Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Showing Properties with Appointments

Showing Properties with Appointments

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately about how people are having problems controlling their sellers and getting showing on their properties for some reason or another...

Why do you allow this?  When I list a property, I tell the sellers how it works, I don't allow them to tell me how it's going to work.  I'm the professional and I know how to get people into looking at their house.  They don't understand how Realtors and Buyers actually work and how they want to make appointments.

In the listing agreement, there is a place to enter the showing information.  I tell them showings will be set up through a company called CSS- Centralized Showing Service.  I tell them that they will get a call on behalf of the agent wanting to show the property and that they will be given a showing window.  I tell them that part of their contract with me is that they will help facilitate the sale of the property which means they should not decline any showings.

In the summer time when I know kids will be home, I tell them I will request a 1 hour notice for everyone to have time to leave the property.  On the weekends, I tell them that I will request a 1 hour notice. 

However, I also tell them that I am making their showings as "Courtesy Call" and not "Appointment Required" (yes, there are sometimes exceptions, but very vevry rarely).  This means that they must leave the house every morning in showing condition so agents and buyers can come by at any time with a courtesy call to the showing service.  This also means, if the seller doesn't answer their phone, no one has to wait for a returned call!!!  I remind my sellers that they need to keep their phones on at all times, and they need to check their messages often in case they missed a showing call.

I do not allow my sellers to dictate when a showing can and cannot take place.  Some sellers need a little more showing notice like 2 hours instead of 1, and that's ok.  But, when I see instructions that say, No showings on Wednesdays or Thursday... or No Showings on Sundays... or No Showings before noon on a Saturday... and things like that, those usually don't get shown because they usually won't work in the route I take with my buyers.  If I can't show them, my buyers can't buy them... I use this same theory with my sellers and they quickly understand that they need to do something with their pets or kids in order to have plenty of showings and the times that work for the buyers, not just the sellers.

If you educate the sellers at the time of the listing appointment, showings will not and should not be a problem.  Take control of your listings, don't let them control you.  If you can't show the property, you can't help sell it, and if you can't sell it, you need to cancel the listing and part with the seller.

Comment balloon 44 commentsDonna Harris • September 10 2007 10:35AM


What about the other what if's out there.

The animals that could be in the yard that normally run the yard. I just showed a home that the owner was taking their two, That is Right TWO large dogs off of the property because they run the whole yard since it is fenced in.

When you take a listing in the country it is much different and I would listen to the clients and try and make the best of the best here not tell them how they are just going to do it. Small animals sure cage them for the day while you are at work.

Posted by Susan Trombley, Broker/Realtor, Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Youngs (Trombley Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Could not agree with you more.... take control of the client, before they take control of you!
Posted by Christopher Benedict, AskTheBigGuy (BIG Realty) almost 13 years ago

Susan, As I mentioned on someone else's blog, and didn't feel the need to put that as a "what if" on mine, if there are dogs in the yard, I have the showing instructions say that the dogs can be completely removed from the property on a second showing with a 24 hour notice.  There is no need to go through the trouble and hassle of removing them constantly for the first showing when you don't even know if they like the house to begin with.

Christopher, thank you!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Very good point.  If the Seller wants to get the home sold, then they need to make it available at all reasonable hours.
Posted by Brenda & David Wakeman (Russell Realty) almost 13 years ago
Donna,  Interesting post.  Lots of weak agents out there who have no cencept of controlling the seller to the benefit of same.
Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) almost 13 years ago

When I take a listing, I give them their options.  That way, they feel that they are getting to choose, but their choices are within what will work to sell the house. 

And there are always, of course, those that don't quite fit into the perfect scenarios - it's my job to figure out how to make them work.  ("The longhorns are friendly, but don't honk because they'll think you'll want to feed them. Just shoo them away if they get too pushy," as a recent example of large animals that can't be removed from the property and might be a problem if the agent and prospective buyers don't know that.) 

Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) almost 13 years ago
Excellent advice and reminder. I wonder why so many listinig agents let the buyer control the "agents" destiny with the property. You make excellent points about you are the professional and are there to do what they contracted for you to do, sell the home!
Posted by Gaylen Thornton (Desert Heritage Real Estate) almost 13 years ago

Brenda & David- THank you!

Bill, Those same weak agents are too afraid to tell their sellers that they're hindering the sale, and they'll never get it sold if they don't grow a back bone.

Tricia, Yes, Farm properties are very different.  You could also put in your showing instructions the closest store for them to pick up some feed so they can feed the animals who come up to their car... j/k

Gaylen, Thank you!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Donna, go get um.  If my sellers don't respond to a call, we have permission to show. So I tell them to leave the house in show condition.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 13 years ago
Donna...preach on, girl! I wish all sellers would be told this info. As a Buyers Agent there is nothing more frustrating than to try and schedule and reschedule a showing with difficult sellers. The sellers are potentially missing out on people who only have a short time to look and make a buying decision.
And in this market you can't afford to be picky on when your house is to be shown.
Posted by Kim Dean, Simply Texas Real Estate - Broker/Owner ( almost 13 years ago

That's right.  You should always take complete control.

So what if it's their house and THEY are paying YOU.

F#$@ 'em if they can't take a joke.

Posted by John Lockwood (Lockwood Real Estate) almost 13 years ago

 Donna, I like this line, "Courtesy Call" and not "Appointment Required" I'm going to have to use this myself. It is clear and there are no questions about asking permission.  Thanks.

Posted by Tania King (CIR REALTY) almost 13 years ago

I guess I am playing Devil's advocate here....but don't you work for the seller..not the other way around...granted you have some good points.....but bossing the customer around isn't such a great need to work together to get the property sold....

and just my 2 cents..I find call centers very impersonal....if I am paying my realtor 7%..I want them taking the calls and setting up the appointments.

I will be honest an investor who has listed and sold a number of my properties through realtors without a problem...if any of them had started to boss me around...they would have been fired!

Posted by BLR Guy (BLRGUY(Beach & Luxury Realty Inc)) almost 13 years ago
I see different angles on this.  One, farm properties are special (and I might watch having them pick up feed from somewhere and feeding someone else's livestock), and often the listing agent should or needs to be present.  Selling agents should take charge to a point with the seller on showings.  If you cant show it, you cant sell it. Having them not willing to show on certain days can be tough to overcome, but raising a family is more crazy than real estate, and  there are days where it just doesn't work.  Perhaps other agents have passed on a listing because a seller needed restricted showing hours.....just because its difficult to show doesn't mean its a a bad home.....sometimes the extra wait or effort is worth it.  Good post....good points....but I think you should have guidelines, and try to stick to them...but you can't treat them all the same.
Posted by Drew Riley (Spa Realty, Inc Team Riley) almost 13 years ago

Missy, Thank you!

Kim, EXACTLY!!  Let us in!!

Tania, Go for it!  It works well for me.

BLR, That is SOOO unrealistic in today's market.  To expect a listing agent to answer their phone on every single ring just to schedule an appt??  Yeah, right.  I have other appts too, and I NEVER answer my phone when I'm out on appt because I give 100% attention to the clients I'm with.  The showing service is much higher customer service than calling a listing agent/office.  The sellers LOVE it and so do all the other buyers' agents because then there is ONE number they call and set up all their appts for the day.  If the buyers' agents have to call 10 different numbers and wait for call backs, that's a big pain in the arse and such LOW customer service.  And, also, I am hiring that seller not just the seller hiring me.  If the seller can't do everything in their power to help me sell their house, I won't take the listing, or if I took it, I'll cancel it if I find they are declining showings.

Drew, Yes, I did say Farm properties were different, and I also had a "jk" after my comment about buying feed which means "Just Kidding".  I understand raising a family, but their goal is to sell their house which means they are opening their house and their lives up to all potential buyers on the market.  They must get past that in order to sell.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago


  You are absolutely correct! I am so tired of trying to get into houses that have all of these crazy restrictions. Buyers agents shouldn't have to explain to that seller that they will be lucky if the client will be in their car again. It is the duty of the listing agent to not allow the seller to have showing restrictions, if they are representing their client appropriately then they won't have these problems. Sure there are some exceptions we cannot control, but I have found that most requests are just plain rediculous and I won't allow it either. 

