July 27th - 2014

Etiquette and best practices for real estate showings

Security is important to consumers and it’s one of the reasons they choose to use a REALTOR®.

Realtor showing property

Realtor showing property

Security is important to consumers and it’s one of the reasons they choose to use a REALTOR®. People take comfort in knowing that their biggest asset is in the care of someone who will protect their interests.

Showings are a necessary part of our business. When people in our field take shortcuts or forget to take steps that respect the security and time of other parties, it reflects badly on our industry as a whole. I know we’re all busy, but I feel that etiquette sometimes gets forgotten in the midst of our hectic schedules. New and seasoned registrants may benefit from these suggestions on etiquette and best practices at showings.

Lockbox – Arrange some training or demonstrations at your brokerage to practice accessing different styles of lockbox. I prefer lockboxes that require a key to change the code and to remove the lockbox itself, since this version provides the most security. I change codes frequently, sometimes nightly, depending on the number of showings. If you encounter a lockbox with a dial or rolling numbers, don’t leave those numbers in that position afterward or passers-by can see the code. If you can’t open the lockbox at the start or end of your showing, call the seller rep immediately. I recently had a situation when I found an empty lockbox. The buyer rep couldn’t open it and left the key under the doormat, but didn’t tell me. Panic ensued while I tried to find the key and investigate which reps had visited. Always put the key back in the lockbox and secure it before leaving, or notify the seller rep if you must do otherwise. Don’t just leave. You are responsible, and if there’s a problem, you’re the one who’ll be accused.  

Hand unlocking doorDoors and windows – If a door or window gets unlocked, make sure to lock it again before leaving. This spring I’ve had to placate irate sellers who came home to an unlocked door after a showing. Consumers trust us and we must take a few extra minutes at the end of each showing to ensure that we do not breach that trust.

Escorting guests – Accompany all visitors through the house and keep each group of clients together. Walk behind clients for your own security. When a couple brings children, I suggest that the kids remain in the car with one parent while the other parent views the property, and then the parents switch places. If this isn’t possible, insist that parents and kids stay together while viewing the house. Don’t allow children to roam around on their own. I’ve seen toys strewn across the floor and drawers left open by curious little hands.

Make appointments – It is a professional courtesy to tell other REALTORS® and sellers that you are bringing over a prospective buyer. If your clients want a second visit, make another appointment even if the home is vacant. If requested, give the other brokerage your cell number so you can be contacted if need be. If another REALTOR® arrives with clients at the end of your showing, don’t just pass the key along. Either put the key back in the lockbox or ask the other REALTOR® to show you that they have the code, without letting the clients see it. Verify the code and ask for the rep’s business card before passing on the key.

Punctuality – A showing is a business meeting and should be treated as such. Be on time and emphasize punctuality to clients. Read the instructions for showings. If the instructions say to knock first, don’t just walk in. Ring the bell once or twice and try to hear if someone is inside. Then open the lockbox and enter slowly. You never know if a cat or dog is waiting to get out. Once inside, call out, “Hello, hello, is anyone home?” We’ve all witnessed things that we don’t want clients to see.   

Who’s who – The registrant listed to attend the viewing should be the same person who shows up. If something comes up and you must send a colleague instead, inform the other brokerage. If the sellers think Registrant A is coming but Registrant B shows up, they may get confused or alarmed. It only takes a moment to call the listing brokerage to alert them of a change. I’ve witnessed this mistaken identity problem several times.

Business cards – Leave your business card on a table or countertop before you go. This informs the sellers that potential buyers were there. If you don’t leave a card, the sellers won’t know if anyone came after they took the time to clean and prepare the home. 

Cleanliness – Leave things as they were when you arrived and ask your clients to do the same. Treat the premises like you would your own home. I’ve seen closets left open, toilets used and water on countertops after people have toured. As above, lock up and return the key securely to the lockbox.Eric McCartney Do all these things and you’ll impress my clients as well as yours.

Eric McCartney is a REALTOR® in York Region.

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