Is there a code of ethics for realtors when making an appt to show a house?

Asked by Beth, Philadelphia, PA Sun Nov 1, 2009

We've had realtors bring people through who I later learned weren't qualified to make an offer. I go to great lengths to make sure my house is ready to show, including cleaning the house top to bottom, decluttering more than usual, putting the dog in doggie daycare, cleaning the lawn of dog poop, touching up paint, washing windows, etc.I do this for EVERY scheduled showing b/c I want to show the house in the best possible light. However, it is getting VERY frustrating when we aren't getting any offers. We had a showing last week (the first in 40 days) and since I had two home sick with the flu, I called my realtor and asked her to confirm that the realtor who made the appt. was reputable. She assured me that the other realtor had a very good reputation. I went through all the usual preps, got the sick people comfortable and settled in the car and when I got home I could tell they had hadn't even come inside.
Are there any realtors who offer to vet showing appts for their clients?

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Wesley, Home Buyer, Landenberg, PA
Wed Nov 11, 2009
as a recent homebuyer, my perspective is slightly different. i never looked at a house that i wasn't qualified to bid on, but that's me. that said, i saw DOZENS of houses from the curb that just weren't right...but it took going to the curb to know it. the stats were good (lot size, bedrooms, garage, etc, etc), the price in the right range, even nice pictures on the agent's website, but seeing it at the curb told me everything that i needed to know: not even worth going in because i'd never bid, not even lowball.

i did a lot of homework on my own, so there were many "drive-bys" that i did without troubling an agent or the seller -- but this was also for my benefit, as i wasn't moving far from my last home and could evaluate a bunch of houses in a couple hours after work. for someone relying more heavily on an agent or moving from farther away, this isn't always possible or convenient.

for me, i knew what i wanted, but there were enough intangibles about it that it was difficult to articulate clearly. so many homes that seemed to fit the bill just didn't when i saw them. when i saw the house i ultimately bought, i knew right away. liked it from the curb, went through it on a friday evening, again on sunday and made a bid on monday.

there's a lot to selecting a place to call home and a big part of it isn't rational, so while there may be a number of folks out there who aren't really serious or qualified, it might just be that they don't see themselves living there for reasons that having nothing to do with seriousness or qualifications.

i think the pros here have made some excellent points about showing and price, but thought my buyer's perspective might be useful to you.

hang in there! good luck!
2 votes
Kevin Olson,…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Tue Oct 12, 2010
Hello Beth,

Realtors should always have buyers approved before they start showing homes.

*Please understand that calling another Realtor to see if the buyer is really approved can create friction that could potentially affect things later should they be interested in your home. This is just to inform you as to why some may choose not to verify.

Your Realtor can put in the MLS showing instructions that all buyers must be pre-approved before showing the home, and if this is violated the Realtor showing the unapproved buyers is subject to discipline. Myself as the listing agent, if I am familiar or have done business in the past with a Realtor, I will trust that they are doing the job correctly. If I know the Realtor is newer or inexperienced (few transactions) I will require verification so the seller's time is not wasted.

Best Wishes,
1 vote
Joanne Malo, , Malvern, PA
Tue Oct 12, 2010
All realtors should know their clients' ability to buy the houses shown. Most realtors have their clients prequalified, and even preapproved prior to showing them houses. But not always in the real world. However, with the price of gas, and buyers who are very motivated waiting, very few realtors would wander around showing houses to people they know can't buy, or won't buy.
Your frustration is understandable, and because the market is so sluggish, selling takes awhile. So all the preparation and cleaning is helping to show your home at its best, and your listing agent is advertising it, holding open houses, and keeping up with your competition. It's a team effort. The agents showing the house are hoping for a sale, too... believe me. Many houses are not getting any appointments... at least you have showings and activity. When an agent doesn't bother to show up, or his buyer refuses to go in the house (steep driveway? busy road?) he should call the listing office number to cancel and explain why. Good luck with your sale... it sounds as though you have a great house.. and hopefully someone will love it and buy it soon! Joanne Malo, Prudential Fox& Roach, Malvern. 484-432-6826
1 vote
Guy Gimenez, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Nov 1, 2009
Unfortunately, the issue you're dealing with is one of professionalism and business sense, not ethics.

In the down economy, most anyone who is bored on a Sunday could call 10 agents and ask to see a multiple homes, and 8 of those agents wouldn't even ask your name. They're hungry for business and therefore will gladly play taxi cab for most anyone who calls with the hope that something might come from it.

