In real estate sales, it’s not unusual to work the phone pretty hard on any given day. You can have calls with attorneys, contractors, lenders, title companies, and that doesn’t include looky loos and people trying to sell you that next shiny thing that is going to bring you more leads faster and easier than ever before. Imagine my surprise the other day when I called on one of the members of my circle and they took 3 days to call me back! Is your real estate agent not returning calls? What’s this about?
What I’ve Been Taught About Phone Etiquette
Years and years of sales training has told me that you must return every phone call. Countless data shows that a lead gets colder and colder the longer the time between the initial call and your response. In this article, the difference between 5 minutes and 30 minutes is dramatic. But that information is for leads, and 80 percent of the people who call me aren’t new leads. But, this hasn’t been my real life experience. What’s going on? I think it has to do with different circumstances. I’ll try to explain.
As I navigate through this maze of phone call etiquette, it seems like there are different rules for different people, and technology also plays a part in our phone calls being returned. Let’s go over some of the more awkward situations and see if we can get some clarity.
The Aggressive Client
Real Estate Agents work with all types of people. Some are a better fit than others. Let’s just look at one scenario. Let’s say you’ve bought a house with a real estate agent. Two years later, you have a small leak coming from the kitchen faucet. Who’s the first person you call? It’s not a plumber. You’re convinced that the sellers knew all along that there was bad plumbing, your home inspector missed it, and it’s imperative to call your real estate agent at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night to tell them how distraught you are and that you will be suing everyone involved in the transaction. Then, you call the real estate agent every two hours the next day until they pick up the phone, each time leaving a more expletive filled voicemail than the one before. Finally, you go to every message board and review site online and whine that your realtor didn’t call you back. There’s a reason. You are psychotic and should seek professional help. In this case, it’s pretty obvious why your real estate agent is not returning your call. You are showing them no respect. Why would they afford the same to you?
Communicating Through The Wrong Medium
Can you believe that I’ve completed real estate transactions via text alone? It’s not the way I would like to do things, but people sort of gravitate to one preferred form of communication. If someone I know emails me, I assume they want an emailed response back. It’s the same thing with texting. Unfortunately, there are times when I need to talk to someone because I don’t want to email or text a novel. This doesn’t explain introductory phone calls, emails, or texts. If I don’t know you and you text me about a property, I’ll probably text you back, unless you specifically ask for a call. I’ve actually broken this “rule” before and the person on the other end is like,” what are you doing?”
Not Great On The Phone
For whatever reason, I’ve never been great on the phone. I can remember years ago I wouldn’t want to so much as call for a pizza delivery! I’ve traced most of my issues to the fact that I can’t seem to hear people very well on the phone. For a while, Sprint had HD voice, and that seemed to really be helpful for me because I could hear much better. For some reason, I don’t get that very often, and I’ve not seen some sort of groundswell support online for this feature across all phone carriers.
Real Estate Agent Not Returning Your Call Because The House You Want Is Under Contract
Did you ever think that there might be a reason a real estate agent is not returning calls? One of the things I’ve noticed but do not agree with is when a real estate has a listing, but it’s already under contract. You can leave voicemails, text and email, but the agent is probably not going to call you back. Why? I’m not sure. I think one of the reasons might be they know that you are going to ask a secondary question. “How much did the house sell for?” Since it’s under contract, and it hasn’t sold yet, the real estate agent isn’t obligated to tell you anything. And I think that’s where many go wrong. Maybe you are a buyer in need of a real estate agent? How would they know if they don’t return your call?
Your Real Estate Agent, Or A Real Estate Agent?
There’s an issue of generic real estate agent versus a real estate agent you are working with. Let me explain. If you see a house on Zillow and call one of the agents on the side of the screen, you have no written relationship with that agent. Even if they are paying to be on the side of the screen, they may not call you back. Why? I have a few ideas on that.
- The house you are interested in doesn’t fit their desired customer level. Let’s say you see a house available for $10,000. Do you think the real estate agent paid by commission is going to jump out of their shoes to call you? Probably not. If they are paying $3,000 a month for the lead and the commission payout is $300, they are going to go broke or might be already. What if the house is $1,000,000? Pretty sure you will get a call back.
- The agent you see on the screen is part of a team, and they bungled it. I think a lot of people believe that there are these real estate agents closing 300 or 400 deals by themselves with no other agents. It’s so far from reality. Even though you see someone marketed as one person, to do that kind of marketing and that many transactions, they aren’t doing it on their own. They probably have 10 agents who only work with buyers, and then 1 or 2 agents who only list homes for sale. At this point, the agent you see on the screen is probably more of a figurehead than anything else. And, that’s where the problem lies. You see, they are getting calls from all sorts of lead generating platforms at all hours of the day and night. Those calls have to be routed somewhere. Depending on things as odd as years with the team, or production numbers over a quarter, you could be getting cycled to the worst member of that real estate team. And, unfortunately, they are the worst for a reason. They’re probably on their way out of the business and probably don’t really return calls on a regular basis anyway. That’s why they are not great real estate agents to begin with.
- You’ve not given them the info they want to call you back. If you are a blind lead on Zillow, and you haven’t given your real name, real email address, or real phone number, no real estate agent is going to call you back. If you fill out a form on a website and you put that you are looking to rent to own because your credit is awful, it’s highly unlikely a real estate agent is going to call you back. Why? Real estate agents are traditionally paid on commission. This means they can’t afford to waste their time messing with unmotivated buyers or sellers.
Your Real Estate Agent Isn’t Calling You Back During A Purchase Or Sale Of A Home
This is an odd one for me. It is a part of my being to keep my buyers and sellers informed during a transaction. If you’re real estate agent isn’t calling you back, that’s bizarre. I will offer a few thoughts, however.
- The real estate agent is waiting on more information before calling you back. Let’s say you want to know about the utilities at the home you are under contract to purchase. Your real estate agent is going to call the listing agent. At that point, depending on the listing agent, they will get an answer quickly, or it could take days. Why? The answer depends completely on the willingness of the listing agent to get the information.
- Contractually there is no news. Let’s say you’ve placed an offer to purchase on a home and in the contract it says the seller has 30 hours to make a decision. Your buyer’s agent isn’t going to know anything at all once the offer is in. They will likely hear from the listing agent at some point, but it’s again not up to your agent.
Other than that, I really don’t understand why real estate agents are not returning calls. As I said to one of my friends the other day, “I’d like to be so busy selling houses and helping buyers that I could afford not to call people back within days of when they call….that would never happen.” And it’s true. There’s no excuse I can think of not to call your clients back or even the public at large. It comes across as rude to me. What do you think? Leave me a comment below.