Great Post!

Posted by Mary McCleskey & Michelle Gumeny (Assist-2-Sell, Home Buyers & Sellers Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago

You are right on the money here.  With all the inventory out there to show - buyers agents are quick to say NEXT! if there are any problems associated with showing a house.  It also makes me feel like a seller does not really want to sell, when they make it difficult or hard to get in a house.
Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) almost 13 years ago


Great blog to remind us all that we are the professionals!!


Posted by Jeannette Morrison, Central Texas Real Estate, NW Austin, Round Rock (Cedar Park,Leander,Georgetown & Lake Travis Areas.) almost 13 years ago

Mary and Michelle, Thank You!!  I recently had one that would only allow showings on the weekends if it was second showing.  Granted, I hate showing on the weekends, but I had a buyer who would have loved this house, but could only look on the weekends because she traveled thru the week for work.

Debbie, Exactly!  If I can't just call and set the appt, there are another 500 listings to replace that 1.

Jeanette, Thank you... I just wish more were actually professional and didn't just call themselves that!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago


I agree. I take charge of my customer from day 1.  As soon as you loose control, you've lost the sale.

Just my opinion, but that's the way I work, successfully, I might ad.

Thanks for the entry,

Karen Monsour, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Posted by Karen Monsour, REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert! (Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach) almost 13 years ago

Atta girl. If our clients don't want to listen to us then why are we there?

I don't tell my dentist how to fill my teeth or my mechanic how to align my tires; that what they get paid to know.

Unfortunately there are far too many that think they are real estate experts (which includes a significant number of our fellow Realtors).

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) almost 13 years ago


You are right, the seller has to realise that the house cannot be sold if no one sees it. I realise that there are circumstances where by we have to be flexible but for the most part the seller has to be willing to do what is necessary to sell.

As far as CSS is concerned I love it and would not want to be without it.  If I am scheduling showings for a full day I do not want to have to call 10 different agents to leave them messages for them to call their sellers and if I am lucky they call me back. By the same token I would not want to be responsible for doing that for my sellers in case I missed a call and lost them a potential buyer.

I do a lot of work in some of the more out lying areas and the appointments are made by the offices and that is bad enough.


Posted by Sue Riley, GRI (RE/MAX Four Corners) almost 13 years ago

I have to agree with you and I must disagree with NOT using a showing service.

When you have multiple listings; to have agents continually call me for appointments is not realistic.  It is not that I not working hard to sell the listing, but if I am with another client I am WITH that client - not fielding calls, which honestly can be easily delegated.

I don't see this as "bossing" the customer around as BLR Guy suggests; it is simply setting the expectation.  No agent wants to spend their time and MONEY marketing a property that the sellers make it difficult to show and sell.  We don't get paid until it sells you know....

If your Doctor says "You MUST take this medicine everyday"; is HE bossing you around or trying to make you better?

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORSĀ®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 13 years ago

Interesting dissenters. <= And I see that one of them even brought their entire brain to the conversation. Nice language.

Taking charge is difficult for a weak salesperson. Maybe that's it.

If your loan officer tells you to NOT APPLY for anything, are they bossing you around?

If your lawyer tells you that you MUST wear a suit to court, are they bossing you around?

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) almost 13 years ago
I must disagree with your point of view somewhat on this issue.  Although it is important to have an understanding that the property must be open to showings, I also believe that it must work around the homeowners schedule.  After all, we as agents are working for our clients.  For example, I have a client who works at the hospital.  He works 3 days a week, 12 hours day.  He doesn't get off untill after midnight.  Now due to his schedule, he has requested that on the days he works, that there are to be no showing the next day untill after a certain time since he will still be sleeping.  I also require an hours notice for all showings.  This gives me a chance to contact my seller and make sure the property is ok to show.  And also allow them to pick up any mess that there may be.  Granted, I ask all my clients to have their property in good showing condition when they leave in the morning, but that's not always possible.  If you have a household with two parents that both work, and several children (especially teenagers), it's not always possible for them to have their home in pristine order.  There are many other examples i could site that would call for some sort of scheduling conflict, and i could go on for a while listing then.  But the point i'm trying to make is, that just because people have some sort of conflict in their life that disagrees what you some buyers and agents typical showing times, doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to list their home.  
Posted by Joshua Talayka (Chase Internatinonal) almost 13 years ago

Karen, Thanks and Good for you!