I wish I could honestly tell you what you're experiencing is the exception rather than the rule, but I can't. You can't control what agents (other than your own) do or how they run their business which makes things very frustrating. Hopefully, your agent told you what I tell all my sellers. Selling a home is more often than not a royal pain in the rear because there are so many different people involved...buyers, buyer agent, inspector, lender, title company / attorney, etc., and one of them can cause a problem in a transaction.

It is a profesional courtesy to call the owner if the buyer's plans have changed and they decided not to look at a home that was already scheduled for a viewing. As you now know, one person's perception of professionalism differs vastly from another's.
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1 vote
Pat Moyer, , West Chester, PA
Sun Nov 1, 2009
Beth, lots of good thoughts and comments from others already. One question that went through my mind when you talked about all of your efforts in getting your home "ready to show". Is it easy to show your home? If I called from the curb could I expect that you might say "just give me 10 minutes to do a couple things" or would you say that you need a couple hours or a day before I could come in? Real Estate is a business where the "word" gets around about a "great house", "that house with the iguana", or "that house that's hard to show". Most of us understand that people are living in a home and on any given day it might not meet the sellers expectations for "showing". Sometimes a buyer buys a home where the beds aren't made and the dishes are in the sink.

I would also echo the questions about pricing. Ask your agent for information on the absorption rate in your area and price range. That will tell you how long it will take to sell all of the homes currently for sale and give you an idea of your time to sell. You might need to make some changes. Listen to your real estate professional and if you aren't getting good answers or ideas tell them they aren't meeting your expectations and see what they can do to make changes. Selling a home takes coordination and cooperation from seller and agent.
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1 vote
Mia Sophia M…, Agent, Claremont, CA
Sun Nov 1, 2009
Hi Beth,

Definitely, your attention to detail should be commended as you are doing everything you possibly can to sell your house and help your listing agent, which is great! Seller cooperation is what every listing agent needs and wants. Keep in mind though, the most important thing about your house is the PRICE so i hope you are priced correctly and competitively since ultimately that is what will bring the buyers into your house and get them interested. I'm not in Philly but I'm sure there's alot of competition on the market. Your house should not only be the best looking in the price range, it should be the lowest priced home out of all the comps. And by lowest priced, i don't mean a few thousand dollars but something substantial to get buyers excited. For instance, if all the other houses similar to yours in age, size, and neighborhood average should be a good 10k - 15k cheaper and the lowest comp. That will give you a competitive edge and get the buyers in the door. No one is going to pay you more money because you washed your windows....clean windows are great but you may be focusing on the wrong thing.

Also, try not to obsess or get completely anal about the showings. Keep your home nice and clean but if it looks a bit lived in, that's OK! And you have have to expect that some showings are just looky-loos, some may be not qualified, and some may not be even ready to buy but you still got to let them look if you want as mayny opportunities as possible to sell your home. That's just the way it is and you have to accept that. Think about it, if you owned a clothing store are you going to grill each and every person that walks through the door and demand to see their money or credit card balance? No, of course not! That would be ridiculous and after a while, no one would want to go near your store no matter what you had in there. Same thing goes with your house! I'm sure the showing agents try their best to qualify their buyers as they don't want to waste thier time either but you cannot alienate your client or come off demanding or else they are going to go elsewhere. It's a delicate balance.

