One area of conflict with real estate professionals can be communication and expectations. The number one complaint to the National Association of Realtors regarding licensee’s behavior involves communication – or rather, the lack of it. Too many realty professionals just don’t keep in touch enough.
That said, sometimes consumer expectations can be out of line. At times I have run into this with people who are not currently my clients, but strangers to me who may be clients later (“prospects”):
- people I do not know, texting me questions without even saying who they are
- folks asking for callbacks or response on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night
- consumers getting frustrated if they call me, don’t reach me, but don’t leave a message so that I can phone back
Because many Realtors work much more than 5 days per week, some people have the expectation that we are always “on call”. This is just not true – we are not always waiting by the phone for an incoming inquiry from someone we do not know. We might be out with clients, working on an offer, preparing for a listing appointment, driving to preview homes, sitting in a signoff or doing any number of other real estate jobs in which we cannot pick up the call or respond to a text. Training, coursework and continuing education, whether for a day or a week or online also eats into availability. We might be doing volunteer work with our real estate board or some charitable endeavor. Or we might be doing something personal that cannot be interrupted, as with a medical appointment. (See “What do real estate agents do?“) And just like everyone else, we also do need time off both from physical appointments but also from work email, running comps, and other computer or phone tasks which tend to take up a lot of time too.
A lot of times, the best reglationships happen when there’s been a conversation around availability (yours and theirs both), off time, response time, etc. Here are some suggestions when you are just beginning to work with someone in real estate.
- Most Realtors would prefer that the first interaction not be by text, but instead by email or phone. If you call, and get your Realtor live and in person, ask if now’s a good time to talk. Many will pick up the phone not knowing if it will be a 30 second call or a 30 minute one, so do ask – he or she may only have time for the briefest of conversations right then and there.
- Do tell the real estate professional your full name (not “Tom from San Jose”), whether you are calling about buying or selling, and why you are reaching out.
- For the first call, try to be somewhat concise. If you want to sell, I need to see your home in person, so telling me the infinite details on floor covering or curtains will not be useful right then – those items can wait. We never want to cut someone short but if you err on the side of brief, we can always ask you for more details.
- If you get a voice mail message, please leave your contact info, the reason for your call, and your return number – and say it slowly and clearly. It is really nice if your return number is the same one you call us on. (Realtors get a LOT of soliciations for web placement, advertising on bus benches and the like, so if you only say “This is Tom from Santa Clara, please call me back”, without anything else, you will sound like a telemarketer to us, and you may not get the call back at all.)
- Please allow a few hours for your call to be returned. Sometimes we have relocation buyers in the car and it’s a marathon day before we have 2 minutes to check messages and return calls. Most of us will try to get back to you as soon as possible. I know that I certainly will.
- Sometimes, albeit rarely, there’s a lot of phone tag. That doesn’t need to happen – worst case, set an appointment and talk when you both can clear the time for it.
Once you begin to work with an agent, it’s really smart to ask about general availability. Everyone takes time off – when does your Realtor? What happens when your Realtor is away at a conference or on vacation? When is it too early or too late for your Realtor to call you? Do you prefer texts, phone calls, or email?
Most real estate sales people work weekdays and some evenings and some weekends. Usually it’s easiest to take off either part or all of one weekday and part or all of one weekend day. Very few Realtors will want to work Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights or on Sunday mornings. Most will not want appointments before 9am or after 6pm if it can be helped. We do our best to accomodate our clients, but without some time off, we end up burned out and more prone to making mistakes. Each agent has his or her own schedule, though, so as always, have the conversation about when you and he or she is available and then everyone can be on the same page.