I met with a new client this week who asked me, “Where do you get the ideas for all these blogs?”
I told her the truth: the ideas find me.
This blog post may have been written at 10:45pm on Thursday night, but it was essentially written by me, in my head, at 5:45pm on Thursday night as I sat in traffic, driving with clients from one showing to the next.
This is my sixteenth year in the Toronto real estate industry, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a worse level of professionalism in the agent pool as I see out there today. Forget knowledge and experience, and don’t even get me started on competence. But just professionalism alone, I mean, well, listen to this story…
I had an appointment on Thursday night and my clients, who we’ll call Jenny and Steve, were at the property ahead of me.
Jenny called me to say that they were at the property, but added, “There’s another agent here and he says he has a showing.”
No problem. Right?
The fact that two agents were there to show two sets of clients on the same night is about as common as the sun setting at night.
“He seems a bit odd,” Jenny told me. “Like he’s concerned that we’re here.”
I told her I would be there in five minutes, and that was that.
Steve then replied to my text message from a half hour earlier and said, “Sorry, I was driving. Just saw this now. There’s another agent here now – says this is his showing time.”
Again, I didn’t think anything of it, until I arrived at the house.
A young couple were taking their baby stroller out of their car, as my clients stood with their toddler on the sidewalk.
I smiled at the young couple, and we all waked up the driveway together.
I got to the front porch, and a man in shorts and a t-shirt told me, “I want you to wait right there.”
I was stunned. I didn’t know if I’d done something wrong, and as a reaction, I said, “Oh, sorry.”
But then common sense took over, and I asked, “Are you the seller?”
He said, “No.” And that was all.
I followed up, “Are you the listing agent?”
He said, “No.” And again, that was all he said.
He was incredibly disturbed for some reason, and I didn’t understand why.
“Are you…….an agent?” I asked, and he said, “Yes, I am. I am an agent with a 4:30pm appointment, and I’m going to go inside and show my clients this house, during my time, and you and your people can stay right there.”
Let’s pause here for a moment so I can give you some background.
First of all, I believe in courtesy. I believe in kindness. I believe in common sense, decency, and professionalism. Combine all of that, and you can see why I was confused by his attitude.
Secondly, any of you who have looked at houses or condos know that it’s very common for two, three, or literally a dozen groups of people to go through the property at the same time.
I avoid confrontation anywhere and everywhere I can in life, and I’d like to think I’m the king of taking the high road.
So I was calm, diplomatic, and rational, and told the agent, “We both have 4:30pm appointments, which is very common in this market. I’m fine to go upstairs with my people while you go downstairs with yours.”
And to that, he said, “No,” and added, “You’ll stay here.”
He finally elaborated, and said, “There shouldn’t be double-bookings. I don’t know why they do double-bookings. It’s ridiculous. There should be half-hour appointments, and no double-bookings!”
A third piece of background here: double bookings are not just common, but they are accepted in 99.9% of cases in Toronto. For a property to not allow double bookings is exceptionally rare, and you would understand that, in this market, the rule would be impossible. If you only let one agent book an appointment for, say, 5:30pm on a Wednesday, or 1:00pm on a Saturday, you’d be turning away dozens of buyers.
Having said that, it wasn’t this man’s attitude that was bothering me, but rather that he was making his own rules.
So I told him, again, rather calmly, “Sir, with all due respect, that’s not up to you. The listing agent chooses whether or not there will be double bookings, on behalf of their seller client. As with curfew, or notice, it’s up to the seller to decide how and when they want people in their home.”
“I don’t care,” he told me. “Double bookings are stupid, and I’m not a fan of them. This is nonsense.”
I don’t want to judge, so forgive me in advance, but this man looked like a part-timer. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, which I might do, in mid-July, on a Saturday, and call me old-fashioned here, but I wear a suit because that’s what professionals do.
“Are you from around here?” I asked him.
“I’m from Mississauga,” he told me, which did make a little sense.
“And in Mississauga, we don’t do double bookings.”
“We’re in Toronto,” I told him, “And this listing has double bookings. Double bookings happen on every listing in Toronto. And more to the point, there are two agents here now, with two sets of buyers, and we’ll all go in together.”
That’s when he yelled, “Get out!”
I said, “No.”
He said, “GET…out!”
I said, “No,” once more.
He said, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”
And this was in front of his clients.
“This is not your home, and this is not your listing,” I told him. “You are a guest in somebody else’s home.”
He motioned for his clients to go inside, which they did.
And then he physically blocked me, went inside, slammed the door, and locked it from the inside.
I was stunned.
Sixteen years in this business and I have never experienced this before.
I got on the phone immediately and called the listing agent, not to complain, but rather to let her know what was happening.
And while some of you might wonder, “What’s the big deal here?” I have to backtrack once again, and point out what should be obvious: this is somebody’s home.
Real estate in Toronto works at a frenetic pace, and quite often, the sensitivities are completely removed. But this isn’t an asset, it’s a home. Inside this house, we see toys, we see family photos, we see the children’s beds. This isn’t a box of jumbo Frosted Flakes for sale at Costco that you can throw in your cart, and then remove five minutes later and dump on a stack of Kirkland-brand socks; this is a family home.
I called the listing agent who was a well-known agent in this area, and told her what was going on. Unsurprisingly, she was livid.
“This asshole needs to know that he doesn’t make the rules,” she said. “What the hell is he doing?”
