Aptlynamed, Other/Just Looking in Jerome, AZ

Does the presence of the seller during showings hinder offers?

Asked by Aptlynamed, Jerome, AZ Wed Aug 22, 2007

I realize it is best to be away from the home during showings, however, I had a bad experience with a potential buyer, and as a result, I feel reluctant to leave during showings. In this case, the buyer and agent allowed the buyer's teenage daughter to climb up into my unfinished attic during a showing. They even borrowed my ladder to obtain access to the attic area. While in the attic, the girl put her leg through my ceiling. Fortunately, she was not hurt. In addition, I found three body impressions on my bed indicating they had relaxed on my bed. I came home to find a damaged ceiling, soot everywhere, and a messy bed. I was truly horrified. What concerns me about being away from the house, with strangers in the house, is the issue of liability. Does the presence of the seller during showings hinder offers?

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Aptlynamed, , Jerome, AZ
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Thank you all for your responses. They are helpful and thought provoking.

To complete the story, this was the buyer's second showing. The buyer came by again so her daughter could see the house. The Realtor (showing agent) was a personal friend of the buyer's which could explain why certain professional boundaries were not enforced. I came home to a note on my desk, written by the buyer, apologizing for the damage. However, there was no accountability on the buyer's part for the mistake she made in allowing her daughter to go into my attic in the first place. The buyer offered to pay for damages. My agent contacted her agent as well as the buyer agent's broker. The buyer's agent had already discussed the damage with her broker and claimed that I had given them permission to enter my attic. This was simply not true. There was never any discussion about inspecting my attic. Hearing that the buyer's agent had attempted to shift the responsibility over to me, only added insult to injury. One can only assume the buyer's agent was trying to avoid trouble with her broker. As my home is historic, the repairs required detailed work. I made the repairs myself and billed the buyer for labor and materials. After the incident, the buyer' agent contacted my agent informing us that the buyer was still interested in making an offer. Great! I thought. But no offer came in. This went on for several more weeks (phone calls from the buyer's agent to my agent) but still no offer. Frankly, with all the calls and no action I began to wonder if the buyer's agent was dangling a carrot to forestall my filing a complaint against her. I'll never know... I never did file that complaint!

While I can appreciate Mr. Walker's openness about possible scenarios (I'm open to explanations too), I do think it was highly inappropriate to send a 17-year-old into my unfinished attic. Inspecting a home attic is best left to a home inspector. The father was not present during the showing. The only three people on the tour were the buyer's agent, the buyer, and the buyer's daughter. There was no soot on my messed-up bed so I'm guessing they relaxed on my bed prior to going up into the attic. It's impossible to not get soot on oneself in my attic. Soot was everywhere the daughter walked when she came down from the attic -- there was no soot in the bedroom.

Thanks again for your feedback!
5 votes
Ellen Chung, , San Mateo, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
That is such a bad experience to go through and I'm sorry to hear all that happening! That is a nightmare! Unfortunately with the sellers' presence at an open house it makes it difficult for buyers to be honest with their agents and with your agent, which is the most important of all. And during showings the buyer's agent will be able to provide your agent with some good feedback as well. Your agent is one of the most important resources that provide you with feedback and opinions that can improve the marketing and saleability of your home. Also buyers often feel restricted and awkward when the seller is at home--it may give them the impression that the buying process will be difficult and awkward as well, which easily turns buyers off. And like the others said in this market the more buyers you can get the better.

After reading your last posting to completely the story, you should definitely take a moment to complain to the buyer's agent's broker. Not so much for making the mistake of allowing a 17 year old to go "check out" the attic space, although that is already horrific, but because s/he tried to shift the responsibility onto you. Best of luck and I hope that you don't experience any more horrible results from showing your home.
4 votes
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Tiffany and Bridget - I strongly disagree with your presumption that the agent who allowed the teenage girl to access the attic was necessarily indecent, unknowledgeable or lacking in integrity. You do not have all of the facts. Please do not rush to judgement.