Jim, Thanks!  And when you try to tell someone else how to do their job, don't you get the Deer in the Headlight stare?  Can you criss cross my tires and not just do front to back rotation?  That will get you some looks, as it happened to me because I didn't know how it actually worked...

Sue, Yes, CSS is great!  I hate it when agents don't use it.  It's less than $25 a month and it makes the agents look cheap and not in control of their own business.

James, I completely agree as I pointed out above.  When I'm with a client, I'm with that client.  I applaud you for not answering your phone when giving your attention to your other clients.

Tom, But I have to have that new car to go in my new garage!!!

Joshua, As I said, there can be exceptions.  However, I completely disagree with your example of the seller who worked until midnight.  Even if he doesn't get to bed until 1am, an hour later, he can easily get plenty of sleep in order to be up, showered, and out of the house by 9am.   In college, I waited tables and bartended and would get home after 3am most nights and got up for an 8am class.  Your example of the dual income with teenages is ridiculous as that's at least half of the listings out there on the market, and those teenagers should be told on day one that they are to keep their rooms and bathrooms in order.  You're making it harder than it is, but if you like to run your business that way and lose out on some potential buyers for your listings, by all means, continue to do it, but if your sellers' schedule doesn't mesh with my buyers', then you're not getting an offer.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
The best price, the best marketing, the best showcasing, won't sell the listing if you can't show it.  ACCESSIBILITY is so important.  It's the listing agent's job to sell the seller on accessibility.
Posted by Dan Forbes almost 13 years ago
I agree with Dan. A seller that limits showings is not motivated. Sellers must be educated to the fact and know its to stay in show condition. Visit your listings often, it helps you both achieve the main goal=sold.
Posted by Keith Perry, REALTOR - West Metro Atlanta (Coldwell Banker) almost 13 years ago
Don't mess with Donna!  This girl knows what she is doing and means business!
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 13 years ago

Dan, Exactly!!  Thank you.

Keith and Robin, I third that one!

George, Thanks!  I just don't like to sugar-coat things... that doesn't help accomplish anything.  Saying what I mean and meaning what I say is important and saves me, and others, a lot of wasted time.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Great post! I am sure you are very tackful about this with your dialogue with the seller..but the gist of what your saying is well-taken....I am usually pretty good at this...but thanks for the reminder.
Posted by Blatt + Cutino, Broker-Associate 831/206-8070*Call today* (Keller Williams Coastal Estates) almost 13 years ago

Showings is the name of the game.  The seller want to sell and the only way is with a showing.  We set all showings and on with the show!  Nice post.

Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") almost 13 years ago

Angelica, Tackful, yes, but still very straight forward and blunt about it.  No point in not sounding firm or they'll think it doesn't really matter.

Tony, No joke!!  Thanks for your comment.

Gary, But there's a virtual tour and additional pictures... just kidding, but I've heard this from listing agents asking for us to just submit an offer without viewing it and then they'll be more accomodating for showings with an offer in hand.... gimme a break!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
As someone commented earlier, I too like "Courtesy Call" and not "Appointment Required" but there may still be exceptions. I also like your take on 2nd looker's regarding dogs about, an absolute must that makes sense.
Posted by Debbie Small, REALTOR (Long & Foster Realtors) almost 13 years ago


That is right. In fact, the sellers shouldn't need much notice to show the property, because it should already be in show condition, since yo'uve already helped stage the home, and have taken all the pictures for the MLS. My personal home is full of clutter, but when we were selling it, I CLEANED it all up, and it was EASY to keep it that way...once it was cleaned! IT's all about getting in to the habit. ALSO, remind the sellers to ALWAYS leave ALLLLLLL the lights on in the house, everytime you have a showing. It's terrible when I show properties, and they KNOW we're coming, and no lights are turned on!??! Do they want to sell the home?? They KNEW we were coming?! I applaud the sellers that do it the right way, it sure means alot to me, and to my clients, that you take pride in how your homes shows!!!


