Can Real Estate Agents Legally Go Door-to-Door


Reader Question: Can Real Estate Agents Legally Go Door-to-Door? Last night, about 7:30, a local real estate agent rang our doorbell to ask if we wanted to sell our house or knew anyone who wanted to sell. I was always under the impression that this sort of solicitation was considered inappropriate by real estate agents. Have things changed in the industry, or was I laboring under a false impression?

Monty’s Answer: When I began selling real estate in 1966, “door to door” prospecting was an ordinary real estate business practice in my home state. Most more established agents saw the method as a waste of time. However, a veteran local real estate agent was very effective in developing business using the door-to-door approach. A nationally known real estate convention speaker named Tom Hopkins provided “tips” on canvassing door-to-door. It suggests canvassing was happening in other areas of the country.

I did participate in the activity. I had people invite me in, slam the door on me, peer out the window, but not answer the door, and more. I was twenty-one years old, and my mentor suggested it would be worth the effort. I gained business doing it. When no one was at home, I would leave a business card in the door and write a message on the back. I had people who saved that card call me four or five years later when they needed real estate help.

Times have changed

Many moms did not work outside the home. They do today. There was no internet. Today many new methods exist for reaching customers on the internet that are more efficient. Today some communities have ordinances that prohibit door-to-door solicitation without a permit or at all. There are unique circumstances that can cause a community to enact an anti-solicitation rule. Some people see door-to-door solicitations as an intrusion; some people feel safer, etcetera. I believe societal changes have driven some communities to enact such ordinances. On the other hand, many cities do not have such regulations.

Some ordinance research

Here is one example of a definition from several communities I reviewed.

Rochester, NY, a solicitor; “A person doing business through the acts of vending, selling or offering for sale, soliciting orders for, demonstrating or making estimates of goods, services or merchandise, and persons in the home improvement industry, directly to the public in the public streets, sidewalks or public places from a vending truck, vending trailer, vending cart or special event table, or by going from house to house, whether by appointment, referral, uninvited solicitation, route sales or party plan, within the City of Rochester.” Here is a link to the code.

Can Real Estate Agents Legally Go Door-to-Door? One could make a case that this definition would not prevent a real estate agent from knocking on your door. It would not shock me if a customer asked the agent who knocked on your door to solicit you because they liked your home’s appearance.

Consider checking your municipality’s ordinances online or calling the business office to learn how your community handles door-to-door solicitation.