According to good ol’ Webster himself, one definition of the word “discount” is: “regard (a possibility, fact, or person) as being unworthy of consideration because it lacks credibility.” This particular definition is spot on when describing a “discount” brokerage.
The following incident is a true story. The names have been changed primarily to keep me from getting into trouble.
Our tale begins early on a Monday morning. I received a call from a client — let’s call her “Glenda” after the good witch in “The Wizard of Oz.” She was interested in seeing a home that she saw advertised online. She was having a difficult time talking because she kept coughing and her voice was very raspy. I asked her when she would like to see it.
“I’m currently down in bed with pneumonia. However, I realize homes are moving quickly, so I think I can be well enough to go by Wednesday. Let’s set the appointment for 3:30.”
I told her I would call the agent and set it up. When I pulled the listing off of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), I noticed that it was listed by a discount brokerage. I’m familiar with the way these brokerages (and I use the term “brokerage” very loosely) work. They put the listing on the MLS, and that is all. The sellers schedule all showings, take their own pictures, and most of the time negotiate their own offers — all without the benefit of real representation from someone who knows the market and deals with real estate every day, all day long.
After finding the number for the seller, I called him and asked if we could schedule an appointment to see his home on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. He told me that both he and his wife work and since they have to be there to show it, they won’t be home until after 5:30.
“Can I show it at 6 then?” I asked.
“That won’t work. We are only showing it on Thursday and Saturday this week.”
“Oh wow, interesting. OK, well, how about Thursday at 6 then?”
“That won’t work,” he responded. “We already have showings at 6 and 7 that night. We don’t schedule any after 7.”
“Hmm,” I replied, “Could we just piggyback on the 6 showing? We would just wait outside until they are done and then quickly run thru.”
“Nope. We have an opening at either 10 or 11 on Saturday,” he offered.
I told him I would check with my client and call him back. Meantime, I’m looking through the minimal photos of the home, obviously taken with an early generation cell phone, and thinking that someone should have told him to at least wash the dishes in the sink before taking the shot of the kitchen. But then again, who would have told him? Perhaps the same person who would have advised him to show the home as frequently as possible, piggybacking agents to create urgency, after staging the home and having a professional photograph it. But then I looked at the list price. No wonder he was getting showings. The home was listed significantly lower than market value.
When I called my client to let her know we could see it Saturday at 10 or 11, she told me she had prior obligations at that time. She asked if we could see it on Monday at 6.
I phoned the owner to ask. He told me they were only showing it Tuesday of next week.
“That is pretty limited,” I offered. “How is that working out for you?”
He told me it was working out great. I asked if he was getting any offers. He said, “No.”
I asked him if he would schedule us for Tuesday at 6 . He said that I needed to go to the brokerage website to request it, then he would either accept or reject the request.
When I got on the website, I was required to register in order to make the request. This involved giving my name, phone number, email, brokerage name, and even real estate license number. It took me a few minutes to do this because it literally made me physically sick to my stomach. Yet, less than five minutes later, we were finally approved to go through the home. Two minutes after that, I received an email. It was from the brokerage soliciting me as a “client.” I reported it as spam.
Tuesday afternoon at 4, I received a text cancelling our appointment.
Jen Kirchhoefer is a Layton broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or email@example.com