She was appalled. She’s a veteran, I would guess of 25-30 years.
She called him and give him an earful, then called me and told me to “watch out.”
About fifteen minutes later, he exited the house with his clients, and they apologized.
“We’re really sorry,” they said. “We’re not, like, serious buyers, we just live in the area, and this is the first house we’ve ever seen,” they said.
I then overheard the woman telling her partner, “This is so intimidating.”
The agent had that shit-eating grin on his face and handed me the key.
He said, “Why don’t I called (name of listing agent) and complain about you?”
I tried to keep calm, and I said, “You’re not worth my time,” and then he said, “We really appreciate you waiting, maybe next time you’ll show some courtesy.”
I lost it.
“Enjoy the long drive back to the 905,” I told him. “Enjoy selling that one property per year,” I added.
I’m ashamed to admit all this. I hold myself to a higher standard.
Part of me thinks this guy is a school teacher who sells real estate on the side, or, he’s just a total asshole.
But he got me to stoop to his level, and I apologized to my clients, and told them I was embarrassed.
It bothered me that he was insinuating that I was in the wrong; telling me that I should be the one to “show some courtesy.”
There were just so many things wrong with this situation, and while I suppose this incident could have been diffused earlier, I just refuse to turn a blind eye to this behaviour and “take the high road” by letting it slide.
This agent was talking to my clients before I got there, telling them that they weren’t allowed to be at the house. You don’t talk to somebody else’s clients, unless you’re just being nice.
He objected to the “double bookings” when it’s not in any way, shape, or form, his decision as to how bookings are handled.
He got aggressive.
And then he went inside somebody else’s home, and locked the door.
The listing agent said she would file a RECO complaint. But what the hell does that accomplish? It won’t go anywhere. RECO doesn’t have the resources.
I told my clients that I was sorry, and that I’d just had a bad week of dealing with other agents.
Last weekend, a key went missing from one of my listings.
This happens more often than I’d like to admit, but I have never had a key go missing that wasn’t returned.
Agents showing properties on a busy Saturday might put a key in their pocket and start chatting on the way out, forgetting to return it to the lockbox.
Over the last few years, when this happens, there’s one woman at my front desk who I always ask to track it down. She’s great! She calls all the agents to show the property that day, and talks to them in a way that just sort of works. “The key is missing from the lockbox, and you were one of three agents that showed it today,” she’ll tell them. “We all know how easily theses keys go missing, and we just hope that it finds its way back to the lockbox by day’s end.”
Nobody ever admits to having the key, but magically, every time I have ever had a key go missing, it ends up back in the lockbox.
Except for last weekend.
Last weekend, one of my team members had to drive to Burlington to get a copy of the key from my sellers, and rush back to the condo in time for our next viewing.
Three agents showed the property that day, and all three denied having the key.
But unlike the dozen-or-so times before when this has happened, this key never made its way back into the box.
That means that whichever agent had the key, found it later that night in his or her jeans pocket, pulled it out, looked at it, thought about the phone call from earlier that day, and then threw it in the goddam garbage.
Professionalism in this industry is in the garbage, just like that key.
The agent that tosses that key out is basically saying, “I don’t give a shit about any one, or anything in this business,” and fully acknowledging that he or she is screwing over the sellers and the agent.
Now that’s garbage.
A few nights ago, one of my clients was in her condo, in her bathroom, when she walked out into the living room to find two men.
In her living room.
She screamed. Literally screamed.
And one of the men told her to relax, and held up a business card.
He was a real estate agent, you see.
And even though his appointment was from 6:30pm – 7:30pm, he wanted to her to know that all was well, nothing to worry about, and that he was just here to show the condo.
My client was scared, and she was pissed. Rightfully so.
She called me and gave me an earful, and I listened, then apologized.
Truth be told, there’s nothing I can do to stop an agent from showing up well after his or her appointment window, except hope and pray for professionalism and decency.
If your appointment is from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, that means you were aiming to be there for 6:30pm. Nobody who is looking to show a property at 7:15pm books for 6:30pm. That’s just not how it works. So this agent wasn’t just 1H 15M late, he was actually 2H 15M late.
That’s a joke. That’s what it is.
It’s absolute garbage.
“Calm down, we’re just here to take a quick look,” he told my client.
Her space had been completely invaded, and she felt violated. She felt like she couldn’t say “no.”
I don’t even want to draw parallels here, I just feel sick
Do you know what you’re supposed to do when you’re running late?
Oh, what I wouldn’t do to trade this decent, professional agent showing one of my vacant listings for that jerk from the other night.
And I’ll admit, this is a new agent.
So I’m not going to blame newbie agents for all the problems that exist in the business, because that wouldn’t be fair.
In fact, I think the reason why this agent thought to message me when she was running late, in addition to paging me through the office, is because she’s new.
I think many of the salty, jaded agents out there who have lost the love for the business are the ones cutting corners and creating problems.
I still don’t think I’ve cooled off from my run-in with t-shirt-McGee earlier tonight, but I can’t help it. I feel so bad for his clients who used that as their measuring-stick for the Toronto real estate market, and some of that is on me. I helped contribute to that poor experience. I feel bad for the sellers, even though they don’t know that somebody played “King of the Castle” with their home tonight, turning away potential buyers as though he was in charge.
And I feel crappy for losing my temper.
But I’m just so tired of real estate agents.
I hate them all so damn much right now…Back To Top Back To Comments