Damon Darlin’s article in the New York Times “The Last Stand of the 6-Percenters?” (with a quote by moi,, towards the end), is a rehash of complaints we’ve all heard before and purposefully provocative. The author was already a little hostile to real estate brokers in some past writings, and he just continues that thread with this little article. (Even Rain City Guide notes that the New York Times real estate blog “The Walk Through” is “surprisingly anti-agent”. Which is odd, as the entire real estate section of the paper would disappear if there weren’t agents to buy the ads. But I digress….)
Anyway, the main thrust of his article is the rising number of discount brokerages threatening the traditional real estate model.
He’s got some good juicy quotes in there about how these discount firms have trouble getting other agents to show their clients houses. Zip Realty, our local area’s largest discount brokerage, doesn’t seem to have any problems, but Redfin does. One of their agents, a Ms. Howard, recounts how she can’t get listing agents to show “her clients” their listings. However, Redfin will show their clients homes for 4 hours for $250.00, but for those too cheap to pay, I guess Redfin expects the listing agents to show the homes for free…..
I, as a general rule, do not show my listings to anyone I don’t know. I will occasionally hold an Open House, but only if the house is on a well-trafficked street with neighbors close by. I will not meet anyone in a vacant house, or even an occupied home, if I haven’t met with them before. They must first meet me in my office, for safety reasons. Between 1992 and 2001, 86 real estate professionals across the country fell victim to violent acts, including 63 that were killed. Between 2001 and 2004, the latest figures available, 25 real estate salespeople and brokers died as a result of â€œassaults and violent acts,â€ according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have written in the past about this business model and the dangers of meeting strangers at vacant homes.
However, if I refuse to meet a stranger at one of my listings, I run the risk of being listed in the Redfin “Hall of Shame” or having a Redfin agent call my seller to complain. If they cannot reach my Seller by telephone, then Redfin will send them a registered letter complaining about me.
“When that happens, Redfin agents contact the sellers and let them know that their agent will not show the house. When they cannot find a phone number, they send a registered letter. When sellers have moved, they track them down through the relocation service that moved them.”
This is just one of the ways they threaten, intimidate and harass agents who won’t do their work for them.
And they wonder why some agents are less than cooperative? LOL!!!
We all remember the murder of Windermere agent Mike Emert, in Bellevue a few years ago. An agent was murdered showing a house in Dallas just a few months ago, and agents are easy targets for criminals of all sorts all around the country.
I urge all agents to not be intimidated into showing a home if they are uncomfortable and not to be afraid of losing a customer or being intimidated by another real estate company or pushy Buyer. I am under no obligation to put myself in harms way to show a house, and I’m sure no Seller would want me to. Our safety is more important than a commission.
Our office, as do many other real estate firms, suggest that ALL Buyers be met at the office first. It is suggested that we photocopy their I.D., get their drivers license and ask for a letter of pre-approval before showing homes. I think this would be a good policy for all real estate offices to have, to put safety of their agents and their sellers first, before the promise of a sale. If someone wants to complain about that and send a certified letter, so be it.
Real Estate Murders from Mortgage News Daily
Law enforcement officials, real estate boards, real estate trainers, and others routinely advise agents to observe some common sense safety precautions.
Realtor Safety Tips:
Always meet a client for the first time in the office. Introduce him or her to coworkers and make it clear that they know you are taking him out of the office. Try to take separate cars but if that is not possible you will have slightly more control if you drive. Do not meet a client at the property, particularly if he is calling on a yard sign. He will already have had a chance to note if the property is vacant.
Get a license plate number and leave it at the front desk. Just explain that it is office policy; a customer who means no harm won’t mind. You might also leave an itinerary for your house tour.
Don’t identify a property as vacant to a caller on an ad or sign.
When showing property to a stranger, follow rather than lead him through the house. Don’t let him get between you and the door. At an open house, take up a position as close to the door as practical.
Always carry a cell phone where it is easily accessible (not in the purse you left in the car or stowed in a kitchen cabinet.) Make sure emergency numbers are programmed into the speed dial.
Ask the office manager to control keys to the office and to place deadbolts on the doors. If you are alone in the office at night draw the shades and do not admit anyone you do not know well and trust.
Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, if anything raises the hair on the back of your neck escape the situation immediately. You might feel like an idiot but don’t worry about it.
More comments on the New York Times story by Damon Darlin:
If Bill Clinton ran Redfin on Bloodhound Blog
Work the Numbers: Redfin’s not much of a business by Greg Swann