Updated: 5 days ago
In real estate, time is of the essence, whether you're seeing a property for the first time, making an offer, or performing inspections. Properties can go under contract less than 12 hrs after hitting the market in some cases. New agents doing low volume might be available more than high volume agents, but you pay a high cost for someone new in other areas (i.e. knowledge, experience, digital & physical resources, etc.).
In this post, I wanted to share more details about various aspects of agents filling in for a buyer's primary agent, especially when filling in for me. I also wanted to share those factors that are important to note when I am representing you and when an agent from my firm is filling in for you.
Above: Marvin Adams, one of my go-to agent fill-ins, who has done over 500 transactions
Expectations for Buyers with Agent Fill-Ins When Adam Garrett Is Your Primary Agent
A. I will typically, but not always, be able to arrange for other experienced agents (depending on factors like urgency, day of the week, holiday timing, advance notice provided, location [especially proximity from the VA Peninsula], etc.). B. I typically select agents with more experience than me (i.e. Marvin Adams, Earl Milligan, Adam Roach, or Donna Hull), especially with advanced notice. Each of those agents has done over 150 transactions (I've done over 100 as of 1/2/23), up to Marvin doing over 500 transactions. If I arrange for agents who are less experienced than my go-tos (my firm has around 100 agents, and it's not permitted for me to have agents outside my firm represent you in a showing) due to all of my go-tos being unavailable, I will still request agents with experience even if they don't have as much as my go-tos. Any agent I get to fill in for me could be better in certain areas than I am, & could be more knowledgeable in certain areas, but they typically will not be as good as me, in my candid opinion, even if they are more experienced than me, regarding the following important elements of showings: i. Digital tools & physical tools available for showings (in my opinion, I'm among the top 1% of experienced agents). While I can't speak for my go-tos on the subject specifically, many agents don't integrate any digital tools during a showing besides what's in MLS, & they often have very limited physical tools for showings on hand or in their vehicle. ii. How thorough I am (in my opinion, I'm among the top 3% of agents). iii. The percentage of negatives that I point out (in my opinion, I'm among the top 3% of experienced agents). Few agents can boast in pointing out more actual negatives than a home inspector on at least one occasion, but I can. Also, there are many potential negatives that go beyond the scope of a home inspection. iv. The amount of educational information I provide during the time of the showing without request by the buyer (in my opinion, I'm among the top 3% of agents). Many agents provide a low volume of feedback during showings even if they are more knowledgeable than I am, while I tend to be highly vocal in pointing out positives and negatives when I represent buyers throughout the showing.
v. Video visuals for those not doing showings in person. That's despite the fact that I am more thorough than most agents requesting fill-ins in ensuring that agent fill-ins have viable video options.
Best Practices for Adam's Buyers with Agent Fill-Ins
It's best to keep in mind that most agents don't point out nearly as many negatives as I do, so don't be surprised when that happens. Because of that, often buyers will get a more favorable impression of the property than if I was showing it to them because they won't get the full picture. Here's more on my feedback compared to other agents.
If you want the agent to check something that I typically check that the agent isn't checking, just ask them. Sometimes they may be in a good position to check and sometimes they won't be, whether due to capability or comfort level. For instance, most agents won't be able to check an attic that requires a ladder for entry since most agents don't bring a ladder to showings, so if you don't bring one, you may be unable to see the attic and any systems (i.e. HVAC & water heater) that may be present in it. Don't be surprised if they respond by saying that "the home inspector will check that".
Buyers Joining via Video:
Be sure to look at my video tips page, such as the importance of using a large screen that isn't too far from your face, having a good signal or using a hard wire connection, hw prior to the showing on the area, etc. Also if the image doesn't appear wide angle at first, ask the agent if they can shift that, even if it takes them 30 seconds or a minute to figure it out.
Buyers Coming In Person:
Because agent fill-ins won't have the digital & physical tools I have, it's a good idea to look at my lists of each to see where you might be able to fill in some gaps when those tools are applicable to showings for buyers. For instance, do you have a ladder for scuttle access to attics in case you encounter them? What about a powerful flashlight?
Here's one published resource to use that's an important digital tool of mine:
If (& that's a big IF) you're permitted to take pictures within the property, it's not a bad idea for you or the agent to take pictures of the serial numbers and brands of main systems that you can then send to me for identification of years of HVAC etc. since I don't have a published resource for those, only an unpublished resource.
Why it's Important for Agent Fill-Ins to be Available
Expeditious showings & expeditious offers are critical elements of real estate for buyers. Some properties go under contract less than 12 hrs after hitting the market, and sometimes by a time a buyer notices a property if they don't jump on it immediately after hitting the market, an offer already received could be accepted <4 hrs after they notice it. If a buyer is able to get into a house and make an offer, sometimes they'll be able to get it under contract before a buyer who was willing to make a superior offer even sees it or makes an offer. I've seen that happen with buyers I've worked with who made an offer before a superior buyer came along willing to offer a better offer but who came/made an offer too late.