Lets just look at a possible scenario that is less condemning of the agent, that could also be inferred from aptly's post:

The buyers 19 year old daughter (teenager) is a second year building trades student at the community college. Buyers are really serious about the property and want to make an offer but they notice a water stain. They ask the daughter her opinion. Having studied this issue in college she knows it could indicate a roof leak - or not. They ask her to take a peak.
Teenage daughter ( 19 ) assures nervous realtor that she has done this dozens of times as she works summers for a remodeling contractor.

Nervous agent, having been reassured, makes what turns out to be in hindsight, an error in judgement.
Had there been no accident, the finding of no obvious leak, or even an easily repairable leak, removes an the obstacle of an unkown issue from the buyers list of excuses to not write an offer. Offer is written, accepted and agent is a hero, instead of being called out as indecent, unknowledgeable, and lacking in integrity!!

Oh, the bed. - Mom and Dad had to check their little girl to see if she was injured. That would explain 3 impressions on the bed. I don't think they would have felt at all "relaxed" until after they looked the leg over and figured there were no breaks or lacerations.

Next time you read a consumer's story, keep in mind that you don't know the whole story. and are not equipped to pass harsh judgement on some Realtor that you don't know.
4 votes
Mitchell Hall, Agent, New York, NY
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I'm sorry to hear about your what happened during a showing of your home. I don't blame you for not wanting to leave your home. However a seller at home during a showing can intimidate some buyers and possibly can hinder a sale.

Selling homes is very different in every market. In my market listing agents are always present. My listing agreement states that only myself or someone from my firm will be present when ever the property is being shown. If the home is vacant I might give a buyers agent access to the home.

When I list a property I list it to sell it. Therefore it is my responsibility as the listing/marketing agent to always present to the property either directly to buyers or to buyers with another agent. I've never listed a propert that I didn't sell. I would suggest you ask your listing agent be present for showings. A listing agent has a fiduciary duty to you. Being responsible for your property during the listing is party of that duty.
Web Reference:  http://www.mitchelljhall.com
3 votes
Kristal Kraft, Agent, Greenwood Village, CO
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Reading of your previous experience with selling a home helps one understand why you are hesitant to leave now. Your experience is not a typical one. Sad and annoying true, but it is unlikely for this to happen again.

As a seller the worst thing you can do is hang around while the buyer is trying to visualize themselves in your home. I call this process "mentally moving in." I've never worked with a buyer who appreciated having the selling looking over their shoulder when they were touring. Having a seller around changes the situation from a prospect to a guest. The buyers then feel like a guest in your home and act accordingly. They will never tell you what they think. They will be polite and let you talk but you won't learn what they are truly thinking.

Staying to protect your property from further "happenings" will only work against you in the long run. At some point you will need to detach from your home and think of it as a "product" to sell. The sooner you are able to do that, the better. I know how hard that can be...
3 votes
Kaye Thomas, Agent, Manhattan Beach, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I agree with the advice given by others.. it is best when a seller is not in the property during a showing but that doesn't mean you can't be around.. You can go into the back yard or water plants in the front or as I had one seller do... he put chairs in the garage and had buyers inspect that area first. Just your presence in the vicinity might prohibit the behavior you noted

While Jim is right.. there could be other scenarios...If I were your agent I would have called the other agent and found out exactly what occurred .. then discussed how to pay for the damage.. Noone should ever be allowed to wander on their own through an occupied home.
Web Reference:  http://kayethomas4homes.com
3 votes
Michael Ford, Agent,
Wed Aug 22, 2007
That story goes into the hall of fame for bizarre stuff...at least you get a great story for your moving party. That said you can safely say that nothing like that will ever happen again.

To answer your quaestion though it is best to allow the agents who are with their clients the time and freedom to stay for as long , or as short, an amount of time as they feel they need and the presence of the seller will defeat that goal. it also allows the buyers and their agents to "quiz" you and gather recon that might be better off not being known. All agents who have been at it for any amount of time will ask probing questions and use it in the decison to offer and the negotiations that follow.

generally speaking the longer a buyers stays at a property the better.

please let us know how the showing agent with the wrecking crew repaired the damage.
3 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Home owner definitely should not be there. I have had homeowners chime in and point out where they always put the Christmas tree after a potential buyer pointed out they could put a tall tree someplace else, I've had sellers argue on the telephone and follow us around pointing out the obvious "this is the dining room", and had to bring the buyer back a second time after asking the seller not to be home and the buyer noticed all kinds of damage they hadn't noticed before. Sellers have even pointed out things that were "wrong" with their house! Like "that mark on the wall wasn't a leak it's a paint stain". It sounded like it WAS a leak and she was making an excuse.

