Realtors...why don't they answer their phones???

59 Replies

I recently purchased a home a little further away than I normally do. I used a realtor familiar with the area. I was pleased and decided I would use her to list the home as well. I told her it would be ready in 3 weeks...be ready to list it. I followed up in 2 weeks, left her a message stating the home would be ready next week and asked her to take a look and let me know if I should make any changes. Never heard back from her. So, I call realtor #2. He is the top selling agent in the area. Called and texted for 3 days telling him it was ready to list,we needed to sign the listing agreement, and get it on the MLS. He finally emailed the listing agreement which I docusigned but 3 days passed and still not on MLS. So, I take pics and put on Craigslist and Facebook yard sales. Had tons of replies from qualified buyers which I forwarded to the realtor since I had already signed the listing agreement. We got a contract that night. Am I being unrealistic in my expectations? I've bought and sold several homes with the 2nd realtor in the past 6 months. I don't expect to be top priority but I do expect them to answer or at least give a prompt response. It's not just these 2 either. I don't know that I've ever called a realtor and gotten an answer on first call. Some never call back. I went through the realtor class but don't remember them teaching us not to answer the phone. Any thoughts?

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I agree with @Mindy Jensen @Michael Hicks and sorry you are experiencing this. It's not just buyers and seller but plenty of realtors wont answer their calls from other realtors as well.   Many times its a critical part of the transaction and no ever picks up!    I just love closing week when the other realtors becomes a Ghost.     Sometime I wonder how they get any business because, as Mindy put it, customer service seems dead with many people.  

I answer my phone on every call or at least call right back if I'm already on the line.  I'm not too busy to talk to my clients.  That's what we signed up for.   Hope it works out.

@Michael Hicks  huge pet peeve of mine.

I called on a bank owed 35 lot subdivision listing agent ( and I am a broker in same state) never calls I call again... finally one week later she falls... all excited.. I informed her I bought another bank owned deal and was no longer interested... she was deflated to say the least.

I think if brokers answered there phone their business would increase a lot .. B/C many people if you don't answer don't leave a message and then just call the next agent.

I always tell agents even if you can't speak at the time pick up tell them that and schedule a return call... 

It's pretty common unfortunately. Of course I  Don't answer my phone either, but my number isn't listed, but my teams number is. They answer the phone or else they Dont work on my team anymore.  

The second realtor came to me and offered to drop his commission since I was buying and selling so much.  It was by .5%.  I appreciated it but it wasn't something I would trade for good service.  

@Jay Hinrichs , I tend to be loyal to people once I use someone several times.  I give my agent a call when I am looking at a house.  If he doesn't answer, like you said, I move to the next agent.  Deals are time sensitive.  If it takes a day or 2 for the agent to get back to me, more than likely someone else has already snagged the deal.  

I wish I knew the answer to this question.  I went through two agents that I think would have been great to work with if they could just communicate properly.  Having said that, third time was a charm for me and I found an agent here on BP that not only is very responsive, but extremely knowledgeable about the type of investing and area I'm investing in so it all worked out in the end.  I would recommend you keep trying until you find one that has all the characteristics you want, eventually you'll find that diamond in the rough.  

Usually when my agent doesn't pick up the phone, he texts me right away to let me know when he'll be calling back.  I get tons of texts that say "call you in 45"  "out until 3, call you then", "ok to call you tomorrow?".  And he does.  Every time.  It's ok to not be at your customers' beck and call, but managing their expectations and living up to your word for when you'll be back in touch is priceless.

I think sometimes they get too familiar or casual with you and don't think time is as important because they can always get back to you when they're ready. 

Let me say it works the same for landlords.  The owner of the complex next to mine asked me last week why I was full and she had several empties. I responded, "I answer the phone when it rings and I schedule appointments as soon as possible after that call so they don't have time to shop somewhere else."

Originally posted by @Linda Weygant :

Usually when my agent doesn't pick up the phone, he texts me right away to let me know when he'll be calling back.  I get tons of texts that say "call you in 45"  "out until 3, call you then", "ok to call you tomorrow?".  And he does.  Every time.  It's ok to not be at your customers' beck and call, but managing their expectations and living up to your word for when you'll be back in touch is priceless.

