Dear Zuess,

I’m taking a vacation and I’m not sure how to deal with my business while I am away.  I don’t want to feel obligated to be in touch while I am away, but I really worry about missing some opportunities.  Should I leave my business with another agent?  I’d hate to lose the commission on stuff I’ve been working on for months.  Are there any other options?


Hello Barry,

The vacation dilemma – this one is always a struggle for agents and for good reason.  There are a number of issues in play:  Commission, the clients’ needs, reputation and importantly, what your needs from the vacation are.Guy with laptop on ocean

Let’s deal with your needs first.  Do you need a relaxing retreat that allows you to fully escape the pressures of real estate?  Do you need to be completely focussed on your family/spouse or other relationship on the vacation?  Are you happy to enjoy the vacation while staying connected to your business in a limited way?   These questions matter.  If you want to be fully disengaged from your business, it is possible and well worth the effort, but it takes more work to set it up.

Next, let’s address the client’s needs.  If a client is highly motivated and in a must sell, must buy situation, their needs take precedence over your needs and other variables. You will want to meet with any highly motivated clients face-to-face and give them some options about how to handle their needs while you are away.  I would offer to have them be represented by an agent who you know will do an excellent job. This means partnering with a great agent and this option may cost you more commission than you feel is fair.  This segues well into the next point – our reputation.

When we take vacations and we leave our business with another agent, we leave our reputation in the hands of that person.  That agent becomes an extension of us and of our personal brand.  Their values and their ethics matter and will have an effect on our relationship with our client.

Choose an agent that you know and that you trust–and I mean really know.  You need to know how they deal with clients, where their ethical boundaries are and what professional values they hold.  If you don’t know and trust many agents in your company, recognize that if you want to take vacations, these relationships matter.  You may want to spend some time building them.

How will you compensate the person that takes care of your business?  It will depend on who you choose to represent your clients while you are away and what you negotiate with them.  I think that the compensation model matters less than who you choose to care for your clients.  A good agent will likely want a percentage of any transaction and since they are good agents, they may sell the client.

I’ve heard the same complaint too many times to count, “It doesn’t feel fair, I worked with the client for months and then while I was away, they bought and it just doesn’t seem fair to pay the other agent half the commission.”

My take – it’s fair.  They sold the house.  They may have sold the house because they are very good at what they do.  The client has been served, you had your vacation and you made half the commission.  It’s a good deal all around.

“I use to take 10 weeks off every summer to be with my daughter and to travel in Northern Canada.  People would say to me, are you nuts – you’ll lose $50,000 dollars.  I’d smile and say no – there is another way to look at it.  I will be spending quality time doing what I love to do and I will make $50,000.  It’s all in the perspective.”  Suze

Other options for compensation are to pay someone a set fee or hourly wage to look after your business, make a reciprocal arrangement with another agent so each of you may take vacations at different times, or partner with a less productive agent at a lower percentage. Most importantly stay palm beachinvolved so you can ensure that your client is well represented.  There are of course, many combinations of the above models that may work for you.

You may choose to hand different clients over to different agents.  This was my preference, as it served the client best.

The two most important things are to do what is in the clients’ best interest, not yours and put the agreement with the other agent in writing!


Columnist, The Nature of Real Estate

Dear Zuess is a column dedicated to offering advice to vacationing real estate agents. Do you have any real estate binds you’ve been in lately? Drop Zuess a line at