My advice to you is to continue to cooperate with the showings and keep the house tidy but you don't have to go overboard like you have been! Stick the dog in the garage or for a walk but he doesn't have to go to doggie daycare...that's a bit crazy! Lighten up a bit, make sure your pricing is the lowest around, and you are bound to get some bites. And the bottom line is that no matter how low you think you have priced your house, if no one is making an's still not low enough!!!!!!
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1 vote
Sharon Sapp, Agent, Reading, PA
Sun Nov 1, 2009
Our office has a policy to only take out pre-approved buyers. If a buyer changes their mind before we go out, we try to call and cancel the appointment, but we don't always know in advance. Even with good, solid buyers, sometimes when they see a home there is something that they don't like and don't want to waste their time going through it. In particular, buyers who have not ever sold a home will do this since they really don't know all the work a seller puts into a home to make it "showable". If I think it might really be right for a buyer, I may try to convince them to go through it anyway since we're there but that doesn't always work. The bottom line is that Realtors, no matter how good they are, are dealing with other human beings. Some are thoughtful, some are not. Ask your Realtor to contact the buyer's agent and ask why they didn't go through your home. Maybe something is missing on your curb appeal, maybe the buyers had an emergency or maybe your home just wasn't right for them.
1 vote
Mina Lum, , Hudson County, NJ
Sun Nov 1, 2009
There is no code of ethics with regard to showing of homes. It will really depend on the "relationship" that the realtor has with his/her client as to whether or not they will follow through with the appointment. First of all, my process IS to try and pre-qualify my clients before we start viewing homes. This will allow us to actually see homes that they can make an offer on IMMEDIATELY if they like it e.g., meets their criteria. As the consultant for the client it is my job to make sure we do not "waste" anyone's time. That being said sometimes a house is priced in our range but it may not be "priced right" e.g., should be lower or higher so if we "drive by" we may decide to pass. Very infrequently we may run out of time and need to reschedule. This happens when we have seen a few homes that ARE of interest and more time is taken to view them. In that case, the agent to call to cancel the appointment. It's not really about code of ethics but it is the level of professionalism and courtesy that each of us should have for both buyer(s) and seller(s). Hope this helps...
1 vote
user05206381, Landlord,
Thu Jun 15, 2017
Realtors ethics when showing a "home"
Asked by user05206381, • Yesterday at 3:43pm
It looks like they missed teaching "showing ethics" to realtors, so please:
Turn lights off
close back patio screen doors
lock patio doors
respect the time frame you scheduled for the showing, don't arrive earlier, later or on a different day then argue in front of the prospect by saying you were right
don't pull the storm door if it's locked from the inside, don't assume no one is home, knock before coming in
don't use or let your clients use the toilet, it’s disgusting
respect our "home" where we live as you would want others to respect yours
The above comments are merely common sense, unfortunately some realtors don't have common sense
0 votes
Nancy R Riley…, , Tiburon, CA
Thu Feb 24, 2011
Great comments! Beth, if you are getting people to look at your house and are not getting offers you might ask the agent seeking the appointment to see your house if the prospective clients have been pre-qualified, or preferably pre-approved by a Lender. A pre-qualification can be done by a real estate agent, however, a pre-approval has to be done by the Lender. Of course, this will discourage people to look at your house. During this slow time when there are lots of home for sale, and not enough buyers, you may accept the fact that if your house is not readily available to show, your chances of getting "any" offer diminish. Also, you might ask the agent to give you a courtesy call before they come to the appointment. Happy selling!
0 votes
Old posting, I know. But I just found it, so it's new to me. I'd say to your comment:

"A pre-qualification can be done by a real estate agent, however, a pre-approval has to be done by the Lender. Of course, this will discourage people to look at your house..."
Good. I don't see the disadvantage. Why allow someone to look at your house if they are not prepared to buy it?
Flag Wed Dec 24, 2014
Joe Sheehan, Agent, Exton, PA
Thu Oct 14, 2010
As someone who represents both sellers and buyers and also someone who has been a seller and a buyer several times in my life, I appreciate the stress, the the hassle, and the inconvenience of always having to keep your home in show condition all the time. I also appreciate the frustration when a buyer makes an appointment to see the home and either doesn't show up or drives by and decides they are not interested for any number of reasons.

I have also represented buyers who, at the last minute, have had to cancel appointments or decided when they arrived at the home that they didn't like the street, or the neighborhood, or the big oak tree in the back yard. I always try to keep the listing agent in the loop when a buyer cancels an appointment and try to let the seller know. When the buyer decides not to enter a listing, I will go in and leave my card to indicate we were there and will provide showing feedback to the listing agent.

If you are not getting enough showings or enough offers, you need to have that discussion with your listing agent. You may want to review the pricing of your home as compared to recently sold homes in the area, review the feedback left by buyer agents and find out what the buyers who visited your home liked and disliked.

It is highly unusual for a buyer's agent to show homes that they know the buyer can't afford to buy (though I wouldn't say it never happens). I think an effective strategy for you though is to have the honest and straightforward discussion with your own agent about why your house is not attracting buyers and offers.

