Does your Austin Realtor Know How to Show Homes?

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on April 4, 2013 · 9 comments

Austin Realtor Showing HomesDoes your Austin Realtor know how to show houses? Maybe not. Ask him or her what “Call and Go” means. The answer might be embarrassing to the agent, once you read this article.

I asked my 10th grade daughter what she thinks “Call and Go” might mean as a showing instruction in Austin MLS listings. She’s not a Realtor and doesn’t know much about the business other than what she absorbs through osmosis from Sylvia and me. But her tart teenage retort was, “well, obviously, if that’s what it’s called, you call and then you go… is this one of your trick questions?”

No, it wasn’t a trick question, but I did have a recent experience which revealed that many Austin Realtors actually DO NOT KNOW what “Call and Go” means as a showing instruction.

I had a new listing for which I expected a tsunami of showings and a quick contract at or above list price. Since the seller was departing on a weekend trip the same day I was entering the new listing, I didn’t want him to be bothered or troubled with tons of showing calls and voicemails during the trip. So I entered my own GoogleVoice voicemail number into the listing as the “call and go” number instead of the seller’s. Thus, the listing had agent showing instructions of:  ”Owner Occupied”, “Call and Go”, “Key in Lockbox”.

C&G is by far the most common showing method for Austin MLS listings, and the best way to encourage the most showings. The only status that provides easier showing access is “Vacant and Go”. Other parts of the country don’t do this and instead have elaborate appointment setting logistics. Some are even appalled that we have something called “Call and Go”, as they can’t imagine a buyer’s agent having the seller’s phone number. But it’s common in Texas, where we’re not all uptight and where we actually want our homes to be easy to show and sell. Call and Go does the trick.

Call and Go, as you no doubt assume,  means simply that you call the number, tell the seller when you’re coming, or leave a voicemail saying when you’ll be showing, then you just go. No appointment or other conversation is needed. No return call or confirmation is required. It’s simply “call and go”, just as the name implies.

We Get it. So what?
What I learned when my voicemail number became the call  and go number, was that an astoundingly high percentage of Austin Realtors, almost half in this particular instance, do not know how to show a home per the listing instructions. Almost half did not understand what C&G means.

Example voicemails…

Example Agent 1: “Hi, uh, this is, uh, {agent name} with {agent company}, just checking to..uh,  see if it’d be ok to show your home on {street name} later, like maybe around 2 I think. Uh, OK. Just give me a call back and let me know”. (hangs up without leaving phone number).

Example Agent 2: (Simply sends a text) “Can I show your house today at 1?”
No name or phone number. Doesn’t identify himself as a Realtor in the text. Then calls later to leave a message “Just checking to see if you got my text. I wanna show your house today at 1. I’m at {phone number}, if you could call or text back and let me know if it’s ok, I’d appreciate it”.

What makes “Example Agent 2″ such a blue ribbon dunce is that the MLS comments said, first words, “Open House Noon-3PM Sat”. So, not only does this agent NOT know what C&G means, he doesn’t read the listing comments where the opening comments say “Open House Noon-3PM Sat”, thus going at 1PM would be doubleOK!

And so it went, many cringe-worthy messages similar to the above. Agents acting like the showing required “appointment with owner” or an imaginary “permission from owner” prior to showing. All of these messages required me to call back and say “it’s Call and Go, just go”. Then I would wonder, worriedly, what it would be like working a deal with an agent who doesn’t even know how to schedule showings for his buyer.

The good news (using the term loosely) is that more than half, (if just barely more), left the same basic message script I use:
“Hi, this is Steve with Crossland Real Estate. I’ll be showing your home today between 2 and 3PM. No need to call back unless that’s a problem. You can reach me if needed at {cell number}. I’ll leave a card so you’ll know I was there. Thanks!”.

This is the best script for Call and Go. Short, to the point, unambiguous, clear. Many agents add the “no need to call me back” because, like their confused agent counterparts, many sellers also do not know what C&G means. After hearing the message, they call back to talk about it. Or, unfortunately, to reschedule or try to control the showing by telling us someone else is already coming at that time. To which I reply, “that’s ok, we’ll work that out when we’re there. Thank you”. But that’s another topic – overly helpful sellers who impair their own sales effort by making the home hard to show.

Conclusion
If you’re an Austin Realtor, be at least as smart as my 16-year-old daughter who has no real estate experience. Do as the name implies. “Call and Go” means what it says. And think about what you’re going to say before you dial, whether the call is answered live by the seller, or you reach voicemail. Don’t leave a voice message in which you sound like an idiot who can’t form a complete sentence. You might want that seller to pick your buyer’s multiple offer, and you’re letting your buyer down and hurting her chances when you fumble the first impression.