Posted by Jeannette Kohlhaas, (Keller Williams Jacksonville Realty) almost 13 years ago


 Gotta tell you, I arrive 15 minutes ahead of time and turn on the lights.


Posted by Karen Monsour, REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert! (Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach) almost 13 years ago
If a seller does not give me a full marketing week, I then suggest that we extend the listing period to make up for that lost time.  I base my listing period on the current market with a full 7 day, 9AM-7PM week.  Any less availability, I need more marketing time to attain the same amount of exposure.  Showings only on Saturday 1PM-5PM? No problem: give me a 24 month listing.
Posted by Thomas Johnson, SRES, Green (RE/MAX TOP) almost 13 years ago

Thomas, Thomas, Thomas,

If you want to sell the house, work with the owners. You have to work with their schedule, not a normal schedule. What if you are working with a doctor who works 11 pm - 7 am?  Are you going to be an *ss and expect him to allow you to show his house when he has to sleep or are you going to show it after 3 pm? Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.  I was married to a trauma have to give and take here...Not all live is 9 - 5 or 1-5 on the weekends. Get a grip and have a little flexibility...unless you sell homes under 300k... or give them to me...I'll go with the flow, and be compassionate. K

Posted by Karen Monsour, REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert! (Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach) almost 13 years ago

As real estate agents we need to inform our buyers about how to sell a home since that is our job.  The houses that can only be shown on certain days drives me crazy.

Posted by Inside Richmond Real Estate (Inside Richmond Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Courtesy Call is a good line for this. Good post.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) almost 13 years ago

I believe it is of the utmost importance to carefully qualify those customers. If you take just a few extra minutes with them on the phone you'll know whether or not they are (or could be) a viable Client. I don't drop everything the minute someone calls and wants to see a listing...I qualify them first, then if they check out and I believe they are a strong candidate...then I'll roll. That's the best way for me anyway...


RE/MAX Olympic, Manassas VA


Posted by Keith Elliott Jr, Principal Broker/Owner (KEIRE Realty Group) almost 13 years ago

Debbie, Thank you.

Jeanette, Yes, I agree.  I love the sellers that come out and say people can come whenever, I don't even need a call.  I tell them they'll still get a call and an email from the showing service, but that it's great to know they're going to be so accomodating.

Karen, That's possible when you look at one house, but what if you've scheduled 10 houses for them to look at... I would hope you're all in one car and not driving separately to each house.  As for your surgeon, again, there will always be exceptions, but there aren't many people that don't fit the average mold.

Thomas, That's an interesting concept.  I had never thought of that before.

Richmond RE, THank you.

Bob and Carolin, THank you.

Keith, I'm not sure your comment fits in with what this blog is about because it's not really about sign calls from buyers; it's about sellers allowing their homes to be shown, but thanks for stopping by.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 13 years ago
Donna: Here in Michigan we will take ANY showing we can get. The sellers are begging for showings. I don't have to "control" my sellers. I just pray for a showing a month.
Posted by David Elya, ABR, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR - Broker (BROOKVIEW REALTY) almost 13 years ago

Donna:  What I go over with my sellers is pretty much the same as your above remarks.  Then I ask them:  "Mr or Ms Seller... How many buyers do we need to get on contract for your home to sell ?"   They of course say... "just one."   I then tell them that yes... all we really need is one buyer.  It would be such a shame to have the one buyer you turn away because it is not convenient... be just the buyer who would have bought your home.  And then... "Mr and Ms Seller... are you willing to take that chance ?"

That usually does it.  But, Donna, great post... thanks for sharing.      Karen Anne

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 13 years ago