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Stone stepsThose of us who sell real estate for a living know that consumers want to hear back from us as soon as possible when they call or email (or text, in some cases).  What’s a realistic turnaround time for the response?

If not with clients or otherwise tied up, many Realtors (yours truly included) will pick up the phone when called during business hours. (Some won’t. Some do time blocking and return calls at set times, such as between 11am and noon and 4 and 5pm. Those who time block in this way will often put a message on their voice mail explaining when they will call back. Hopefully, that works for the caller!). In general, Realtors and real estate sales people will not take calls or return phone calls while they are with other clients unless there is a really crucial event happening – and if that’s the case, they’ll let the folks they’re with know about it upfront.  Depending on how long the appointment is, then, the return call could be an hour or two or, in the extreme, at the very end of the day (if with relocating clients and doing a crash course in the area that goes 8 hours – it can happen, but is exhausting for all).

Once in awhile, a voice mail or text simply won’t be delivered by the wireless carrier in a timely manner. This is extremely embarrassing and upsetting to everyone impacted by it.  So please keep in mind that it’s always possible that your message simply wasn’t delivered.

If something big is going on, check in ahead of time with your Realtor

If there is some momentous event or report looming, talk to your buyer’s or seller’s agent ahead of time to learn his or her schedule and availability.  This is key for reducing everyone’s stress!

Agents do sometimes take time off, too. Communicate with yours to know when he or she is off, and do your best to respect that time. Real estate licensees who get too burned out are less effective in the long run.

In my practice, often I can call back within a few minutes if I am simply on the other line when I miss a call. Most of the time, my appointments (listing or showing homes) last only about 2 hours, so I can get back to callers within 2-3 hours 95% of the time.  On very rare occasions, I’ll have a marathon appointment and be tied up all day.

If your agent is really busy – and we all get at least some spells like this – know that he or she will probably call you back within a couple of hours. If you don’t get a response and it’s some sort of emergency, try texting (many agents now communicate that way – I do) but know that you are probably interrupting so it may not be possible for your agent to call you back immediately.

It’s all about expectations: if you know your agent’s availability, it won’t be frustrating for you or her/him if there’s a small amount of phone tag.

Improve your odds that you reach your real estate agent quickly

Do you urgently need to speak with your Realtor or licensee?  It may be good to let him or her know ahead of time (by text or email) that you’ll be calling.  It’s also tremendously helpful if you have an unblocked number.  For many of us, a blocked caller equals a junk call.  If your number is blocked for privacy reasons, you can unblock it by simply dialing *82 before dialing the number

Finally, I should add that the best agents are not available 100% of the time!  This week I learned that in Santa Clara County, 78% Of the agents have sold either no homes or only 1 home this year.  Those agents may be more available – but they may not be the best agent you could hire.  When hiring an agent, do find out how busy he or she is generally. You’ll all be happier to establish realistic expectations upfront.