Why have the listing agent at all showings?
There are certain listing agents (and sellers) who insist that the agent should accompany all showings. The typical reasons they give are that the listing agent can point out details of the home that prospective buyers might miss and can answer any questions about the property while the buyer is there. They may also suggest that for security purposes, their presence is a benefit to the seller. While that last point is hard to argue (it’s hard to imagine a buyer or a buyer’s agent stealing something in front of the listing agent), buyers’ agents showing properties are licensed and insured. Additionally, robberies are almost unheard of outside of public open houses. As for the other points, while it’s true that nuances and details might, indeed, be overlooked by a buyer, those are rarely the “tip the scales” items that cause a buyer to be interested in the property. In reality, the facts that the master bath has radiant heat in the floor or that the neighborhood has an annual holiday party are not going to sway a buyer who doesn’t like the more obvious characteristics of the house. If the floor plan, curb appeal, bathroom sizes or commutability aren’t a good fit, those details are not going to make a difference.
So why do agents often insist they be present? Because they can’t find other ways to demonstrate their value to their sellers. They may not know how to market the property and want it to seem like they are doing something to sell the house.
Why NOT have the listing agent present at all showings?
Tt may not seem like there’s any reason to discourage listing agents from accompanying all showings (it’s their time to waste, right?)? Take a closer look to understand why you might expressly not want them present. First of all, there is the scheduling nightmare. When a property is not vacant and a prospective buyer wants to see it, that buyer has to coordinate his schedule with not only his agent’s, but also with the home owner to gain access at the desired time. That can be challenging. Add in a fourth person’s schedule and it can be nearly impossible. Consider that the listing agent might have other listings for which she has promised to accompany showings, as well as other buyers who may be interested in seeing properties for sale. Finding a mutually convenient time can be very difficult.
What’s the result? Often, it’s that a buyer cannot see a property he’s interested in at a time that works for his schedule. This problem is especially an issue for out of town buyers who may be in to see a bunch of houses on a single day, in order to identify one to buy. As a seller, do you really want to risk declining a showing request because the listing agent can’t be there?
Another negative of having the listing agent attend showings is that most buyers spend less time in a house and feel less comfortable on the grounds when the agent is there. Why? Because the listing agent’s presence prevents the buyer from speaking freely with her own agent. Buyers often feel like they will look like they are “snooping” if they open closets or look critically at a space. A hovering agent makes close examination difficult. Furthermore, listing agents often seem to feel they have to narrate througout the tour. Not only do many buyers prefer to move through the space at their own pace and in their own order, but it can be distracting when the listing agent is constantly talking.
Should the listing agent be there for your house?
There are properties that, in my opinion, will benefit from having the listing agent present. If the house is toally green or has incredible technology built into it, a buyer may need the listing agent there to explain. A side note, though: if a listing agent is doing his job, he can create marketing materials and set up the property to communicate a lot to prospective buyers. For example, I’ve left table tents in bathrooms that say “Radiant heat in bathroom floor.” When it comes to historical significance, I’ve done my research and produced a printed brochure explaining the provenance. Copies should be available in the house, along with a list of improvements, utility costs, information about the neighborhood/community, commuting options, etc.
So, while there are a few houses that I would agree should have the listing agent present, they are not the majority of houses for sale. When you are listing your home for sale, think objectively about the house. Consider the pros and cons and discuss the situation with your agent. Then make an informed decision about what you would like your listing agent to do.