Fab Real Estate Blog: How Not to Sell a Home

How Not to Sell a Home

This past weekend, I was showing homes to a wonderful couple.

We arrived at the first home to find a handwritten note on the front door:

I am out of town
Home Security Alarm is Armed

Of course, there was no alarm information with the key, nor was there any alarm information on the MLS.  I had already logged in with the listing office and left a message for the homeowner, as was directed in the showing instructions.

I called the listing agent's cell phone.  No answer, so I left a voice mail message.
I then called the listing agent's office to see if they knew anything about the alarm.  They didn't, but they were kind enough to call the listing agent at his home.  Unfortunately, they also could only leave a voice mail message.

We didn't view that home.  We weren't about to set off the alarm system.

The next day, the listing agent called to tell me the alarm isn't really on, so just ignore that sign.  Well, it was a little too late - we finished viewing homes the day before!

It's a shame they didn't get to see this home.  It may have worked for them.  But, we found them another home that they are now considering buying.  This homeowner may have lost out on a sale.

Alarm systems can be a deterrent to home showings.  I know...I've set them off before.
False notes stating that the alarm system is armed will most definitely prevent showings...thus preventing a sale.

Don Fabrizio-Garcia, REALTOR
Connecticut Real Estate & Appraisals
CT Home Group
Keller Williams CT Realty
Connecticut Real Estate and Homes for Sale

Comment balloon 8 commentsDon Fabrizio-Garcia • February 06 2008 09:06AM


Don--I'm always amazed at sellers who don't keep their listing agent apprised of their schedule; I mean, really, it would be nice to know when they're going out of town. I'm also amazed at listing agents who respond to your calls about their listings hours (or even days!) later. Yup, I'm EASILY amazed....

Posted by Lanette Branch, Bel Air, MD REALTOR (RE/MAX Components) over 11 years ago
Sometimes sellers and agents just don't get it! Do they think agents want to take a chance of setting off an alarm? A call the next day is just so very helpful : )
Posted by Sandra Cummings, Real Estate Agent, Guilford Connecticut (William Raveis Real Estate) over 11 years ago

how funny.. why would they say "I am out of town"  the bad guys don't need to know that... and really do the real estate agents???  I think in most cases we go to great lengths in our market to keep that info confidential... we schedule all appointments through the listing office. Some the agent schedules the showing, some a showing service schedules the showing, some the brokerage staff schedules the showing with the seller or gives the agent showing instruction.  They can give out security codes, call before showing codes, special instructions as needed. It's just the way we do it...

A true professional burglar may not necessarily be deterred by a security system but a real estate agent without a code will.

I hate security systems, I understand why they are used but I hate it when I get a code and instructions about where to run, what to push....

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 11 years ago

I thinks it's up to the listing agent to set things like this straight. The listing agent should absolutely not allow this note. If a seller prevents showings one way or another such as canceling a showing just b/c their mother is in town or something like you describe, I take that as a sign they aren't serious enough about selling their home and may not be worth keeping as a client.

I've had a client cancel showings about 5 times before b/c of some excuse or another and I finally dropped them. Should have done it sooner.

Posted by Craig Smith, Frederick MD Real Estate (Re/Max Achievers) over 11 years ago

Even when the agent is informed of an alarm they sometimes screw it up and set of the alarm anyway. That is sometimes worst than not attempting to get in because then the cops show up and then the buyers get upset and you can sometimes loose them as buyers.

Posted by Thomas Santore Lic Associate Real Estate Broker, Realtor®-ABR-Land, Residential & Commercial Sa (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT) over 11 years ago
I'm always amazed at the number of poor quality listings.  This one sounds like a limited service discounter that puts in on the MLS instructing you to call the owner for showings.... As is usually the case the owner is not really prepared to handle the Sell-it-Yourself task....
Posted by No Longer Active (Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Lanette - Yep, I'm always amazed, too.  Things happen...but a sign on the door?  That was a new one.

Sandra - Calling me the next day didn't help much at all!

Maureen - Around here, we typically log in with the listing office, and then call/leave a message with the seller to let them know when we're showing their home.  Anything more tedious then that, and that home will go to the bottom of the list for possible showings.  I hate alarm systems, too.  They can make showings too difficult. 

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Craig- You're right.  If the seller won't allow showings, then it is not worth it to continue with the listing.  If we can't show the home, then we can't sell the home.

Thomas - I once waited over an hour for the police after setting off the alarm on a vacant home. I was not happy.  But, I answered the phone when the alarm company called, and they told me they were sending the police.  Now what?  I waited...until the listing agent finally showed up and disconnected the power to the house!

Dan - This was not a limited service listing.  It is the norm around here to call the seller to inform them of when you'll be showing the house.  The poor listing agent had no idea the note was there, and had no alarm information.  The main problem was that he didn't return the calls until the next day.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) over 11 years ago