Never Allow Unaccompanied Access to Property
Unbelievably, reports of agents giving out lock box combinations, or allowing unauthorized access to properties continues to be a major problem. Some agents may be tempted at times to give out a lock box combination because of a busy schedule. They may also think that it is okay because a property is vacant. It is never a good idea to give out a lockbox combination.
Recently, buyers were let in to a property before closing. They began tearing plaster away from the walls to begin a renovation project; subsequently, the deal did not close! There are more problems here than just the damage—one of those unauthorized individuals working in the property could have been injured! That would open-up some serious liability issues. In another incident, the agent gave the buyer a lock box combination to look at an REO property. The buyer noticed, just in time in the dark property, that the basement stairs were missing! Again, that could have had caused some serious and unnecessary liability issues.
The REALTORS® Code of Ethics Article 3, Standard of Practice 3-9 states:
REALTORS® shall not provide access to listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or the listing broker.
Communicate Clearly: Don’t Use Slang or Jargon that May Not Be Readily Understood
“FISBO”, “Double-Pop”, and “Sign-Jumping” are just a few of the jargon terms we use in our business along with countless acronyms. Be sensitive to the use of industry terms that could be confusing or misleading to civilians! Buyers/sellers may be intimidated or annoyed at language they don’t understand. Use language that is easily understood to avoid communication problems.
Politely Remind Parents to Keep Track of Their Children’s Activities as Children Can Wander and Handle the Seller’s Personal Property
You open the door to a showing and the kids charge in and head off in every direction. It can be difficult keeping track of wild kids. What makes it worse is that agents often report that parents are lackadaisical in controlling their children. It may be uncomfortable to say, but parents need to be reminded that children need to stay with you. Children are fast and can quickly break family heirlooms and other valuables by grabbing, or knocking things over. That is never a pleasant call to make to the seller or the listing broker!
Share Information About Pets
It can be a frightening surprise when you’re showing a property and a big dog suddenly appears that you were not expecting! Agents are put in a very tough spot not knowing if the animal is friendly or not. More often, the dogs are so friendly that the owners/listing broker forgot to communicate the pet information. However, those first few seconds when you come eye to eye with a strange dog in their domain can be very uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous. Moreover, many people are not at ease with loose animals. If animals must remain in the house, please communicate all information about the animals to agents showing your listings.
Animals, especially cats can often be “door darters.” It is a waste of everyone’s precious time when you are chasing a cat around the neighborhood or trying to coax it out from under the bushes! This is time better spent in the house. Again, please remind showing agents to be aware if the sellers have escape artist animals. Better yet, see if these pets can be secured by the seller.
Call If You Are Delayed or Must Cancel an Appointment or Showing
Too often, agents are not calling the lister when they need to cancel an appointment. Sellers become livid as they may have spent extra time cleaning, making arrangements for children and pets or adjusting their schedules for the showing. Not calling truly makes the entire industry look unprofessional and disorganized. The listing agent and RAPB often take the brunt of disgruntled sellers’ calls in these situations. Please remember to call and cancel appointments ahead of time.
Promptly Provide Showing Reports to the Listing Agent
This is a courtesy that has really fallen off in recent years. Showing reports can contain helpful information for the lister and seller. With email, providing a showing report has never been easier. You can simply provide a report the old fashioned way also by picking up the phone. Again, with cell phones, it has never been easier to take a few minutes and provide that showing report.
Leave Your Business Card: Do Not Leave Cards that Contain Advertising
Your business card is just that: a business communication. If you provide any marketing information that could be construed as soliciting business from the seller, you may in violation of article 16 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics for interfering with the agency relationship of another REALTOR®.
Leave Complete Information When Calling to Set Up Showings
This problem, although prevalent, seems to be most common for agents that list condo projects. Cooperating brokers will call the lister and leave a message saying that they want to show a unit and leave a cell number for the lister to call them back. This limited information creates a problem for the listing agent. First, the listing agent may not know who you are and what unit you are referring to. A cell number does not truly identify you. You can leave your cell, but also leave your office number and name. Criminals could easily pretend to be an agent, leave a stolen cell phone number and gain lock box combinations to listed property.
When you inquire about a showing appointment, please leave your name, company and office number. Also, please indicate what unit you’re inquiring about, along with the date and time(s) you are interested in setting the showing appointment.
PATHWAYS TO PROFESSIONALISM
While the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS® establishes objective, enforceable ethical standards governing the professional conduct of REALTORS®, it does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette. Based on input from many sources, the Professional Conduct Working Group of the Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for use by REALTORS®.
I. RESPECT FOR THE PUBLIC
- Follow the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
- Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
- Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.
- If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
- Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
- When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
- Leave your business card. Do not leave behind business cards that contain advertisement.
- Never criticize property in the presence of the occupant.
- Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.
- When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock—and announce yourself loudly—before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
- Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
- If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
- Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
- Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
- Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
- Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
- Be aware of—and meet—all deadlines.
- Promise only what you can deliver—and keep your promises.
- Identify your REALTOR® and your professional status in contacts with the public.
- Do not tell people what you think—tell them what you know.
II. RESPECT FOR PROPERTY
- Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter listed property.
- Never allow buyers to enter listed property unaccompanied. Never give out a lock box combination.
- When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
- Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
- Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination. Alert the listing agent immediately if the lock box does not open or malfunctions.
- When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc.). If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism) contact the listing broker immediately.
- Be considerate of the seller’s property. Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities, or bring pets. Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.
- Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property. Consider the use of shoe covers in inclement weather.
- Politely remind parents to keep track of their children’s activities as children can wander unoccupied, or handle the sellers’ personal property.
III. RESPECT FOR PEERS
- Identify your REALTOR® and professional status in all contacts with other REALTORS®.
- Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
- Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.
- Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
- Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
- Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.
- Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
- Do not prospect at other REALTORS® open houses or similar events.
- Return keys promptly.
- Promptly provide showing reports to the listing agent.
- Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.
- To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.
- Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today may affect your reputation—and business—for years to come