Many of the aforementioned showing voicemails I received were disastrously inarticulate. If it wouldn’t be inappropriate, I could put together a compilation of the messages that were left for me by Austin Realtors on this particular Call and Go listing. It would be more than embarrassing to our profession. The solution? Get a short, easy script, such as mine above, and practice saying it until you at least sound smarter than a 10th grader. Seriously.

We need to do better as an industry. Is knowing how to show a home too much to ask of the average Austin Realtor?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justine Smith April 5, 2013 at 6:46 am

Hi Steve -

I always enjoy your blog, and I totally agree. We have encountered similar situations but I think that there is also not enough information given to sellers from their agents, explaining exactly what call go means or any other status for that matter. I have personally surprised people after leaving an “I’m coming at blank time” messages – only to find out that the person who got the message never passed it on to the people who live in the house. I do tend to err on the side of caution when making call fist go appointments – I much prefer speaking to someone but if I have to leave a message I really want a confirmation. Nobody is happy when you walk in on somebody without their clothes on (yes that really happened)!!

Best,
Justine

2 Debbie April 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Hi Steve,

Love your article! I have agents call me to tell me what time they would like to show one of my listings and I tell them, “Well, then you need to call and let the tenant know.” Geez. And, Justine, I had a similiar experience. I called and left a message that I would be coming to show a property once and I walked into the bathroom and a man was taking a shower! Talk about a shocker! Haha!

Debbie

3 Robert Grunnah April 6, 2013 at 7:03 am

The thought that most often comes into our mind is that real estate licenses must be awarded like the surprise toys that used to come in cereal boxes. In other words, “Oh yeah, Realtor A, he apparently got his license out of a Frosted Flakes box, because that man clearly didn’t learn anything in Realtor school.”

The barrier to entry in our profession is so low, that it’s always embarrassing to watch the majority of these nincompoops fumble their way through the day.

I just remind myself when I get really frustrated that I am lucky I am not a lawyer, a doctor, or an investment banker. Because if I was in one of those professions, I would need to be quite remarkable to stand out and succeed more than my peers.

As it stands, being a broker with a pulse and a college education, we break records every year in sales. I’m proud of that fact, but it is largely due to the fact that we treat the job as professionals, and not an afterthought. As far as I’m concerned, they should keep the barriers to entry super low; as it ensures our firm will continue to thrive in a sea of embarrassing competition.

4 Larry Allen April 6, 2013 at 10:58 am

I think this kind of ignorance is more a reflection of the broker’s lack of training than it is the agent’s ignorance.
Despite over 30 years of experience in real estate, I just became licensed last year. I am appalled at the lack of basic training that most agents seem to have. Even though this is a self-employed business and agents ought to learn the business, a broker must assume responsibility for the basic training of an agent and this kind of stuff is exactly what I mean.
It’s unfair to assume that everyone has all the knowledge that an experienced agent or broker has and the onus is on the broker to ensure that his agents get at least a working knowledge of the business. It’s certainly not learned training to take the real estate licensing exam.

5 Phill April 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

So… what you are saying is that not all realtors are brilliant??? Humm…

6 Michael @ The Stage Coach April 7, 2013 at 8:28 am

Sadly, Real Estate has no monopoly when it comes to lack of professionalism. I know the generalization is that Agents are a step or two above used car sales people… but reality shows us there are slimy, unprofessional people in every profession.

@Robert – my wife works with Physicians – and like you state, you would think that the years finishing Med School and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of student loans would filter out the worthless, lazy and incompetent. But in her clinic, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Just like just about everywhere I’ve ever worked.

My point being: it’s not as hard as you think to be an outstanding physician. Remember: not every doctor finishes Med School with “Straight A’s”. And the results of their Board Exams are confidential.

7 Ed Neuhaus April 29, 2013 at 9:01 am

Spot on, except Houston and Dallas, or HAR and NTREIS, are not like that at all. Buyers numbers are not in the MLS and you have to use a appointment desk or service. It makes setting up appointments easy, but it takes longer because you have a 3rd-party doing all your calling. In Houston it is actually frowned upon to leave you card.

8 Kerry June 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Many of those voice messages sound like the ones we get on our sales voicemail. People leave messages saying they saw a house where, maybe it was this street or near this bar, and here is my phone number (if they leave that). You have no idea who they are, where the property is that they are interested in, who the listing agent is, if it is a lease or sale property, and why they are calling. The callers often already have a real estate agent, and don’t understand that they should let their realtor make these phone calls. So it’s not just realtors that don’t have good phone manners.

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