Do you answer your phone while on the toilet????

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Alliance

Let me start by giving credit to Harrison Painter for his post...

I am a firm believer that just because we are Realtors, we do not need to answer our phones 24/7 regardless of where we are, who we are with, and what we are doing.  I really feel that we have to be considerate of other people's feelings and plain ol' common courtesy.

Before everyone begins to assume that I never answer my phone let me be clear...most times when my phone rings, I answer it.  However, here are sometimes that I think we should let the call go to voicemail:

  • At a drives me nuts when people so rudely take calls while someone is giving a presentation.
  • While with a Client...The client in front of you absolutely deserves your attention
  • In the Bathroom!...This is so disrespectful to the person on the other end of the line when you are holding a conversation and flushing the toilet at the same time.
  • During my son's soccer game...At the end of the day, watching him get excited about making a big play is priceless.  What kind of message am I sending my child if I cannot take a break from the phone for one hour???
  • At a Closing...What a lasting message you leave when you are jumping up from the table to answer calls! (No, it is not the message of what a great Realtor you are because you are busy!)
  • The check out line or deli counter of a store...just plain rude!
  • When you are frazzled!  You need to sound professional when you answer. You should be able to take the time to speak to the person & possibly take some notes.
  • When you know your client (or cooperating Realtor)is just overreacting or freaking out. Sometimes people just need to vent for a minute.  This gives you time to gather your thoughts and possibly answers to their questions that they may leave on voicemail.  This could keep you from reacting too quickly and without proper information to keep things together or resolve issues.


I have taken the rare 9pm call (while laying in bed) which did turn into a 9am showing and a sale but that is the exception... not the rule.  Also, I do lay the groundwork with my clients and I let them know that my phone is turned off when I am with them and they understand that it is turned off when I am with other clients.  I have never lost a client because they had to leave a message.

So...what are your thoughts???


P. S. I am committed to providing quality service and helping home buyers and sellers.  I can assure you that if you call me to buy or sell and home (or with a referral), leave a message...I will return your call just as quickly as I can provide you with my undivided attention.

Comments (28)

Fernando Herboso - Associate Broker MD, & VA
Maxus Realty Group of Samson Properties - Clarksburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Actually it is harder for a men that a woman. . we have  further  distance because we are standing up . .. .therefore the incriminating noise is louder:)

Mar 30, 2009 02:01 PM
Mark Hall
Realty One Group Cascadia - Vancouver, WA
Homes for Sale Vancouver Washington

The toilet? Never! The echo is so bad in my bathroom.

I usually answer even after hours. Over the years I can think of 3 or 4 sales that have come out of calls where I was thinking "Who in the HECK would call at this hour?"

Mar 30, 2009 02:02 PM
Bob Foster
Century 21 Lanthorn R. E. Ltd. Belleville, Ontario - Belleville, ON

I  like we should add "while driving", unless you have a bluetooth hands-free device. I know that cell phone use in cars in illegal in some areas, permitted on others, but I have seen too many people driving erratically while they chat to think this is a good idea.



Mar 30, 2009 02:08 PM
Kathleen Harron
Century 21 Alliance - Wildwood Crest, NJ

Thanks for the comments ladies, glad to see that people agree with me. have no idea what a Ladie's Restroom is like when a convention of 1200 people breaks for 15 minutes!!! Echos & distance pale in comparison.

Bob-I had driving on the list, then I removed it. I was sure that I would get beat up on that one!

Mar 30, 2009 02:09 PM
Lorrie Shaw
Professional Pet Sitting - Ann Arbor, MI

One of my basic rules of thumb: 'that's what voicemail is for!'

It's like having a personal assistant, when you use voicemail properly. Sometimes I have calls come in when it's just not a convenient time, and when that is the case I just let voicemail take the call. That way, I can call the client back when I am prepared, clear-headed and most of all when I can give the client the undivided attention that they deserve.

Mar 30, 2009 02:18 PM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

You are absolutely right, nothing worse than hearing a toilet flush in the background. On the other hand you have a few minutes with nothing to do...But please, wait to flush...

Mar 30, 2009 02:26 PM

Great post! I have answered the phone in the bathroom - never good.

Mar 30, 2009 02:27 PM
David Spencer
Keller Williams Northland - Kansas City, MO
Show Me real estate in Kansas City

If discreet, who would know?

Mar 30, 2009 02:53 PM
Tim and Pam Cash
Crye-Leike (Sango) - Clarksville, TN
Real Estate Professionals - Clarksville TN

I dont take the phone into the throne room with me.  There are certain times that I refrain from answering and that would be one of them.  Another would be while spending time with my daughter. 

