I am glad that the current president of Greater Chattanooga Realtors brought up the discussion of competence in a recent Chattanoogan article. After what we experienced during the period our home was listed for sale last year, I have a few remarks about the incompetence of a number of licensed individuals showing our home to prospective buyers.
There are enough challenges for homeowners who are selling their home without having to deal with careless, unprofessional agents showing it.
From the first day our home was shown until a few weeks prior to the closing, we had recurring issues, particularly with agents who seemed incapable of operating a simple alarm system. Before an agent can show a home to prospective buyers, he or she must make an appointment through the showing service, which confirms that the home is available to show at the requested time. Showing instructions were sent by both email and text, with the passcode to access the lockbox to obtain the key, along with the showing alarm code to operate the alarm. Unfortunately, many agents who showed our home either set off the alarm upon entering by not entering the alarm code promptly, or they failed to rearm the alarm prior to leaving, in spite of the listing agent’s huge sign reminding them to do so on the back of the front door. There were also detailed instructions next to the alarm how to disarm and rearm it, including a diagram indicating which button to push and a reminder that "If you don't see a red light, the alarm is not on." When feedback is given after a showing that, “The alarm was too hard to operate,” it meant that an amateur who didn’t preview the instructions or bother to read the posted signs showed our home. One of the most ridiculous suggestions was for us to leave the alarm off prior to a showing. What would we have told our insurance company if something happened in the interim and we had to explain after an incident that we didn’t have the alarm on? Does anyone want to gamble whether the insurance company will honor a claim in that case?
We also dealt with other issues: numerous lights being left on, deadbolts left unlocked, a basement window unlocked and left completely unlatched, a back door that was left unlocked and blown open that set off the alarm, interior doors that were locked prior to showing that were found unlocked and sometimes wide open (including two in finished rooms that opened to an unfinished space, causing the air conditioning or heat to work harder), plus one who flipped a basement switch and cut off the power to the heat on the main floor.
If that’s not enough, one agent made an appointment for one day, showed up another day without a new appointment, then set off the alarm. Since there was no showing scheduled that day, we had to assume it was a burglary in progress and acted accordingly.
Because of frequent, careless behavior by agents, I got to be almost on a first name basis with certain Hamilton County sheriffs who responded to the false alarms to meet me there. We were fortunate that we only lived 10 minutes from our old home, but I grew very tired of having to go over to make sure that the house was secure after every showing, which sometimes meant multiple trips in a single day.
I wonder why Greater Chattanooga Realtors doesn’t fine agents for some of these careless mistakes? Our realtor shared some of my emails about these problems with the organization, but no satisfactory feedback was ever provided.
I know we were not alone with this issue, as I have talked to other realtors who have told similar horror stories about some of their listings.
Considering how much homeowners have invested in a home for sale, whether it is vacant or still occupied, every one of them deserves to have only professional agents who follow a checklist in the opening and closing of every listing that they show. Agents also need to be aware of the potential personal liability if their carelessness leads to theft from or damage to a home that they have shown without being sure it was left in the condition that they found it.