Getting Back Into the Business? Maybe You Shouldn’t

avatarthumbnail.jpgThe last couple of days were filled with a considerable amount of blog-worthy fodder, but for today I’d like to share the story of a short sale listing in Surprise I viewed with a client.

Let’s begin with the lack of a lockbox. Last month on Agent Genius, there was a fairly ludicrous debate about the use of lockboxes and whether those agents who use lockboxes – thereby giving access to the homes for sale to buyers and their agents on their schedule, not the listing agents’ – are in fact lazy. Everyone ended up agreeing to disagree under the aegis of “all real estate is local” but at least here in Phoenix, if you want to sell a home you stick a lockbox on it.

So there was no lockbox, which required us setting an appointment with the listing agent and which, in turn, brought us to problems number two and three: there were no directions on the listing and the listing agent couldn’t tell me how to get to the home using anything other than local streets inside the subdivision. (Before you ask, the home wasn’t in my GPS.)

After some debate up and back, and a bit of driving in hopes of finding the right street, we found the house and encountered a somewhat surprised homeowner who apparently didn’t know we were coming. The agent, who lives down the block from the home, arrived about 10 minutes after we did and spent some time following us around the upstairs.

Which actually proved my main point back on Agent Genius – when I’m showing a home to one of my buyers, I don’t want the listing agent around. I don’t need someone to point out the home’s features, I can see them. And the mere presence of a listing agent makes it impossible for me to talk candidly with my client and vice versa.

“Have you seen the comps,” she asked. I demurred but it didn’t really matter. This is a short sale, so the comps don’t matter … what they’ll tell me is the list price is lower than going market rate but they won’t say that the bank is willing to forgive a substantial amount of debt to make the short sale go through. I know the list price is imaginary. Presumably she does as well.

As we continued through the house, she gave me a business card from where she used to be and explained she’s at a new brokerage and is debating whether to get back into the business full time. Along came the usual queries as to how I find my clients (my answer always is “my websites.” What most agents fail to get is that they may have a website, in the same way Tobey has a MySpace page, but they don’t have a useful website.)

And as we’re leaving she said she’s thinking about getting back into the business, whatever that means, because she has three people who want to list their homes.

Which I suppose is well and good except when you consider the state of this listing:

  • No lockbox
  • No description of the home
  • No photographs of the home
  • No cross streets for the home
  • No directions to the home

It almost was enough to where I wanted to tell her to refer these sellers to me so they can get their home on the market – really on the market, really advertised, really marketed – and I’d pay a referral fee. But I didn’t. Let’s hope the sellers do their due diligence instead of settling for a neighbor or friend. Maybe they will. Maybe not.

Either way, this seems to be one time when a one-time erstwhile real estate agent might do the public a larger favor stepping aside to allow those of us really in the business to assist the public at large.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Kyle Pearson 9 years ago

    Actually a pretty entertaining post! I had thought that these kind of market conditions would weed out agents like this, but i suppose that there will always be plenty of people with pipe dreams and poor habits.

  • Jonathan Dalton 9 years ago

    I had those dreams, too, Kyle but it hasn’t happened … all the current market did was raise a new crop of folks who almost know what they’re doing.

    Most seem to be associated with REOs – it’s all they handle and all they know – but it’s not exclusive by any stretch.

  • Portland Real Estate 9 years ago

    Yeah, let the pros handle the industry. Things are harder for other realtors and even clients when there are too many “hobbyists” in the industry.

  • Jonathan Dalton 9 years ago

    There was a post on Twitter about two weeks ago that said something like “Yes, I’m a REALTOR but I work full time in this liquor store.” I’m still hoping that was a joke.

  • Dan Simon - Charleston SC Real Estate 9 years ago

    This profession is challenging enough without having to track down a key on the other side of town or rearrange a showing because of a listing agent’s schedule. There still seem to be a lot of “part timers” out there. There have been many times I have called a listing agent with a simple (but important) question about a property – either you get voice mail and you might get a call back in a day or two or they say something like “I can’t talk about real estate now I am at work”.

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