- Some agents find bringing their children to appointments can be an effective way to juggle client needs with family life.
- Delegating tasks, like hunting for home defects or setting up for-sale signs, can make the experience fun for everyone, they say.
- But agents should weigh a client's preferences and their children's behavior before mixing family with work.
When Realtor Darrel Scott brought his son to a showing this year, he set the child loose on the property’s swing set and trampoline.
“My client watched him and said, ‘My daughter would have just as much fun as he is,'” Scott said, speaking of a moment when his client watched his son frolicking in the backyard. “So the offer went in right away.”
Scott, an Olympia, Washington-based agent, is one of many real estate professionals who sometimes cart their children to appointments.
It’s a way for agents to juggle client needs with family life, and it can even work in their favor. Just remember to exercise discretion, practitioners say.
Leave a client hanging or take the kid along
The “on-demand” zeitgeist and housing shortages are putting more pressure than ever on agents to open homes for clients lickety-split.
So agents with children are often faced with a choice: leave a client hanging or take their kids along for the ride. The second option sometimes serves everyone’s best interests.
“Sometimes people want to see houses right away and if Daddy isn’t home from work, he’s getting toted out with me,” said Killeen, Texas-based Realtor Carissa Duran, speaking about her infant child in the Facebook group Real Estate Out of the Box Owl.
Dalesha Reid, a White Plains, New York-based agent, says she doesn’t make taking her kids to business appointments a habit, “but I don’t like canceling on clients, so why not!”
How to make it work
Agents are sometimes pleasantly surprised to learn that their offspring are more of a benefit than a liability on the job.
Duran says her son is “such a charmer that he becomes an easy icebreaker.”
Some agents like to mix work with children even if they don’t have to, giving their kids roles to make the experience fun for everyone. Tracie Godri, a Bradenton, Florida-based broker-owner, equips her children with name tags and business cards.
Others delegate tasks to their kids like opening up lockboxes, hunting for property defects and setting up for-sale signs.
Danelle Stroble’s daughter comes in handy when showing properties to buyers with toddlers.
“She’s a built in babysitter at age 12!” said the Chino Hills, California-based Realtor.
Panama City Beach, Florida-based Jennifer Ethridge once noticed that neighbors tended to open their doors a lot more when she promoted an open house with her son in tow.
When you should hire a sitter
But plopping kids in the backseat or an office chair can also turn off clients.
Libertyville, Illinois-based Michelle Nunez found it “extremely unprofessional” when her agent brought his wife and kids to a showing.
“To me, it would be distracting and my attention would be on them not my clients 100 percent,” added Wendy Borrelli, who works out of Garrettsville, Ohio. “I want them to take me and what I offer them as a commitment to them and their purchase.”
Agents should consider their client’s preferences and their children’s behavior, among other things, before taking offspring to their next appointment, some say.
“It’s all in how it’s done,” said Cynthia Dodge. “My daughter from a very young age understood how to behave and knew how to do the jobs I gave her — sometimes she even helped with the buyer/seller kids, which was great.”
Best to ask a client’s permission and set expectations, vets say.
“I warn them in advance that they’re likely to meet my family at some point, because I’m usually on call for them,” said Kimi Fernandez, a Medford, Oregon-based Realtor.
Mixing kids with work isn’t for everyone. But part of the beauty of real estate is that “we all get to do it our way, and fit with the clients that fit us,” Fernandez said.