Should You Use Texting & Facebook Messaging for Real Estate Investing?

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I was having coffee with another investor the other day. We were talking about the latest BiggerPockets podcast with Tim Gordon. There was some discussion on the podcast about Tim doing a wholesale deal via text messaging.

This investor was more “old school” and did not think that texting was a professional way to communicate in business. He was shocked to hear that the majority of our communication with tenants is done via texting (using our Google Voice number), email and Facebook messaging.

I thought this was an interesting topic, so I wanted to share it with you guys and get your take on the pros/cons.

Advantages to Using Phone Alternatives

Asynchronous Communication

For one reason or another, we always seemed to miss call either from our tenants or to tenants.  We would call them and they would not answer, so it would go to voicemail.  Then if they called back, we would be doing something else and not want to interrupt it with a phone call.

In some cases, people did not have their voicemail on their phones setup, so when we called back we could not even leave a voicemail. By texting a tenant, we are able to “leave a message” and get a response when they had some time available and they could do the same.  We don’t have to both be available at the same time to communicate.

Speak Using Their Preferred Communication Method

Let’s face it, we are in a text based world.  Whereas 15 years ago most communication was done via phone calls and face to face communication, we have shifted to where a large majority of communication is now done via some text based medium (text messaging, Facebook message, email).  If your tenants (or other real estate contacts) prefer communicating in a certain way, it will be easier to communicate with them using that method.

Related: Effectively Communicating With Your Tenants

History of Communication

When you talk on the phone, unless you are recording all of the conversations (which could be illegal if you do not inform the other party), you don’t have a history of communications.  When we communicate with our tenants via text messages, we have that history.

This is useful for referring back to regarding questions or problems.  Also, if we have to evict a tenant, we can use the history of communication to help paint the picture of why we are evicting the tenant.

Less Intrusive & Faster Response Time

Related to asynchronous communication, we believe that the reason we missed people when we called them is because less people talk on the phone.  Often times (and I admit to doing this all the time), I won’t answer a phone call, but I will immediately followup with a text.  This could be because I am somewhere where I can’t make a call or because I don’t want to have a long conversations.  Tenants seem to do the same thing.  If we text, we almost always get a response faster than a voice mail.

Disadvantages to Using Phone Alternatives

Multiple Communication Channels

Instead of communication via just phone, we end up communicating via phone, email, text messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.  This could become confusing/overwhelming for our business.  We manage this by utilizing our smartphones, which condense all these communication methods into 1 device.

Not Everyone Uses Each Type of Communication

Some people may just use a phone call and not texting (ex. their phone may be a landline or they have texting turned off).  Others may not be on Facebook.  So you need to understand (and remember) how each person prefers to communicate.

Professionalism (Or Lack Thereof)

Some people may view these others methods of communication as unprofessional.  I have not found this to be the case with the people that I work with, but it is something to keep in mind.

Conclusion

We utilize many forms of communication in our business.  We gauge and determine what communication method works in different situations and use that one.  This helps us communicate better in our business, not only with our tenants, but also with other team members of our business.  We often only use phone calls for urgent matters or if it would be difficult to discuss using another medium.

So what are your thoughts?  Do you use these other methods of communication and is it ok?

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About Author

Tom is a serial entrepreneur and real estate investor from Rochester, NY. His real estate investments primarily target multi-unit properties. Along with his wife Ariana, they run a blog called Entreprenewlyweds, which helps couples understand how to manage being real estate investors/entrepreneurs while also maintaining a great relationship and family life.

13 Comments

  1. I love to email and text but ultimately I will use whatever form of communication the client is most comfortable with.

    In our business you have to be flexible and able to evolve with technology. However, you can not just assume your client is tech or text savvy. You have to master all of the various forms and then identify which form the client prefers and use that.

    My 2 cents.

    Best Regards,
    Robert Adams
    Dual Licensed Real Estate Broker NV#62827 MA#9530304

  2. Agreed Robert. It’s all about communicating with how the client want to communicate. That is one of the reason’s that I love my smartphone so much. Regardless of which way they communicate, I have it all together in 1 place on my phone.

  3. Arthur Banks on

    I’ve been dealing a lot with my lender and contractors for my current project and I initially thought text was unprofessional. But I’ve found most prefer text over a call for reasons stated. Quicker to read than listening to a voice mail. People tend to get “str8″ to the point in text. Unless there is a lot of detail to discuss, text works just fine. I do find myself correcting a lot of my normal text speak, such as “ur” to “your” and “becuz” to “because” or “thght” to “thought”. Or even “str8″ to “straight”. Just to name a few :)

    • Arthur – Great point on correcting text and I should have mentioned it in the article. Just because a business is texting does not suddenly mean all logic goes out the window. Whether it is on the phone, information on your website, text, etc., it is important to represent your business in the way that you want to be viewed.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. I prefer to text and most of my tenants do as well. I had one that was older and prefered calling however a year or two in she started to prefer to text so I followed along :) My pet peeve is horrible punctuation and spelling with some folks. I prefer to spell correctly and use punctuation as I think it is much more professional and in my mind leaves something to be desired for those that won’t or can’t.

  5. Sara Cunningham on

    We do almost everything by text or email. For one we live in Europe and are 7 hours ahead of our PM companies and tenants. It’s much easier to send messages during the day here when it’s still the middle of the night there. That way as soon as the day starts for them they already have any messages. Not to mention the few times we do get calls it doesn’t seem to matter how many times we’ve told them about the time difference, it’s always the middle of the night here when someone calls lol.

    I also have to admit that I can’t be bothered to answer the phone or to have long conversations most of the time either. I think that society just accepts this kind of communication as the norm nowadays. How did we manage before all this technology was available, makes you wonder.

    • Sara – I always feel bad saying just what you said, “I also have to admit that I can’t be bothered to answer the phone or to have long conversations most of the time either.”. I have a little voicemail icon on my phone, but it is so rare for me to check it (for personal, my assistant always checks our business one). If it is important, someone will text me.

      With that said, Google Voice also transcribes the message (although it is highly inaccurate). I do like the fact that I can listen to the voicemail at the push of a button, instead of having to call into my voicemail to get it.

  6. Dawn Anastasi on

    I text with almost all of my tenants. It seems to be their preferred method of communication and so I follow suit. It saves me time, so why not? I always make sure my texts are written in plain English, however, not “text speak”.

  7. One caveat to texting is that your tone of voice is often mis-interpreted.especially when dealing with tenants and late rent etc.. I have had more than one occasion where I thought I was just sending a polite message or reminder and it was taken the wrong way. Certain conversations are better off had in person or on phone as to not have any mistakes in tone etc.

  8. I steer as much communication as I can to email.
    I’m okay with texting as it is far better than the phone.
    Phone is the worst by far.
    Thankfully only one local tenant has the as his preferred method.
    In my out of state rentals I have a Google Voice line and everyone seems to like to use the phone for some reason. I don’t even have it setup to ring a phone, just goes to voicemail.

    Has anyone ever gotten a “good” call from a tenant? It is just a sliding scale of bad. I want to know what I’m in for before talking with them. It is better for them too. If there is an issue and they ask me questions when I am off guard then I can’t really give them good answers.

    One thing I will say is that I would never use Facebook messaging as a means to communicate. I find it highly unreliable as far as getting alerts. Sometimes I get an email letting me know I have one. Other times I’m not on for a few days and I see something rather important has been sitting there.

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