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RE Moments

Are you a full service agent?

Full service

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a full service Realtor. It doesn’t seem to mean the same thing to all agents so I thought I would outline what it means to me.

Buyer pulls up to a listing and I meet them there.  The first thing I do is get my tire gauge out and check their tires for air pressure.  Then I open the hood and check the fluid levels.

When my clients ride with me it is in my limo driven by Charles. They sit in the back and I serve them drinks from the mini bar.  Not mojitos because I work in Minnesota but I do make a wicked snow shoe grog.

Maid Service

For my sellers, the folks who are paying the commission I need to go one step further. When I do open houses I arrive three hours early so I can wash all the windows, vacuum the carpets, dust and maybe do a few loads of laundry is they are behind on it.

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During the warmers months I mow their lawns, weed the garden, water and fertilize.  The level of service I give my clients sets me apart from the competition.

With each home I list I go in late in the day, turn down the beds and leave chocolate under each pillow.  I of course make sure that no one in the home is allergic to chocolate and am prepared to leave mints or bubble gun if they are.

None of my competitors do any of these things yet they are still in business.  Honestly I am baffled.  They only give their client’s real estate services and nothing more.


When it comes to the idea of full service I think most of it is about meeting or exceeding our client’s expectations. I see agents who provide services that no one expects from an agent.  The services are not really a good use of the agent’s time, and are sometimes out side the agent’s area of expertise and what their E & O carrier will pay for if they mess up.

One example that comes to mind is the agents who painted an entire basement because it needed painting and the sellers wouldn’t do it.  I guess if it was that important and I had to I would pay a painter to do the job.  To be honest I get kind of parental with my clients. I would have them do it and tell them that as long as they do as I say no one will get hurt.

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I am a Realtor, not a painter darn it!  I have never had a client who expected me to paint anything but I suppose if I offered they would let me paint and do other chores around their homes too.  They would probably let me give them legal advice, financial advice and do a little estate planning too.

When it comes to full service, where do you draw the line?

Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.



  1. Paula Henry

    March 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

    T- wow, tire gauge, fluid checks, limos, drinks, mints on the pillow…….I had to check to see if this is Friday.

  2. Bob

    March 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

    One of my seller’s had contracted with his painters to paint the interior of a small condo prior to close of escrow. At the walk through, we discovered the painters hadnt done anything. The buyer was now refusing to close. We were up against a drop dead date as this was 1031. There was no way to get a new crew in now to get this done in time.

    I went to Home Depot for supplies and came back and painted it. We got it closed in time and my investor seller avoided some nasty tax issues.

    When I delivered his closing docs and the check with his proceeds, I explained what happened and gave him a bill for the supplies.

    He couldn’t believe I would take my time and effort to make sure he was protected. he gave me 12 more listings.

    Sometimes full service means doing what needs to be done.

  3. Jim Gatos

    March 4, 2009 at 10:20 am

    What if you’re a lousy painter? Would you STILL do it?

  4. Larry Yatkowsky

    March 4, 2009 at 10:29 am

    T – what no porridge?

    Re Bob’s comment. Sometimes with some people you just gotta do what needs doing to make that cheque happen.

    Having said that I do draw the line at kissing ass – yah just gotta know your limitations.

  5. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC

    March 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I’m moving to Minnesota so I can buy and sell houses with you, Teresa, as a buyer/seller!

    I’m not the handy man type but I would pay for something to get done if it meant getting the deal closed. I’ve also met contractors at all hours in order to get them into houses and I’ve been paying the electricity/heat bill for a home where the client is overseas and I’d hate for the pipes to freeze. (let’s hope I get reimbursed, eh?)

    I send packing boxes (with my logo on them) so my clients don’t have to dumpster dive at the grocery store or Home Depot. A couple of other things.

    I’m with Larry, though. Ya gotta keep your dignity.

  6. Teresa Boardman

    March 4, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Ken – I have gone that extra mile too. I have sellers who I have never met in person, they live in other states. I also have had to coordinate moves, pick up cable modems, engage contractors and the list goes on. I am a full service Realtor. I have hired people to paint for my clients too but there is a limit as you mentioned.

  7. Missy Caulk

    March 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    …does cleaning toilets at a condo that was vacant count?

    Their daughter forgot. opps…

    They moved to Minn. I just wasn’t going to call them and tell them daughter forgot.

  8. Cindy Florine

    March 5, 2009 at 10:31 am

    You crack me up! Every time I read something you have written I laugh-it starts the day.
    Honest to God I wanted this listing really bad-it needed painting-estate sale-the daughter was out of town-couldn’t do it-so myself and another agent painted the entire first floor. We were paid $700.00 to do it but we ended up hiring three other girls to finish it and paid them more than we made. AND we did not get the listing-the daughter sold it to a friend!!

  9. Elaine Reese

    March 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Been there, done that, got the “full service” T-shirt. You do what you have to do … especially on those vacant listings. Most often, mine is shoveling drives for a showing, when the guys with the plows can’t get there in time. I’ve mopped floors, raked leaves, but OMG Missy, haven’t had to clean toilets … yet.

  10. Jill Wente

    March 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Is there something beyond full service? Because on some off my vacant listings full service just does not say it all. From skimping the swim spa, to sweeping up dead cockroaches, to meeting the service providers to remove the bees and remove the rats (well it actually turned out being only 1 rat) in the attic, to cleaning up the flower beds, to adjusting the sprinkler system.

    And yes, Missy I hate to admit it but I have cleaned a toilet. Apparently when people have to go they have to go. It does not matter whether the house is vacant or occupied or if toilet paper is available.

  11. teresa boardman

    March 5, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I am sure my clients would let me provide all the services you mention. Some I would not be able to provide because I either don’t have the strength or the expertize yet I am able to get them all done, and it doesn’t cost me a dime. I get my clients with vacant houses to pay for the snow removal and more.

  12. Vicki Moore

    March 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve done most of those things, including kissing ass, which is the most distasteful. I’d rather clean a toilet.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    March 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Is it sad that I consider agents comparatively “full-service” if they return a phone call?

  14. Rebecca Laing

    March 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I include staging services for many of my listing clients, so cleaning, a bit of painting, and moving furniture are all routine. Tight deadlines have sometimes required me to go further: laying sod in the rain, helping rebuild a deck, repairing a patterned plaster ceiling (an artistic talent that I didn’t know I had!). Right now, my home office has 27 boxes of personal possessions belonging to a client (including an urn with remains of a pet).

    My natural instinct is to do whatever is necessary to get the job done, so if time is tight for getting a listing ready, then ‘full service’ can end up encompassing a lot.

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