Even worse is the listing agent. I once had a listing agent ask the buyer I brought what kind of house they were looking for, and proceed to tell them all about their own listings and other company listings that were not in the town the buyer was interested in, which then piqued the buyers curiousity enough to ask me to drive them PAST these properties, which I already knew were not appropriate for them, and which they then eliminated.

The ideal situation for me is me, the buyers and no one else on the first visit.
2 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Wed Aug 22, 2007

What timing.... Earlier today I wrote that the presence of sellers agents can also have a negative effect. Oh...Oh..Oh.. Just had that happen to my buyers and me. Then, I opened up Trulia on my computer and saw your post recommending a seller agent be present.

Just got back from an appt. Sellers agent met us there, much to my surprise. I had scheduled the appt w/ the sellers agent, but was not expecting the "help" to be there. The help was not helpful. In fact, the help was a strong deterrent. I know my buyers and I told them before the appt that they would really like this property a lot. I could not talk to my buyers, and they could not talk to me.......much to both of our frustrations. They wanted to draw comparisons of this property to others we previously visited. The comparisons would have been favorable for this property over the others, but it was not a conversation they or I wanted to have with the “help” of the sellers agent. It is a great property for my buyers. If anything progresses in terms of an offer, it will be despite the sellers agents help. The sellers agent is clueless that their presence was an obstacle.

So, respectfully, Pam, I could not disagree more strongly or intensely than I do at this moment.

Can I talk w/ my clients by phone later? Yes, but we can’t point to the stove, reference how and why nuances of the layout are so perfect for their needs, stand in front of the fireplace, look at the view, etc., as we draw comparisons. The sellers agent deprived that oppty. That was frustrating for my buyers and me. Worse, it was a disservice to the seller, since each comparison would have had this property coming out on top.

I couldn’t give you a stronger testimony than this to say, seller and sellers agents, “Don’t be your own worst enemy.”

Where’s Ruth? Put this in your book. I’ll keep you posted on the updates of my buyers’ decisions.

Jim....Tx for the laugh. In my frustrated state of mind, it was just what the doc ordered.

Carrie......Excellent suggestion on putting the BA on alert to encourage more careful montioring during showings.
2 votes
Carrie Crowe…, Agent, Southaven, MS
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Seller should not be in the home if possible. I understand your reluctance to let others thru your house now. Who would not be gun shy! Have your agent put in strict instructions to the Realtors stating that you have some discomfort in this area. It will put the buyers agent on alert and they will be more likey to think before they let their buyers investigate in areas that could cause trouble.

Jim, We can always count on you to play devils advocate.....you Monstah! rofl
Web Reference:  http://carriecrowell.com
2 votes
Pam Winterba…, Agent, Danville, VA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
By all means it is important the seller not be present as it ihibits a buyer from looking around.

There is a liability issue when the buyers agent allows anyone to access the attic or underside of the home without permission (an accepted offer)

I think Jim's comment that mom and dad were checking out the daughter on the bed was another side of looking at it. The couch may have been better.

Another suggestion (and Realtors don't kill me on this) maybe you realtor or their assistant could be present for showings?

By the way, did anyone leave you a note or give youa call on what happened?
Web Reference:  http://pamwinterbauer.com
2 votes
Chris Tesch, Agent, College Station, TX
Wed Aug 22, 2007
It is unfortunate that you had that experience. It is, however, a fluke, and is extraordinarily unlikely to happen again. Imagine when you go to look at properties. How would it make you feel if the owners are there? It might make you nervous and less likely to look into closets and explore the property thoroughly. It might make it very difficult for you to "move into" the property and imagine your own furnishings there.

I think it is imperative that you leave the house when showings take place. I wouldn't even be in the garage or on the back porch.