 I do not expect to be at his beck and call but I do expect a response within a reasonable time.  That I am not getting.  Texts are fine with me but I rarely get that.  

Early in my career as an agent, a friend of mine who had been an agent for a long time told me the #1 rule to success in this business was answering your phone.   Early in the morning, late at night, in the movie theater....answer your phone.  It is amazing how hard it is to get some realtors on the phone.

I have been trying to contact the listing agent for a 20 acre track in Yulee, Florida.. After multiple phone calls and emails I received an email response that was approximately one sentence long "its available".... I have now decided to try to contact the owner of the property directly and cut the realtor out... I know that's not very professional but after the service I got I don't really care!
Originally posted by @Mark Fries :
I have been trying to contact the listing agent for a 20 acre track in Yulee, Florida..

After multiple phone calls and emails I received an email response that was approximately one sentence long

"its available"....

I have now decided to try to contact the owner of the property directly and cut the realtor out... I know that's not very professional but after the service I got I don't really care!

One of the reasons I got my license in Miami was after 2 years of renting and dealing with lazy agents, I thought 'If they can make it, I can make it'. Fast forward 5 years and I opened my own company and sell $5ML a year. 

When I first got started, the #1 thing clients told me was "I used you because you answered the phone or called me back right away". People laugh, especially in other cities, when I tell them the 'secret' to my success was responding to people and being friendly. Maybe because I'm not from Miami (Born in Philly) or maybe because I worked in Hospitality for so long, but being nice and responsive just seemed like a basic tenet of being a human. 

Oh well for them, many agents since went out of business and blamed it on the economy, too many realtors, language barrier, etc. (I never learned to speak Spanish either) 

To this day I still deal with agents on a daily basis who DON'T answer their phones AND have full voicemail boxes! Its maddening but I remember that one of the reasons I'm successful Is their lack of professionalism, so its a double edge sword that I now embrace. 

I third the ‘customer service is dead’ concept that @Mindy Jensen suggested, and so I’ve made above and beyond customer service the foundation of my own business.
I will say- and this is just me- that if you need a fast response, to text. I won’t take calls or check voice mail if I’m with a client- that’s part of my customer service model, but I can see a text and answer it discreetly nearly anytime.

I don’t think customer service is dead. However, I do agree many agents do not grasp the concept completely. I had my license in two different states and the reason I got it was because no one could recommend a good agent when I wanted to buy so I became their agent too. I think lots of agents get into the business because it doesn’t require a huge investment like a college degree and it’s flexible with great pay. They don’t understand the pay is completely based on how much effort they put in and flexible is a double edge sword since they have to be willing to do listing appointments and showings when the clients are available. I heard another agent say they didn’t want to show houses on weekends and all I could think was “well, you probably won’t be doing this for very long then.” I find often the top agents have too many clients and it has more to do with marketing dollars invested than customer service. I would suggest a hungry agent who will do what you want and then tell them exactly what you expect. I actually pick my agents based on the pictures they put up for houses they are listing. I want an agent who understands the importance of those images and doesn’t just slap up a pic of an open toilet for the hall bath.

@Sharon Powell Agree completely! They only time you don't answer a call is when you are sitting in front of a client, or at a closing, that's good customer service. At that moment, they get & deserve 100% of your attention and they need to feel like they are your most important clients. I used to set that expectation up front and let them know, if I don't answer there are only 2 reasons why and I will call you back as soon as I'm finished. A closing is a good place to be able to text an email if someone is trying to get a hold of you and only in an emergency I'd apologize, excuse myself and take the call outside the room. I do think customer service is dead because no one really communicates with each other and I think the art of it and understanding its the lifeline of your business has been lost. If an agent is that successful and has so many clients they can't return a call in 24 hours ( which is still way too long) then they have the money to hire an assistant to answer the phone and field calls all day so at least they get a real person and not just VM.

@Dannielle Hoffman   You're cracking me up with the open toilet!!! I thought I was the only person who cringed every time I see it. It drives me crazy even in an appraisal

There's no shortage of brother-in-law realtors out there that "work" real estate sales on the side. They are unknowledgeable, unprofessional and unresponsive.  