Mar 30, 2009 02:55 PM
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate

We used to work with another agent who always took her phone into the bathroom with her, and answered it every time it rang!  The echo on the other end must have been horrible to the caller!

Mar 30, 2009 03:09 PM

Funny I saw this tonight.  Earlier I took a call from another agent about a listing when I heard my 2 year old doing something in the bathroom.  I walked into the bathroom and she flushed the toilet--very embarrasing!

Mar 30, 2009 03:11 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Phone calls need to be timely -- but good grief a person needs time to eat and well do other things.

Mar 30, 2009 03:24 PM
real estate real estate
Providence, RI

I understand that. I just hate to listen to the toilet flashing sound. Too annoying.

Mar 30, 2009 03:55 PM
Harrison Painter
GoGladiator Media - Carmel, IN
New Media Consultant

I work in the investment world, and do not really look at what I do as a job, but a lifestyle choice that I love.

Since most of my clients live in a different time zone, I tend to answer my phone up until about Midnight Eastern / 9:00 P.M. for the West Coasties. (One of my tag lines is: Call my competitors at Noon, call me at Midnight, see who answers!)

Now, for full disclosure, I do not really recommend my lifestyle to anybody, but it works for me! LOL

While I do spend time with my family, we have designated Sunday as family day, and I work very hard to not answer my phone.

There are also many days where I take my kids out with me. (You might have seen that I am starting to incorporate them in my blog videos too). Since most of my clients live out of state, the bulk of my work is divided between being on the phone relationship building, finding homes, and running rehab crews. So I really am not in the super professional formal mode until they fly into town for a city tour.

One lesson I need to learn more about is when to shut my phone off, for me, it is a sick addiction, and the food that feeds my competitive soul!

Thank you for sharing this information, and I hope that all of the talk about answering the phone gets all of you that much more motivated to make it ring OFF THE HOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember, there are a lot of Realtors who do not have any rings to answer in this market, so we really need to appreciate the people that have taken the time to call us.

Thank you,

Harrison Painter

Mar 30, 2009 04:15 PM
Kathy Kooyman
Home Realty - Pella, IA

Kathy, like many things in life the more experienced we get the more widsom we have.  I agree with your list, and do not jump to answer my phone as much as I did when I was a new agent. some of the other responders in this post, these days the phone calls are far and few between and I need to take very good care of what clients I do have.

Mar 31, 2009 02:06 AM
Toula Rosebrock
Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ - Lacey Township, NJ
Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township,

ToulaRosebrock.comHi Kathy:

This was interesting!  I tend to answer the phone, almost all of the time.

Never on a listing appointment. 

But yes, sometimes when I'm in the shower.

Mar 31, 2009 05:43 AM
Kathleen Harron
Century 21 Alliance - Wildwood Crest, NJ

Great responses.  As I said before, I do make every effort to long as the time is right.  I was in an appointment today for less than hour and I had 4 messages (from 4 missed calls).  I returned all calls and 3 of the 4 said thanks for returning my call so quickly...the other one did not say that but gave no indication that leaving a message was a problem.

I think that part of it is the "instant gratification society" that we live in, both on the callers & callee's part.  We all need to take a breath and respect each other's time...even in the shower.  I would never call my client's at 9pm so I don't expect them to do that to me.

Mar 31, 2009 09:08 AM
Kathleen Harron
Century 21 Alliance - Wildwood Crest, NJ

Erica, Thanks for your seems like we are on the same page.  I will be attending a funeral today and you better believe that my phone will be in my car.  I will not be that idiot whose phone rings during the prayer!

Don't you think that instant gratification got us into the financial mess we are in (speaking about the Country as a whole, not any specific person)?  That will be my next blog.


Mar 31, 2009 11:56 PM
Gary J. Rocks
Juba Team Realty - Jefferson Township, NJ


I think it is totally disrespectful when you or someone else is taking calls or texting during an appointment. Things tend to get lost in the translation.

Apr 01, 2009 08:32 AM
Kathryn Acciari
Arc Home LLC - Shrewsbury, MA
Mortgage Loan Originator

Kathleen, the title of your post struck a nerve with me.  I've had other agents call me while they were on the toilet, and the sound of flushing makes me want to disconnect the call.  It makes me feel as though I am unimportant to them.  I've also seen agents going in and out of public restrooms with their cell phones glued to their ears.  It takes a lot of talent to go to the loo with just one hand.

As for timely answering of calls, I answer the phone when the time is right for me.

Apr 03, 2009 12:39 AM