Good luck with the sale of your home, and I hope that you don't have any more bad experiences.

Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station
Web Reference:  http://www.ChrisTesch.com
2 votes
Bridgette Ko…, , Florida
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Tiffany is absolutely right, no decent REALTOR should have ever allowed that to occur! You've had a pretty bad experience. But don't let that one experience ruin the chance of selling your home in a timely manner. Your presence in the home will make potential buyers very uncomfortable and anxious to leave. That's the last thing you want when a potential buyer walks into your home. Having a listing agent present sounds like a a good compromise, but I do not recommend it. Again, I need to speak freely with my clients. The presence of your representative (who has a legal obligation to you to share any information about the buyers which may provide you an advantage), will also lessen the likelihood of an honest exchange with my buyer clients. Not to mention the difficulties of coordinating schedules. Heard enough to get one agent, one husband and wife on the same schedule to view homes, imagine tossing another agent's schedule into the mix. Very difficult. I say bite the bullet. It probably will not happen again. Best of luck!
2 votes
Todd Tramonte, Agent, Richardson, TX
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Selling a home can be stressfull at times. You must defer to your real estate professinal on many difficult decisions. The short and sweet answer here is YES. Remaining in the home during a showing is detrimental to the sale. Buyers need to feel free to express their true opinions. As the saying says, "A confused mind says NO." We need to keep our buyers minds free of confusion, alarm and frustration. If you refuse to leave, try walking around the back yard while they are in the home. The best option is to leave and give them plenty of time to start "mentaly moving in." Let their kids pick their bedrooms. We would all like to think that we make rational decisions when making a purchase of this size, but in reality the huge majority of buyers buy based on emotion. Everything that you do from start to finish in the process of selling a home should point towards a buyer having wonderfully happy thoughts of the grand life that lay ahead in their new home.
1 vote
Chris Gempel…, , Breckenridge, CO
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I know it is difiicult to have people goign through your house, but I do feel the best way to show your house is vacent. I belive that your broker should discuss some gidlines to the brokers showing the property. Also, I dont want to write to much, but you can print out little labels and place them around the house. I have some framed please remove you shoe signs I use at my sellers request. Good luck.
1 vote
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Other than not being able to freely discuss and view the property, which others explained earlier; sometimes sellers will inevitably make mistakes and misrepresent the property at the spur of the moment. I also don’t like sellers to be present because if my clients like the house, I don’t want them to show unneeded eagerness in front of the sellers; or offend the sellers if they make certain comments about the house and cause ill feelings which could hurt objective review of the offer.

However, even if you don’t thin the seller is there, be aware. I heard true story about turning on the monitor so they can record things, so you never know who is watching when you are showing the house.

Anyway, I have a couple of stories about sellers being there:

First one is a simple one. I took my buyers to go and see this house with a gigantic, gorgeous oak tree in the backyard (storybook like). First, the house smelled like smoke, and then the owner did not leave. He went to this beautiful backyard and started puffing big time – I am talking about white clouds above him. Not a pretty sight. My clients were not comfortable and did not stay long. This could have been a wonderful property for my clients. The agent was a very experienced agent from my office, I told him, he just shaked his head – he had advised his clients to leave, but of course, his clients did not listen.

Second story. The husband opened the door to our surprise and started to tell us things about the house and what they are still in the process of doing to upgrade the house. My client asked a question about the backyard where one side is level and the other side slops up the hill. The husband said that they will be leveling the hill to wherever – which he described. Great, so my client made an offer pending those things to be completed. The listing agent called, was all angry; said that her clients never meant to do that and they would not accept the conditions on the offer. My client said that she heard what he said they were going to do and that’s how she made the offer. Turned out the husband and wife discussed doing the improvements to help the sale of the house since the house has been sitting on market but the wife never bought in that, so they nerve really came to agreement to do those things. So, guess what, the deal fell through. Because both sides became emotional and did not want to give in.