Agents aren't always going to be available, whether it's on a day they take off, they're sick with a contagious issue, their spouse needs to go to the hospital and needs to be driven there and back as well as needing moral support while there, they're on vacation, or they have the next 24 hrs already planned with other clients such as a buyer coming in for showings from out of town with 12 back to back showings over a large coverage area. I've started showings as early as 6 AM and finished showings after 9 PM when my normal work day was already too full to fit all client requests in, but that won't always cut it and some properties aren't available that early or late.
Sometimes a buyer will make an offer prior to a showing of any kind, but that's not an ideal solution...
My Requests for Buyer's Agent Fill-Ins
If you have any digital tools or physical tools that would be helpful for a showing, please have them available if possible for a showing, such as a ladder for scuttle access to attics if you feel comfortable taking a peek (even if you don't feel comfortable getting into an attic) or powerful flashlight. Here is my water heater age digital tool that buyers are used to me using.
Please try to be as thorough as you can during the time you have available up to your comfort level of safety. Buyers are used to me doing things like entering into scuttle access-only attics with my ladder, looking in crawlspaces with the most powerful flashlight for its size or the most powerful flashlight sold, etc.
Please be vocal during the showing. Buyers are used to me pointing out many positives and negatives. I typically point out more negatives than positives since in my opinion there typically are more negatives than positives visible. Here is an example of the kinds of feedback I provided to buyers on multiple properties. While I used to primarily do written feedback to have a record, I typically currently do verbal feedback (& can provide a higher volume of feedback than the written examples due to the lower time required for it) with an audio recording of that feedback with the property from a continuous audio recording during a showing. If you want to do that, be sure to ask the buyer's permission prior like I do.
In the case of video showings, if you have any enhancements for video visuals, like wide-angle videography, image stabilization, external light attachments, a secondary phone & set up to do live video and separate recording, or otherwise, please use them. With negatives and positives, I like to use the Zoom feature at times and will sometimes get a close-up of elements.
Problems with Offers Prior to Showings
Sometimes buyers will make offers without ever seeing the property even via video, which has some major problems involved, but that is sometimes better than nothing.
Properties that get under contract without any kind of showing, whether in person or via video, are much more likely to fall through than properties that go under contract following a showing. That's bad for buyer and seller. There's even a big difference between in-person and video showings in this regard to the degree that I even make a case to agents about why my video showings are superior to other buyers' in-person showings. Typically if 2 offers are similar, but one buyer saw a home via video while the other buyer saw the home in person, the seller will go with the buyer who saw the home in person due to lower chance of future contract fall through, so in making a case I am trying to lower that probability.
When one home is under contract, if a superior property comes along while you're under contract, and you wouldn't buy 2 properties, you will need to either get out of the contract (which typically can't be done rapidly), or make an offer that includes a contingency for getting out of the other contract. Any contingency you add to an offer is a negative for a seller as it increases their level of risk and diminishes the quality of your offer to them. If you wait until you are out of contract with the first property, which could take a few days in some cases, sometimes the superior property will already be under contract with another buyer.
How Buyers Can Avoid the Need for an Agent Fill-In
Be quick on the draw with requesting showings after they hit the market or incur a substantive price reduction, the hottest times of a property with the highest likelihood of multiple offer situations. If a property already has offers, it shortens the timeline of when you're able to see properties, and I've seen where buyers make that request >24 hrs after a property has hit the market when offers are already on the table and when the agent won't wait for a showing on Monday morning. See my recommendations for expeditious showings to help you see properties online more quickly, especially regarding receiving texts as properties hit the market when that's not possible directly within the MLS via the workaround solution I share about in the article.
One of the most common cases with me for there to be a need for agent fill-ins is on a Saturday night or Sunday when property didn't come on the market in the past 24 hrs. In a 5 week sample I pulled from the primary MLS of Hampton Roads, REIN, Saturdays only made up around 5% of listings out of the week and Sundays made up only around 2%. When someone reaches out to me on a Sunday about a showing, the property didn't typically come on the market that day. Because of my Sunday policy, as detailed here, I don't do showings on Sundays, with rare exceptions.
Many Agents Requesting Fill-Ins Miss the Mark & How Adam is Different
Many agents miss the mark, in my opinion, regarding agent fill-ins by asking whatever agents in their firm are available to show properties for a relatively small fee rather than exclusively asking those who are experienced agents for a higher fee. Often if a video showing is involved, agent fill-in requests won't include any sorting by video options either, despite how critical the quality of the video element of a showing is whenever a video showing is performed.
When I have a buyer that needs a showing, I will typically first reach out to my go-to experienced agents with more experience than me, offering them a higher amount than what's typically offered for agent fill-ins in light of their higher level of experience. I don't feel threatened by their greater levels of experience and feel that they will do a better job than those with low experience despite not doing as good of a job as me according to what my buyers have told me in feedback. If I'm unable to get a fill-in from one of my go-to agents, I will reach out to more agents, but when doing so, provide minimum criteria, always including minimum transaction volume in that criteria. For video showings, I include minimum quality for video by listing acceptable devices. Sometimes I include other criteria, like a buyer having access to certain MLS or having previously done transactions with some similarities to a subject property, such as having previously transacted with a well, septic, or flood zone if one of those is applicable to a property that a buyer wants to see. It's very rare for me to see other agents including minimum criteria like these when I see agents reaching out about agent fill-ins for showings.