If Your Call Is After 5:30PM, I'll return it the Next Business Day?

Real Estate Agent with Virtual Properties - Atlanta Real Estate 255736

Written in response to How often do you check your e-mail (which didn't seem to have anything to do with e-mail)


I can understand what you are saying and thinking but I've lived on both sides of this.

Real Estate is a business, so I treat it like one. You call any business after their posted hours and they will not be picking up the phone. What do customers do when the don't reach them, move on to the next one. If I lose a customer or client due to my "hours" it's ok.  Think about it?  If I have someone upset about my posted hours and expectations and they want to violate that, they will do that later on too.

That's what happens in real estate most of the time.

I never could get realtors that weren't 24/7 realtors, until someone asked me: "Is there anything I can do at 6PM that I can't take care of in the AM?" NOPE

So why do I need to take a call from you (the other agent) at 6PM? I have a family I'd rather spend time with, sorry. You're not even 3rd on my list of people I would want to hear from. What could you possibly need that can't wait?

Now that I am one of those "after 5:30" people. It's about living my life and running my business. My business has INCREASED since then.... and you're (figurative) still the same place on my list of people I want to hear from.

Just in case:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. My Client's Family
  4. Business
  5. Everyone Else

Are there times I stray from this, absolutely! If I get an offer, schedule a late appointment, ect, then I'll call or text at least. If you (other agent) followed directions, I will get the offer and be able to respond immediately, if you sent the offer to my Broker. I'll see it when I get there I guess. Too bad.

Life's too short to be at YOUR beck and call. What did your post have to do with e-mail by the way? Am I arrogant? maybe, but my Family comes before my business.

When you run a business that is 24/7 like that, you become a slave to the business. Eventually, something else suffers. So the real question is what is suffering in your life due to all the stress you have when an agent doesn't call you back?

As a side note, what about weekends?

Did you know that it costs Truet Cathy $500 Million Dollars for closing on Sunday?  Chick-fil-a is a top a lot of lists as most successful.  Truett has Faith,  I do too, ... DO YOU?


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Mike Russell
Mike Russell & Associates - Overland Park, KS
Overland Park Kansas Real Estate

I totally agree about not being 24/7. I love those agents who promote that real estate is my life. I think that shutting it down at 5;30 is a little early. Buyers and sellers are very impatient and if they are waiting for information that they deem important tomorrow morning may be too late.

Jun 29, 2009 01:34 AM #56
Aaron Poling
Long & Foster - Martinsburg, WV
Working to get YOU the BEST Deal!

I like the attitude. Most other agents think I am crazy when I say that if I lose business because of my other priorities thats ok.

Jun 29, 2009 01:46 AM #59
Coleen DeGroff
Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL

Agents who work by appointments and scheduled hours seem to be taken more seriously.  If a call/email comes in from a client after business hours, I'll listen to the voice mail and read the email.....if it's an issue that cannot wait, I will respond promptly.  Otherwise, I take care of it the next day.....during business hours.

Jun 29, 2009 01:49 AM #60
Scott Rhinehart
Altus Realty Solutions - Mission Viejo, CA

Wow, I am stunned by so many of the comments I've read.  As Realtors, we are professionals and with that designation comes certain responsibilities not required of 9 to 5 workers.  We are asking people to trust us with the biggest financial decision most of them will ever make.  To me, that means being available 24/7.  Please note that I wrote being available 24/7...not working 24/7.  I am pleased to say that being available 24/7 for my clients has never interfered with my life or my enjoyment of a vacation or one of my grandkids' school activities.  Much the opposite...being there for my clients has enriched my life.

The key is that when you have enough business to CHOOSE you can live by YOUR schedule.  When you don't have any business, then any appointment is the best one.  Sorry, Joshua, this sounds like a left-over from a EST workshop.  I much prefer my father's motto about business:  "If you take care of your client all else will follow."

For those who listed God as their top priority (and I say this with great respect) then perhaps Real Estate isn't the profession for you.  Your calling may be for the ministry or priesthood or be coming a missionary and working in Darfur to help feed and comfort those poor starving children who are war victims.  Compassion is a rare quality and should not be wasted on real estate when there is so much need in this world.

