Austin Realtor or Dog Catcher?

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on April 6, 2008 · 22 comments

I recently showed a property occupied by a large barking dog. The showing instructions said “appointment with owner”. When I called the seller, the voice message said “if you need to show the property, call the agent”. I called the agent who gave me a different number to call, for the daughter of the seller, who the agent said might be able to go take care of the dog. The agent also told me that another agent had showed the property with the dog inside and said it barked a lot but didn’t cause any problems. I might go try it if I can’t reach the daughter, she said. The daughter didn’t answer when I called, so I left a message. Whew, a lot of effort to try to try to show a property.

When we arrived at the property, my two buyers and Sylvia (who came along with us that day) waited in the van while I scouted out the dog situation. Sure enough, it barked loudly as I looked in through the side glass, but it’s tail was wagging. I opened the door, made the required kissing noises in between “Hey there…Good dog..Hey there”, holding out the back of my hand. The dog, barking incessantly, moved backward toward the kitchen and I followed, hoping to move it into the garage.

As I moved into the kitchen, the dog suddenly stopped barking and bolted around through the living room and out the front door, which I left cracked open in case I needed to exit quickly.

As I emerged onto the front porch, Sylvia and our two buyers were standing outside the van, looking north up the street and shouted to me, “he’s gone!”. They told me the dog came out of the house like a bolt of lightning and headed straight up the street and disappeared.

I locked up the house and we drove up the street looking for the dog, but saw no sign of it. Sylvia called the agent and told her what happened.

At this point, what is the proper protocol? We had a heavy schedule of occupied homes still on our showing list, and a time schedule to keep. Do we stop the showings and become Dog Catchers, drafting our buyers into that role as well? Or do we make sure the listing agent is informed, then move on? We continued on with our showing list, leaving it up to the listing agent to inform the sellers and find the dog.

This decision was viewed as uncaring and irresponsible by the upset owners, who called to complain to our Broker that we didn’t continue our search and/or wait at the house for the sellers to get home. On the other hand, I’m not sure our buyers would have been happy with halting the showing schedule to become dog catchers. Also, there were all pre-scheduled showings for other homes we had called that morning. We would have needed to call through the showing list again to reschedule the times. That seems like a lot of people to inconvenience over a loose dog.

While I understand the feelings of the sellers, we followed the showing instructions as provided, and I don’t think me or my buyers should pay the price for a seller’s decision to not make better arrangements for the containing the dog. The dog was later found and returned to the house. I won’t be showing that property again unless the showing arrangements change.

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