Realtor Myths – # 1 That we deliberately double book showings

I read an article today from MoneySense entitled the “Tricks Realtors Use to Sell Your Home.” Some of the content is so outrageous (and unsupported)  that I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts debunking  it. Here’s the first example:

Buyers often preview 15 to 20 houses before they buy, and if this number starts to creep up some realtors will respond by turning up the pressure. Have you ever arrived at a house only to bump into another potential buyer? While this can occur by accident, unethical agents will collaborate with colleagues to intentionally double-book viewings to create a false sense of urgency. Some will even surreptitiously ask a friend or colleague to pretend to be interested in the property you happen to be viewing.

Does the author put forward a concrete example of this happening: of two agents collaborating to create a false sense of interest in a property? No. But that’s not surprising.  The idea that an unscrupulous realtor would or could “double-book” viewings with another agent shows a complete lack of understanding of this business.

Most often, a buyer wants to see a property at a time and date that’s convenient to them, and their realtor works around their schedule. For example, a buyer will  call me and say, “can we see X property at 3 PM on Saturday?” and I then scramble to book the appointment. This article suggests that the unethical realtor will instead contact another realtor and persuade them to book their appointment for their own  buyer at the same time, regardless of that second realtor’s own client’s schedule.

Nice try. How would I even know that another realtor has a buyer interested in that property?  We realtors generally keep that kind of information to ourselves.

But assuming I can find one, somehow,  (not even sure how that would work), who tells me they have a client interested in the same property, why would they then agree to book their appointment at the same time as mine instead of when it’s convenient to their buyer and themselves? What are they going to get out of it?

If this article is right, and the pressure forces my buyer to put in an offer, theirs is likely to lose out. Setting the logistics aside, why would they do it?

The author seems to think that if there is more than one showing at the same time, there must be something nefarious behind it. Well, that’s just wrong. If there is a lot of interest in the property, it isn’t unusual for there to be two or even more showings at the same time. For example, I listed a property on Monday and there were fourteen  showings booked that day. Of course, there were overlaps.

In my Royal LePage office, the staff who book the appointments always inform the agent who has called to request the showing if the time period they’ve requested overlaps with that of another agent’s showing. It’s up to them whether they wish to go through at the same time, or book a different time. Most go ahead, but that’s their call. Sometimes we go through different parts of the house at the same time; sometimes one agent will wait outside for the other one to finish.

We book in one hour increments but most of us can go through a house with a client in a matter of minutes. It would take quite the act of coordination to make sure that the other agent and their client show up at precisely the same moment that I’m there with mine. I can’t even book my hair appointment with that kind of surgical precision. (And what will I tell my buyer while we wait: “oh sorry, I’m waiting for another realtor to come with their buyer”?)

So, this absurd scenario — put forward by MoneySense as fact rather than fiction or supposition– requires that there be two agents willing to conspire, able to coordinate their schedule and that of two buyers, and that one be prepared to take an unsuspecting buyer to the other one’s showing,  to help that first agent sell a property that otherwise might not sell without a gerrymandered sense of urgency.

Well, trust me: no amount of “urgency” will sell a house that otherwise isn’t sellable. We have Open Houses  all the time where dozens of people go through at the same time without feeling remotely pressured to buy.

If a house is well-priced and/or well-presented, it will sell. If it isn’t, overlapping showings won’t make a difference. What it’s more likely to do is risk putting one buyer in the position of hearing another one state the house is overpriced and that they’ve seen enough. Great strategy.

Tomorrow’s post: Realtor Myth #2:  Staggered Bids


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