This is not the first time I have said this, and it most likely will not be the last, but for the love of everything that is holy ... please, please, please think twice before using a “discount” brokerage.

Some lessons are hard learned, and some lessons are never learned. Of course, it is difficult to learn a lesson from a mistake that you’re not even aware you made. I’m quite afraid that is exactly what has happened in this case.

Last Friday, I had a client contact me about a home that he and his wife were very interested in. I pulled the listing and called the number to schedule an appointment. The contact number given on the listing for scheduling appointments was an automated call center. This is available, with a monthly fee, to agents who do not want to schedule their own showings for their clients. There are both pros and cons to this service.

One of the pros is that this service is available 24-7. The cons are really too numerous to list. Personally, I don’t use this service. I like the personal interaction with my clients when we have showings. Also, if there is a client who prefers 24-hour notice, the call center is very mechanical about that.

For instance, I had called on one listing at 1:45 in the afternoon for a 1 p.m. showing the next day. They refused the showing without asking the sellers because it was 45 minutes out of the “mandatory” 24 hours required. My guess is the seller would probably have made that minor adjustment, but we’ll never know. My client had to be done by 1:30. We never saw the home.

Either way, I was able to schedule an appointment through this call center. I met my clients at the home. The sellers let us in. They stayed while we toured the home so that they could attempt to keep their barking dogs quiet. I guess their “discount agent” didn’t tell them that it is best that neither themselves, nor their dogs, are present during showings. Advising our clients on how to maximize their showings and interest in their home is simply part of “minimum service requirements,” in my book. You won’t even find a sentence about it in theirs.

Although they were gracious, I was able to ascertain how motivated they were to sell. Which is one reason that list agents would advise the seller not to be home during showings; so they don’t lay all their cards out on the table for everyone to see.

After touring the home, I was really quite surprised that it hadn’t sold yet. The home was very well priced, beautifully finished, good use of square footage, and had a great layout with tons of extra space. The home had been on the market for some time. The sellers had also dropped price by $20,000. As I scanned the listing a little further, I noticed the buyer’s agent commission that was offered. Wow. This could almost pay for my gas to get me the 3 miles from my office to show this home. Generous. That could be one deterrent for some agents to want to bother showing it. However, my clients loved this home and so we proceeded forward.

At this point, it was about 5:15 on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, this particular discount brokerage, whose name I am not allowed to disclose, but I’m fairly sure we all know who I’m talking about by now, isn’t open on weekends. WHAT KIND OF A REALTOR DOESN’T WORK WEEKENDS? Seriously, it’s part of the initial job description. Regardless, I decided to attempt to reach out anyway.

However, the only phone number that was listed under this “agent’s” name, even on the agent roster on the Multiple Listing Service, was this brokerage’s automated message. So, I did a web search for the agent’s number. I came up with nothing. I emailed him from both my personal email and through the MLS email system. I emailed him Friday, then again Saturday, then twice on Monday, and twice again Tuesday. No response.

The seller’s $20,000 price reduction was unnecessary. The home isn’t selling because they decided to “save money” with a discount brokerage. A $20,000 (and possibly more) loss doesn’t sound like a savings to me.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jenkirchh@gmail.com.

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