Agent/broker perspective: coordinating vacation time

Communication is critical when agents arrange their off-time
  • Communication among all parties (agent, broker, sellers, and covering agent) is absolutely essential before an agent goes on vacation
  • A “vacation-reciprocity” arrangement is an effective way for inter-office agents to cover each other’s backs
  • Ultimately, it is the broker’s responsibility to make sure things go smoothly when the agent is on vacation

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In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz will explore a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.

This month’s situation: An agent is preparing to go on a much-needed vacation, and wants to keep everyone in the loop.

Agent perspective

The first quarter of 2016 was crazy busy for me, and the second quarter looks like it will be even more hectic.

I would like to take about 10 days off to re-charge my batteries, so I can face the next few months ready to rock! But before I book my flights, I want to make sure my sellers know that I will still be reachable, and that my staffers will be available to cover their business.

While I may not be available 24/7 as usual, I’ll still be able to answer questions and offer advice. After I inform my broker about these travel plans, is there anything else I need to do?

Broker perspective

Vacation time is a fundamental part of every professional’s life cycle, and we strongly encourage our busy agents to take some down time.

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As independent contractors, real estate agents are “technically” free to take as much vacation time as they would like, but the reality is that they are still beholden to their brokers, colleagues and of course, their sellers.

In fact, the No. 1 complaint we get from sellers is about poor communication, so this agent is correct to make sure their sellers are informed about the impending vacation.

But there is much more to consider.

The agent should make sure their broker knows their travel itinerary, with at least two weeks’ advance notice. And while staff members may be helpful, the vacationing agent should also form a reciprocity arrangement with a fellow agent in their office to help cover all pending clients during their off-time. And vice-versa when that agent plans to go on vacation themselves.

The vacationing agent will need to review all pending clients with the covering agent prior to departing.

This is a big deal, and all “what-if” questions regarding those clients and potential sales should be covered in writing, with the broker cc’d on all communication.

For example, how would a buyer who calls on a “for sale” sign be handled? Would the covering agent take the buyer and pay the vacationing agent a referral fee, or would the fee be split 50/50?

Unfortunately, I have had situations arise where I have needed to step in and deal with a client complaint during an agent’s vacation. In almost every case, these situations could have been avoided with better planning and communication.

How to meet halfway

An agent needs to balance many factors when planning a vacation. Is the vacation being planned during a slow or busy time for the office? Will the agent be in a different time zone? If so, how will they accommodate business hours in Miami?

Ultimately, it is the broker’s responsibility to handle any vacation-related mishaps, which can make the whole team look unprofessional. However, with good communication and thoughtful pre-planning, the agent can enjoy a care-free and enjoyable vacation.

Anthony is the broker-owner of Re/Max Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, and also a working Realtor who sells more than 150 homes a year.