Yes, I am like the others, I alwasy advise my clients to stay away or stay out.
1 vote
Trulia Roger, Home Buyer, Alameda, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I went to an open home once where the seller was obviously not mentally ready to sell. Her house still had all her personal things on display, and she would not listen to her agent when it came to pricing the place. She priced it a good 10% over an optimistic close price, and she tended to show up at 4:00pm on the dot on open home days, when the showing (open home) was still going on. The net result? Her house languished on the market for 45 days, she reduced the price by a tiny fraction, and wound up taking it off the market because she never got any offers.

Her being there during open homes was only a symptom of a more general problem, but everyone who went to see the place got a weird "I OWN THIS PLACE!!" vibe off of her, which I'm sure contributed to the failed sale.
1 vote
Bridgette Ko…, , Florida
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I stand corrected! Only you could call me out and make me laugh out loud (thumbs up!)--although your scenario is within the realm of possibility (as are a infinite number of other unlikelihoods which I will not describe here)--I should not have made a rush to judgement....
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Wed Aug 22, 2007
I cannot express how horrified I was to read of your experience. This is, by far and above, a very rare exception.

As unfortunate as it was, I still advise that you not be present at showings. I also do not support requiring a listing agent to be present. Exactly as Bridgette describes, the challenges of coordinating schedules will result in a decreased number of showings. As in your Q on lockboxes, I reiterate the same advice. Make your property easy to show. The presence of the lisitng agent can also have stiffling or rushing effects on the buyer, also.

When I have a second appt showing on my listings, I ask the buyer agent if he/she thinks it would be helpful for me to be there. Sometimes, then, a buyer may have more Q about a property. I follow the lead of the buyer agent who knows his/her clients. If they say come, I do.

In very large estate properties, I think it is appropriate for the lisitng agent to accompany all showings.

If you have any challenges with future showings, notify your agent immediately. Since you have been subjected to such an extreme situation, perhaps the odds of a repeat are very very slim.
1 vote
Ken Christian, , Raleigh, NC
Wed Aug 22, 2007
It does hinder a showing to have the seller present during the showing. Buyers feel restricted, agents feel restricted, and the whole process suffers. People want to view a house and feel free to discuss the property openly among themselves and with their agent. They want to take the time necessary to see the house without being rushed. Also, their may be situations where the seller may take offense to remarks made about the house by a buyer. Its just a less than adequate situation. As to damages to the property by potential buyers, this is unacceptable and should be addressed with the showing agent, who is suppose to be present and in charge of the showing.
1 vote
THE COPLAND…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed Aug 22, 2007
Any agent with in integrity and knowledge would not allow those things to occur. I feel often Buyers feel less comfortable while a seller is in the home. Many times they want to discuss the positives and negatives of the home freely with each other while viewing. If the seller is home they will limit there discussion. You want the buyers to wander through out the home freely. My suggestion would be to ask if the Buyers Agent would mind if your agent was there to attend the showing. Most agents would not have a problem with that. Hope it all works out and your ceiling has no new teenagers making you skylights.
1 vote
NoThanks, Both Buyer And Seller, New York, NY
Thu Aug 8, 2013
I will NEVER leave my home for a 1st showing.

I have left and come home to
exterior doors open (not just unlocked but open),
the bathroom door closed with the light and fan on (and yes still smelly),
personal dresser drawers left partially open (my home is perfect and I NEVER leave drawers partially open),
body impressions on my bed (like op),
muddy footprints all over the carpet,
and footprints on the counter top in the kitchen (why is someone standing on the counter?)

Also, most agents DO NOT leave their business card when showing your home. This is very unprofessional.

I'm warning you, leaving for a 1st showing is like giving your keys to someone on the street and saying go on in my home and look around and see those people over there? Take them with you.

I don't like to leave for the 2nd showing either but figure the people are at least somewhat interested if they are coming back to view the home.

I have contacted the media to do a hidden camera investigation on agents showing homes. You may want to make a similar request.
0 votes
Diane Glander, Agent, Spring Lake, NJ
Wed Aug 22, 2007
It is always best for the seller to be absent during showings. It is unfortunate that you had such horrible past experiences. That is definately not the norm and hopefully you made the showing agent responsible for the damage. That being said and done, you can ask your listing agent to accompany all showings if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Web Reference:  http://www.dianeglander.com
0 votes
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