Somewhere along the northeast coastline of the U.S., where the lighthouses are nearly as plentiful as the moose, exists the 23rd state admitted to the Union: Maine.

Admittedly, I have never been there, although it sounds nice. Perhaps someday I will go. What I most likely will never do, however, is attempt to sell a home in Maine. Despite the fact I do not hold a real estate license in Maine, more practically, it is too far away, I have no idea what the market is doing there, and I couldn’t possibly do a good job representing either a buyer or seller.

Although Maine may be an extreme example, geographically, the same could be said of Hanksville, Utah. I may have driven through this town of 219 residents on my way to Lake Powell before, but I may have blinked during the pass through so I don’t recollect the details. Either way, I would not attempt to sell anyone a home here. If I did have a client who wanted to sell their home up here, along the Wasatch Front, to move to the one home listed in Hanksville, I would have to refer them to an experienced Realtor who is more familiar with the area and local to the surrounding area.

Generally, when a Realtor refers business to another Realtor, the two parties will negotiate a referral fee. Essentially, you are handing over a ready, willing and able buyer for the other Realtor. Their job is to find them a home and take it from initial offer to the closing table.

It is with this background that I relate my recent experience. Saturday morning, I received a call from an agent. He had a client who wanted to see one of my listings that morning. I informed him that my clients were not currently living in the home so it could be shown anytime, I would just need a general time frame since my clients do pop in and out on occasion. He proceeded to inform me that he was out of town and couldn’t show it himself. He asked me if I could show it to his client.

Frankly, I would love to show the home. It is a beautiful home with a variety of features that could be missed if not pointed out specifically. However, this agent was not asking me to represent his client, he was simply asking me to do a favor for him. I asked him if he didn’t have anyone else in his brokerage that could “do him a favor,” since I was going to be with clients of my own that morning showing houses. He then admitted that all his colleagues within his brokerage were “out of town” because out of town is where their brokerage is located (two hours away).

Since it is in my seller’s best interest to have the house shown, I told him I could show it that afternoon for him. He arranged a time with his client and I showed up and let him in and described the many impressive features of the home. I pointed out the views, made suggestions on what they could do with each of the rooms to fit their specific needs and pointed out the nearby recreational activities available. I outlined how he could convert one of the outbuildings to a game room and showed him where he could pull the plumbing in to build a bathroom. He loved it.

The next morning, we received an offer through his agent. We negotiated some details and got the home under contract. Although I could argue procuring cause, I was simply happy for my seller that he could move forward.

Two days later, I received an email from this buyer’s agent. He stated that his client would like to walk back through the home again and he would be in town to do that on Thursday. Since he was still “out of town,” would I be willing to let him in? I informed him that at this point, I would need to ask for a referral fee if I were going to continue helping his client. His response? “I’ll pass on the referral fee. Generally, with luxury listings the list agent is there for all showings.”

It actually wasn’t a question — and I wouldn’t consider this a “luxury listing,” and I would be happy to be there, but he would need to be there as well. Upon further inquiry, he knows nothing about this area, nor the state. He doesn’t live in this state. He just has a license here. He has no idea what the real estate values are in this particular area, or even how hot the market is. There is no possible way on this green earth that he can do a good job or even a slapdash job.

The moral? Please, for the love of everything that is holy, use a local Realtor.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

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