Wish you all the best. I hope that is helpful

Joe Sheehan
Keller WIlliams Real Estate
Exton, PA 19341

Office: (610) 363-4300
Mobile: (484) 948-0936
0 votes
FSBOsuccess, Home Seller, 28590
Mon Mar 22, 2010
I agree with what everyone has said here. Realtors in my area use a showing service to schedule appointments. I like it because the agents are also asked to leave feedback so you know the positive and negative reactions. Even with this service, I had a recent agent schedule a showing while I was out of town. I was glad because I left my house clean and the dog was already at the kennel. Waited to get the feedback. Only to find out from it that he never even showed the house. My beef with him was that while I understood that the buyers put in a contract on a home they saw earlier in the day, he never notified the showing service to cancel the appt so that I could be notified. He gave a 2 hour window for the showing and I would have gotten off work early to have the dog away from the house for nothing if I had not been out of town. RUDE!

Some realtors are the few bad apples in the barrel.
0 votes
Mindy Dotson, , Madison County, MS
Mon Mar 22, 2010
Beth, there are no guarantees. We agents cannot control other agents and their actions, nor their clients. The clients may have not looked the outside of the home, or the neighborhood once they saw everything in person. A photograph can only show so much, and all Realtors can't see every home on the market before they show someone homes. Yes, the most courteous thing to have done would have been to call your agent or you to let you know that they were finished viewing or that they chose not to look. It is embarrasing to the agent to not show the home, when they have gone through the effort to set up the appointment with the seller's agent or the homeowner. It is especially bad when the homeowner had to go to so much inconvenience with sick family. Next time, just tell your agent to reschedule at a more convenient time for you. Most buyers look more often than one time out.
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0 votes
Gita Bantwal, Agent, Jamison, PA
Mon Mar 22, 2010
Beth, You have already received advice from others. I just want to add that if the kids are not well it is ok to call your agent and cancel the appointment. I would advice you wait till you see the agent in the driveway before leaving the house with the kids. Sometimes buyers cancel appointments at the last minute etc.
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0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Wed Nov 11, 2009
GREAT question however many realtors can work with a family who choice run very slow of touring a homes, or like a home determine cancel remaining homes schedule

Realtors may not consider canceling an appt. notify the home owner .

Recommend WHEN you see a car pull then vacate home other than that hang there a Realtor may not show up.

I understand frustrations.

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0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed Nov 11, 2009
No code of ethics concerning showing houses, not even a standard of practice.
I know that selling the home you're living in is stressful, but I ask my sellers to just make the best of it, prepare and act as if every visitor is THE ONE, and repeat until closing.
0 votes
Carmen Di Bi…, Agent, Nyack, NY
Sun Nov 1, 2009

Since the other responders addressed your showing concerns, I would like to address the issue of time on the market and lack of offers. From your description, appears your house has been on the market quite some time. You say the last buyer didn't appear to even enter the house.

When this is the case, it is usually because there is a strong disconnect between what the buyer thought he would be seeing and what actually is. Have you taken an objective look at your home from the outside? If you cannot be objective, ask a friend or family member to do it for you. If the outside appearance does not correlate to the asking price, buyers will balk at entering. While a realtor can "drag" a client inside, it is hard to overcome that first impression. If there are exterior issues beyond your control, i.e. unattractive neighborhood, your price has to reflect it. If the issues are within you control, fix them or adjust your price accordingly. It may actually take a combination of both to attract the qualified buyer.

Did your realtor give you feedback from buyers agents who showed the house? If not, make sure she does then heed what the buyers are saying.
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Sun Nov 1, 2009
In a nutshell, sometimes when we arrive at a home, the buyers reject it from the street. Even reputable realtors schedule first appointments with buyers who arrive and oops, forgot their preapproval or "don't worry, I can afford it". Not everyone does everything the way we want them to when we want them to. Selling a home is stressful, go with the flow and bear with it. If you haven't had a showing in 40 days I suggest you take a hard look at the price. If people are rejecting your house from the curb, take a REALLY hard look at your price.
0 votes
Lori Jeltema, Agent, Suffolk, VA
Sun Nov 1, 2009
You can specifiy 'purchaser must provide preapproval letter to listing agent prior to scheduling a showing'. Unfortunately, we often get 'preapproval' letters that aren't worth the paper they are on. For a while, the wording was 'preapproval from local lender' or something simliar. Sometimes, we make the appointment for the buyer and they tell us when we arrive to skip it for various reasons. they may not realize until after arriving that they don't like something about the positioning or location of the house but again, we don't know that until we arrive and would not want to risk judging the house for our buyers and telling them to not bother. Hope everyone is feeling better.
0 votes
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