I received a call at 7:30pm the other night from a lady I had spoken to a few times on the phone but hadn’t met yet. She was standing in front of a vacant and foreclosed home with a relative, and they needed to see the house RIGHT NOW. I attempted to get them to agree to set up an appointment during one of the following days and they refused. Instead, they strongly requested that I just give them the combination to the lock and when I said no, they again insisted on seeing the home ASAP. Because I wasn’t being accommodating, they decided to call other agents to get access, so we decided we would not meet in the future after all. I wasn’t saying “no” to be a pain in the butt. Here are the reasons why appointments, especially the first appointment, need to be planned:
Safety: It is a poor idea for a real estate agent to go to any listing to meet people she doesn’t know. When circumstances make it possible, I prefer to start the first appointment in my office so I can meet the buyers, discuss the process we are undertaking, and take care of required disclosures. I will on occasion meet people for the first time at a house, but only when I am already convinced I will be safe. Meeting at night, at a vacant house, is a risk I will not take.
Sellers: In this case, there was no seller that needed to prepare the home to be seen, but often, the sellers still live in the house and need to not only straighten up and prepare their home, but they need to get out of the house with their children and pets so that the buyers are able to properly view the home. Some sellers are great at getting the house ready with only an hour or two notice, but late at night, most people are already relaxing and getting ready for an evening in, and late night appointments are rarely a “go” unless they are planned well in advance.
Seller’s Agent/Office: Often, making an appointment to show a house requires not only the buyer and buyer agent being available, but the seller’s office needs to be available to coordinate the appointment. Most requests go through that office and are then confirmed with the seller. Most offices close at 5pm, and it is often difficult to get in touch with anyone to get a confirmed appointment after that time.
Time Required: I personally support an area of nearly 800 miles. I can be much more flexible with showings of homes that are in my town. If I can get there in 10 minutes, I’m more apt to be more able to handle impromptu appointments than if it takes me an hour to get there. In the case above, the house they wanted to see was 45 minutes away. Even if I had felt safe and could have made an appointment, it would have required two hours of my night which in this case wasn’t going to happen.
Research: I like to know the details of the houses before I show them. This not only means reviewing the photos and specs of the MLS listing (if it’s a home I haven’t seen before), but doing a check of the taxes with the county, the house sale history, the flood zone, and more. I can do that research pretty quickly but it is a step I like to prepare for both my new and existing clients.
Giving out passcodes: This is absolutely not going to happen on my watch. No one is able to have the codes to enter a home except for real estate professionals with confirmed appointments. End of story.
In summary, appointments typically need to be scheduled ahead of time, especially for new clients. This does not mean I will never meet people at the spur of the moment, or that I won’t do appointments at crazy times. So far, the earliest time I’ve showed a home was 7am for a client that just couldn’t get there at any other time. I think the latest was probably around 8pm, but it was scheduled ahead of time. I’ve run out to show a house with only a few minutes notice when circumstances allowed. These, though, are the exceptions. Typically, the reasons above explain why appointments really need to be planned.