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Tip of the Week – New Automatic Fine: Unauthorized Home Access (returned)

Sep 07, 2016
Below is a Tip that I originally published March 2015, but I’m finding more and more agents aren’t familiar with it. So here’s an oldie, but biggie, from the past.

In the past few years we have observed an increase in agents opening homes without following the requested instructions. This has led to surprised owners or tenants, alarms being set off, pets released, etc. It could lead to worse. So a new MLS rule, with an automatic fine as the penalty, has been approved. 

I have heard what I call horror stories in the past of owners who stepped out of the shower to find strangers in their home. Not burglars or thieves, but potential buyers and their agent. Just in the past year, an agent with their customers drove by a house, saw the lockbox on the door, pulled in and walked into the home. Much to the shock and fright of the young mother with her small children. 

Is this because the agent just didn't care? No, it was the assumption that a lockbox on the property meant that it could be shown at any time. 

The lockbox allows for easier showing. It's not an open door policy. Without the lockbox, you're back to going to the listing office to check out a key, if one was available. What if the last agent didn't return it?

 Or you have to have the list agent meet you and your customer at the house. That's if their schedule can match up with you and your buyer's schedule.

But the burden of this issue is not just on the showing agent. The listing agent has to be specific on what's allowed. With the MLS system available on any device with internet access, there's no reason why you can't check the showing instructions on any listing.

That also means the list agent is responsible for putting the showing instructions on the listing.

Here's the new rule:

Section 4.5 Unauthorized entry into a property or failure to follow the directions in the Showing Instructions or Agent to Agent Remarks on the MLS listing is a Class 1 violation.

If the showing instructions, in either the Showing field or Agent to Agent Remarks (also knows as Agent Notes), are not followed, you could be assessed an automatic $200 fine.

So if the listing indicates to call for an appointment, don't just show up at the house.

Don't forget that the MLS includes a Showing Request feature. Right on the listing is an icon, which looks like  a calendar. This option will allow you to send a showing request with the desired date and time right to the list agent's primary email address. How easy is that? It also gives you written evidence that you made appropriate attempts to show the property.

Questions? Call us at 850-244-2411 or email

Susan Beck, I.S. Director

Emerald Coast Association of Realtors

Fort Walton Beach, FL