbox you could add? 


 Well Lowe's sells them. 

long period of silence...

Could you maybe make a copy of the key and leave it at my office this weekend and I'll be happy to either lock it inside the house or mail it back to you?

I'm sure my nephew wouldn't be comfortable with that.  And I have two other appointments Sunday Morning at 10:30 and 11:00 and will be there then, so if you can't be there maybe you could give your customer to me and I could pay you a 10% referral fee.

Are you serious?  You are offering me a 10% referral fee?

Sure, if you can't be there.

Let me call my client and I'll get back to you if I still need to show your listing.

Now as I stated I have been in her shoes, but let me tell you I wore them differently.  I once listed a home my brother owned in Vidalia (yes the onions) GA.  He had been transferred 6 months after he bought a home and was in a financial bind and I felt obligated.  I put up signs, added a combination lockbox, mailed fliers to all the local agencies with color photos and the combination and offered 4% selling commission.  I took nothing.  He was my baby brother after all.  Plus he doesn't ever let me pay to eat in his restaurant.

I left copies (about 40) of the disclosure in the house and my brother left 6 spare copies of the key with the neighbor in the event an agent were to lock the key inside or take it by mistake. 

So I understand family and helping out.

But I wonder if the nephew knows...

  1. No agent working near the house can show the house.
  2. The house is grossly under-priced
  3. Aunt Martha doesn't know much about referral fees
  4. The data sheet her office faxed to me earlier today had several things wrong

So even if Aunt Martha is not taking all or any of the commission is she really helping her nephew who happens to own a wonderful lake home.

I'll be talking to other agents in my office to see if one of them can take my client over on Sunday and talking to my client to see if he wants to go over on Sunday and I'll be telling him that it's a great deal even if he hates the house, because it's listed below what the county tax assessor says the lot is worth and that's a gross understatement.

So my advice to anyone selling a home... don't list it with your Aunt or cousin or neighbor if they don't know the local to your property market or minimally you might want to have your relative approach a local agent about a co-list.  It's a injustice to yourself if you don't.  If it costs you tens of thousands in profit to have a few thousand in commission or if you are just trying to be nice to an agent you have some relationship with it could be potentially harmful to your pocketbook bank account in the long run. And can you afford to take a hit when you don't need to do so?



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Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

That's incredible, Tammy. If this happened to me and the price was under market, I'd just have my buyers write an offer subject to the usual contingencies.

A few months ago, I called a listing agent about a home for buyers. I didn't have time that morning to show the buyers the home, so I asked the listing agent if she would mind. She had several offers in her hand, too. But she showed the home for me because she is a professional, and that's what we do. Oh, and my buyers bought it, too.

elizabeth weintraub sacramento real estate agent in land park

Oct 09, 2008 03:22 AM #1
Brenda Harmon
Century 21 Beal, Inc College Station, Texas - College Station, TX

I would definitely get someone in my office to show the property.

I would also try to see it before Sunday if she already has two appointments.

Oct 09, 2008 03:50 AM #2
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Elizabeth- I wanted to call the agent "stupid", but that's not a word I use on other people, but thanks to you I know what I'm goint to tell her... she's acting unprofessional and I don't appreciate it.

Brenda- My client is writting an offer this afternoon for over asking prices.  It has a due diligence period so when he sees it... if there's something really wrong or that he is opposed to, no harm no foul, he can withdraw and earnest money will be returned.

Oct 09, 2008 05:45 AM #3
Terri Visser
Desert Sky Real Estate, LLC - Redmond, OR
CRS - 12 Years Selling Central Oregon Real Estate

Sounds like you're handling it perfectly.  We're all a little strapped right now but that does not make it ok to start taking advantage of other agents.  We work in the offices we do because there are folks there willing to help.

Oct 09, 2008 04:53 PM #4
Chuck Willman UtahHomes.me
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Sounds to me like Aunt Martha is in the Aunt Martha business. Sometimes I just shake my head and wonder.

Oct 10, 2008 03:34 AM #5
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team

I cannot tell you how many times I've seen situations like this. I have a difficult time dealing with agents who don't do their jobs. It is my area of lack of patience. GBU, sis!

Oct 10, 2008 02:12 PM #6
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Tammy Lankford,

Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville
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