Is Your Agent REALLY Working for YOU?

An interesting email arrived recently from my profile on one of the online services I use.  It was fairly anonymous simply saying that a prospect wanted me to email them about selling their home as quickly as possible.  It gave no information other than that, but since consumers tend to want their anonymity, I decided to respond courteously and offered to assist.

The prospect replied me very quickly, but only said "I have a contract with remax but they have not shown the house.  I thought that you might have a buyer.".

Interesting.  There was no mention as to the COUNTRY, let alone city or area where the house was, price range, type of home....absolutely nothing.  After all, these online venues are global.  Again, though, it did occur to me that people often do make assumptions, and not knowing what the writer had BELIEVED she had furnished me when she submitted the online form (sometimes it's easy to think the website itself is supplying a certain amount of "content" to the person you're writing it's best not to be too quick to judge), again I responded.  In that response, though, was information that you, too, might find helpful.  One thing is true of real estate (as it is of nearly any other industry) people simply don't know what they don't know.

So, here begins our discussion in response to her request

When you say "they" have not shown the house, I don't know who you mean.  When I list a home for sale, I make sure the owner understands that the listing agent's job isforsale4_md_clr not to SHOW their's to aggressively market the home to expose it to agents (whatever company they represent) and qualified buyers (whether already working with an agent or not).  I NEVER commit to personally showing their home (though I often do because of inquiries from signage, from my various websites, from my online "presence" on places like Yahoo, ActiveRain,  Zillow, Google, Craigslist, Twitter, Trulia, Facebook, LinkedIn,, to name just a few).  I invest a great deal of time and resources in getting "found" online...which obviously means the homes I market are getting found as well.
Something else I think it's important for today's sellers to understand.  Yes, the real estate market is down in our area, but houses ARE selling.  But surprisingly SHOWINGS are down from what they had historically been.  The reason is hasn't been all that long ago that when a buyer wanted to see a home they had to schedule an appointment with an agent to show it to them...because that was the ONLY way to see the inside.  Today, with the preponderance of photos online (in our MLS, we're allowed to have up to 15 photos including the exterior front, and we can also have virtual tours...the one I personally use permits up to 50 images whether stills or panoramas) many buyers are viewing the homes that interest them online, rather than making appointments to see them.  And they're not just getting the photos...they're seeing the locations, they're getting demographics, they're getting school information, etc.  The bad news is that not as many people are trapsing through your home.  The GOOD news is NOT AS MANY PEOPLE ARE TRAPSING THROUGH YOUR HOME.  On the other hand, THOSE THAT DO SEE IT IN PERSON ARE MOST LIKELY MORE SERIOUS BUYERS!  They've generally already seen your home online and LIKED IT enough to want to see it in person! 
My suggestion would be to speak with your agent...find out what they're doing to MARKET your home, to EXPOSE it to the real estate community and to potential buyers.  The fact that they personally are not showing it is of little consequence in my opinion.  Now, if they are also not aggessively MARKETING it for you...that's a different matter.
As to whether I personally might have a buyer...since I know nothing about your property, there would be no way for me to tell.  If your home is listed, feel free to give me your address or MLS number.  I'll take a look...and if it appears to be something that might fit the needs of any of my buyers, I'll certainly bring it to their attention.

Please understand, my intent, once the consumer indicated her home was listed, was not to interfere with her listing agreement with her broker.  That's a clear violation of our Realtor code of ethics.  However, I also realize that some agents simply don't take the time to explain things to consumers (at this point, I had no idea who the agent was, let alone how thoroughly things were explained to the seller), and, just as important, sometimes consumers are bullheaded and simply don't want to listen to the very people they are entrusting with one of the largest transactions of their life!  That I've simply never understood!

At any rate, another response followed giving me some basic information about the property, including an MLS number.  Curious, I looked up the listing.  It had decent (not great) photos, and a virtual tour (sort of), but of course I don't know what other (if any) exposure it was getting.  However, it had only been on the market 3 weeks, already had one price reduction, but what interested me most....NO KEYBOX.  In our market that's considered a no-no, so I did follow up with one more response...

Took a look at your listing.  I noted that you have no keybox.  Frankly, you're shooting yourself in the foot by making it more difficult for agents to show.  Right now [city name] has 20 single family 4 bedroom homes under $400k, only 3 of which have contracts on them.  If an agent has a lot of homes to show a buyer (and they're generally looking in more than just one town) and limited time in which to show, one way they make their decision is by how difficult it is to show a property (unless they have a VERY high level of confidence that that particular house will be perfect for their buyer, the more difficult to show, the more likely it will be eliminated).  If you want your home shown, make it as easy as possible to do so.  By the way "mls listed" is bare minimum...find out what ELSE is being done to market your home.

Getting a home sold is a partnership!  It takes a collaborative effort between a seller and their broker, each with the same goal in mind!  It also requires active communication!  As far as anyone can tell, this seller's agent might well be doing everything they can to market this seller's property ... but if the seller doesn't know that, it's easy to believe that "nothing" is being done.  My suggestion ... if you're a seller and your agent is not communicating with you, pick up the phone!  If they don't respond, contact the managing broker.  Particularly in this market, you should expect nothing less!