My townhouse is listed for sale. There was a showing earlier today, and I found out those “buyers” just viewed my home to see it as a comparable for their own listing. Is that allowed?
The short answer is, no, it shouldn’t be.
When you list your property for sale, you expect that showings of your property are to potential buyers. Unless a buyer or the buyer’s representative discloses it to you beforehand, any other reason for a showing is dishonest through omission.
Real estate professionals have a requirement to be honest with their clients and with third-parties. That means that a buyer’s real estate professional has to be honest with you and your real estate professional.
It is reasonable for you to expect that buyers booking a viewing of your property are doing so with the potential for purchasing the property. If their reason is different, then it is reasonable for you to expect them, and their agent, to be up front about it.
No one wants to have to keep their house in show-home-ready condition, and vacate the premises for a showing unless there is real potential the buyers are interested in buying. This may be particularly true if you have a young family and leaving at the spur of the moment for last-minute showings or showings at bedtime are particularly inconvenient.
There are also things you can do – and discuss with your agent – to lower the likelihood of showings for ulterior purposes. You can ask your agent to not allow viewings from people who don’t appear to be serious buyers. For example, this may mean your agent asks buyer’s agents to only bring buyers who are pre-approved for a mortgage.
As the seller, you control the process buyers must go through to view your property. If you want to set specific times during which viewings are allowed, you can. If you want to only admit buyers who are pre-approved, you can. Ensure your agent writes those instructions in the listing.
Remember, though, sometimes buyers come when you’re least expecting it – and any attempt to reduce showings or limit availability for showings may be detrimental to your listing.
“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by Charles Stevenson, Director of Professional Standards with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), www.reca.ca. RECA is the independent, non-government agency responsible for the regulation of Alberta’s real estate industry. We license, govern, and set the standards of practice for all real estate, mortgage brokerage, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. To submit a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.