Your Client Has a Gas Problem

Gas lines

Last week I scheduled a condo showing for a buyer client. I arrived first and I went in to open up and turn on lights. When I stepped inside, I noticed the smell of natural gas. The furnace and the hot water heater, both hooked up to natural gas, were in a closet by the front door. The condo was vacant.

I waited for my client to arrive. When they walked in the door the first thing they said was “I smell cat.” I asked if they smelled anything else. They said “Natural gas.”

Okay, so now there are two of us that smell what appears to be natural gas. I show the condo and then call the agent to let them know that I think there may be a gas leak in the unit. This is how the conversation goes…

Amy: Hi Pat, I showed 123 Main Street tonight. I just wanted to let you know that my client and I both picked up on the smell of natural gas while we were in the unit. Your client might want to have someone stop by and take a look at that, there might be a leak.

Pat: That can’t be possible. Both the furnace and hot water heater are brand new. They were installed in the fall.

Amy: Well, we did notice a smell. There might be a loose fitting or something. Just because the units were new doesn’t mean that they were installed properly.

Pat: Another agent mentioned this too. There really shouldn’t be any problems, everything is new.

Amy: Okay, well if your client calls CNG they’ll probably come out and check it for them and let you know if there’s an issue.

Pat: Thanks. What did your client think of the unit?

Our conversation when on from there regarding my client’s thoughts on the property.

Honestly, I was surprised that the agent mentioned that another agent said they smelled gas and still didn’t think there was any type of issue. Gas leaks can be a serious problem. Wouldn’t the agent want to know if there was a gas leak in their own house? Why wouldn’t they do the same for a client that they are representing?

This type of “it’s not my problem” behavior frustrates me. In listing agreements it specifically states that the agent is not responsible for maintaining the property they’re listing. However, they should at least call their client and let them know about potential issues that are brought to their attention. The client can then make the decision on next steps.

Now, this isn’t to say that all agents ignore information given to them. Last year I went to preview a house on a very rainy day and found that a seller’s basement was severely flooding. It was as if someone just turned on a garden hose in the basement, that’s how much water was coming in the basement window. I called the listing agent right away and they called the homeowner who was able to come home from work immediately to deal with the situation.

As a seller, hopefully your agent is respectful enough to call you when there are potential issues. As a preventive measure, when you get showing feedback from your agent ask them if there were any problems other than the standard “they liked it, they didn’t like it because of…”

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