A Seller pays a substantial amount of money to list their home with a licensed Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker or Realtor to manage risks and ensure they are receiving the best MLS marketing services available. Neither the Buyer or Buyer Agent is being vetted if the Listing Agent or Seller is NOT personally scheduling showing.
A Showing Service is NOT the Same as a Scheduling Company: Did you know there are companies who will send an agent out to show a home on behalf of another agent for a fee of about $25? What does this mean to you-the Seller? It means the Buyer Agent has chosen to retain the Services of 3rd party vendors to facilitate Showing such as Showami to take their Buyer through your home! Many Listing Agents are also using 3rd party companies like Showingtime as virtual assistants to schedule all showings, and are pitching it to their Seller as an efficient way to obtain feedback. It is inefficient if the Buyer or Buyer Agent are not properly vetted and feedback requests are not being personally addressed as email requests for feedback are often deleted without having been read. It is logical to conclude the best feedback is obtained via a conversation between the Seller or Listing Agent and the Buyer Agent directly.
A Scheduling Service such as Showingtime Does Not Employ Licensed Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Brokers or Realtors – therefore they can’t ask pertinent questions that should be considered when scheduling a showing:
- Is the Buyer Agent personally showing the home or is it a 3rd party contractor facilitating the showing on behalf of the Buyer Agent?
- What knowledge, other than data provided in the MLS, does the Buyer Agent possess of the home for sale or surrounding area?
- Has the Buyer provided the Buyer Agent with a signed pre-qualifying or pre-approval letter for a loan at or above list price?
- If the Buyer is a cash Buyer have they provided the Buyer Agent with satisfactory verification of funds?
- Does the subject home meet all of the criteria of the Buyer?
- What is the timeline of the Buyer?
- Does the Buyer have another property to Sell prior to closing on a new purchase?
- Does the Buyer have any pending legal issues that may cause a delay of closing (a common issue with divorces that have not been finalized)
Many Sellers have argued that Full Service Listing Agents simply do not offer services that are of critical importance to them and therefore do not warrant the thousands of dollars in commissions said Full Service Listing Agents require. Real Estate Brokerages such as Ohio Broker Direct offer ala carte Flat Fee MLS Listing Service Options for as little as $199 which save Sellers thousands of dollars in commissions and allows the SELLER complete control of whom accesses the home and how they are vetted.
Many Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Brokers or Realtors have embraced the use of key boxes for multitude of reasons including ease of access for all, the convenience of not having to be present at every showing, and value of the Listing Agent’s time. HOWEVER, this convenience is not without disadvantages and risks.
Imagine walking up to the door with your clients and discovering you are unable to access an electronic key box due to a computer glitch, often the result of an Agent failing to update their phone, or the lockbox had been disabled. This happens often and is not only embarrassing – it is unprofessional. If the Seller or Listing Agent is NOT personally facilitating the showing to share their exceptional knowledge of the home and surrounding areas, and the Buyer Agent has no personal knowledge of the home surrounding areas, who benefits? The fact is the Listing Agent is benefiting from use of the Key Box because they no longer need to personally show the home—they provide exposure, collect a hefty commission and have taken away the crucial component of personal service and marketing out of the equation, a disservice to the Seller. Over the years there have been numerous complaints of Agents accessing properties vie electronic key boxes without the consent of the Seller or Listing Agent which is not only a violation of ethics, it is breaking and entering. The topic was just addressed in the latest OAR Newsletter and referenced in my previous blog.
How many potential sales have been lost because a Listing Agent utilizing an electronic key box refused to accommodate any other means of access to another Realtor or a licensed real estate professional who is not a member of the NAR? Additionally, while technology is convenient, it is not without risk – if government systems, hospitals and cars can be hacked – so can an electronic key box.
What is a CBS code? Many electronic key box systems allow the Listing Agent to provide a Call Before Access Code (CBS). In theory The CBS code allows the listing agent to control lockbox access by requiring the Buyer Agent to call for authorization before opening the lockbox , however that does not prevent unethical Buyer Agents or Listing Agents from providing that code to Appraisers, Buyers, Contractors, Inspectors etc. without the expressed written consent of the Seller. A CBS code, like any other tool – is easily abused. Many electronic key boxes are not accessible by CBS codes, therefore Real Estate Agents and Brokers who have chosen NOT to join the NAR and Real Estate Agents and Brokers who are members that have chosen not to subscribe to their electronic Key Box system for culpability reasons are unable to access the home for sale. Every Board of Realtors chooses what Key Box system they wish to subscribe to, what access fees they wish to charge and what insurance coverage is available – this means a Realtor who belongs to multiple boards must subscribe to multiple systems with varying regulations if they wish to participate. Sellers have every right to negotiate specific services in their listing agreement, they have the right to be present for all showings and they have the right to choose what type of key box will be utilized if one is used at all.
Joan Elflein, Broker / Ohio Broker Direct
Ohio Broker Direct & its Brokers or Associates assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this blog, we advise all participants in buying or selling real estate to enlist the services of a Real Estate Attorney