I was an agent years ago, and it can be a gig that is as close to being unemployed as you can get and still say you have a job. 

My experience in real estate as an investor/client is that it's not even close to the 80/20 rule, it's more like the 87/10/3 rule - 3% are competent professionals that are awesome to work with, 10% are average agents and 87% are clueless dingbats (I see these all the time on the other end of my transactions). 

@Christi Hawkins No, you definitely are not the only one! I also agree there are only a few reasons to not answer the phone. However, we both know with half the realtor population that is not the case.

There are tons of great agents but for every good one there are two that are less than satisfactory. I only did it part time and I had several clients who told me that I was better than the past 3 agents they had so I don’t think you have to do it full time to be great. However, I do think you have to have a flexible schedule that can work around the clients. I worked from home so it was very easy to just shift my work hours if I needed to for the client.

I agree on the assistants for the top agents but I think some do have them and it doesn’t help. Maybe they aren’t picking very good assistants, I don’t really know. I can only go off my experiences and some of those top ones weren’t as good as I would expect. Although, a few were and I learned some great tricks from them :)

@Dannielle Hoffman agree about the part time agents and I hate it when full time agents put them down. When I first started I waited tables and bartended to pay the bills until I was able to get my business off the ground. The other agents in my office had at least 1 of 2 advantages I didn’t and in some cases they had both, an established business with lots of referrals or a very rich husband who paid all the bills Unfortunately, I had neither and I had to work twice as hard Don’t ever discount part time agents, unless it’s their choice not to work their business full time and in those cases they wouldn’t be my first pick anyway New agents are hungry and yes they will make mistakes. You don’t know what you don’t know but in my case I had the best broker and I was surrounded by people who wanted me to succeed and helped me through it every step of the way I also agree with you about assistants You get what you pay for An assistant refects you and you won’t get much trying to go cheap Spend the money you need to get a good one It will be one of the best investments in your business you could ever make 

Originally posted by @Christi Hawkins :

@Dannielle Hoffman agree about the part time agents and I hate it when full time agents put them down. When I first started I waited tables and bartended to pay the bills until I was able to get my business off the ground. The other agents in my office had at least 1 of 2 advantages I didn’t and in some cases they had both, an established business with lots of referrals or a very rich husband who paid all the bills Unfortunately, I had neither and I had to work twice as hard Don’t ever discount part time agents, unless it’s their choice not to work their business full time and in those cases they wouldn’t be my first pick anyway New agents are hungry and yes they will make mistakes. You don’t know what you don’t know but in my case I had the best broker and I was surrounded by people who wanted me to succeed and helped me through it every step of the way I also agree with you about assistants You get what you pay for An assistant refects you and you won’t get much trying to go cheap Spend the money you need to get a good one It will be one of the best investments in your business you could ever make 

Totally agree on having proper training, a good broker, and the ability to work it full-time! (or if you have to work, do something at night like bartending). 

I'm glad to see you made it the same way I did in this business. I actually turned my success into a teaching gig for Florida's largest real estate company where I teach/train/mentor new & experienced agents how to get their business going or take it to the next level (Think: Mike Ferry but on a corporate level). I LOVE helping agents that WANT to be successful and have no problem teaching them to be better in which they will be eventually competing against me on listing appointments!

I empathize with Michael. I've had three agents here within past 10 days. One gave me poor construction advise regarding a deck, " just punch holes in the boards with a screw driver to see if you have weak boards". Dummkopf idea, how about providing a list of local handymen or contractors. She arrived with no presentation, no comps, nothing.

2nd agent, chatting to much, arrived to estate farm country with pointed silver shoes, and chatting about a near vacation to France...Running solo managing two homes on 5 acres, and you talking up your France vacation and I can take care of you when I return...No thank you.

3rd agent, great guy, great Scandinavian last name, savoy dresser, has over 20 rental properties (he says), brought comps, information regarding my property, personal signed guarantee performance letter, and spent time discussing property.

Each real estate agent gave me a different comp for my property. Agent 1, list for $650k, Agent 2, list for $680k, Agent 3, list for $750k.

Q: Do I list FSBO or go with Agent number 3?

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