Jun 29, 2009 03:49 AM #61
Robert Clarke
Tenafly, NJ

Yes, yes, yes. When will real estate agents start acting like they are in business? I am so sick of getting calls from agents -- and less frequently from clients -- at 8 pm, 9 pm, or even 10 pm regarding matters that could and should be handled during normal business hours. Do you think attorneys call each other on their cell phones at 9 o'clock at night about a case they are working on? They do not. Do you think CPAs call each other at 7 pm regarding an audit or tax return? They do not.

Until most Realtors start acting like professionals, it will be very difficult to get the public to view us as professionals.

Jun 29, 2009 04:20 AM #62
Joshua Jarvis
Virtual Properties - Atlanta Real Estate - Duluth, GA
Moving Families Forward.

What is funny is the all the comments in agreement totally read the post, the ones in disagreement, ACTUALLY THINK I AM TALKING ABOUT CLIENTS!

I set up the same boundaries with clients, but Agents are the ones that can wait.

Jun 29, 2009 04:25 AM #64
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Joshua - As someone mentioned earlier, the key is communicating to both our clients as well as the other parties in the transaction on what they can expect.  While I am not a 24/7 LO (never have been, never will be), I do recognize the need to be flexible and I do convey this when I discuss my "hours" with my clients/prospects as well as everyone else in the transaction.

As a result. I try and accommodate my clients whenever possible, which is why I will occasionally meet with clients/prospects after 5pm or on Saturday for those that are unable to meet during normal business hours.  I will often return calls to Realtors on weekends, especially if it's regarding a current client and a prospective offer or an active escrow.

I communicate the way I work to all my clients/prospects the first time I meet them.  I also convey my work style to Realtors I work with.  For the most part, my clients understand and respect my hours and do not expect me to answer my phone at all hours of night.  After nearly eight years in the biz, the ones I have discovered who have the biggest issue with my hours are Realtors.

It still shocks and amazes me the Realtors who expect me to be at their beck and call 24/7.  I wasn't joking about the reference I made in my first comment about Realtors who have left nasty vmails and sent threatening emails simply because I didn't answer my phone when they called me 20x on Sat nite at 9:30pm.  That has really happened to me.  I have had other Realtors who did the same when I didn't answer my phone on Sunday morning at 8am.  SERIOUSLY?

I have even had clients complain to me about how their Realtor called them at inappropriate times and days.  While there may be some clients who appreciate that level of service, there are others who will find that kind of behavior absolutely annoying and disrespectful.  Obviously, these Realtors never took the time to understand what level service their clients expected of them.  Either that or these Realtors are just so self-centered and self-absorbed that they simply have no concern for anyone else but themselves.

Anyways, sorry for the long comment but I just wanted to share that while not all of us work the same way, it doesn't make any one way right or wrong, just different.  In the end, as long as our clients understand the way we work and that they have no problem with it, then it's all good.

Jun 29, 2009 05:00 AM #65
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I check often all emails, voice messages and return the message promptly of course.  Why wouldn't I?

Patricia Aulson

Jun 29, 2009 05:54 AM #66
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Wow, great topic that really struck a nerve with people.  I did catch that you mentioned fellow realtors, not clients.

I think a lot of it comes from our society's conditioning of the need for immediate action.  Have a thought?  Act on it now!  Have a need?  Meet that need now!  It reminds me of those old late night infomercials-call now, operators are standing by!

Realtors are the only ones with this problem.

I try to be responsive and available to realtors who call me for help, and will answer evening calls if I can and it's not too late.  But calling at 9:30 for a full staging the next day tells me that someone expects a miracle.  I'm good, and I would like to help, but there are really only 24 hours in a day.

Jun 29, 2009 06:02 AM #67
Scott Rhinehart
Altus Realty Solutions - Mission Viejo, CA

Call me old school, but other agents are my clients, too, in a manner of speaking.  In working on a transaction my goal is a win-win for all parties.  As a Broker, I don't have a satisfied client if I don't work with and respect the other agent.  While I have had agents and clients call me at all hours, I've never had an agent or a client call me with a stupid question.  And I would hope that they never felt they got a stupid answer.

I have had a few agents not return my phone calls for several days.  Here in southern California it's called Diva-syndrome: agents too busy, too self-important, too this or that to return calls, return emails, return professional courtesy for professional courtesy.

My final point:  if an international client or international representative calls me when their sun is up and mine happens to be down...I'm answering that call.  It's the nature of the beast and I am proud to be old school on this.


Jun 29, 2009 07:24 AM #68
Joshua Jarvis
Virtual Properties - Atlanta Real Estate - Duluth, GA
Moving Families Forward.

Scott - Great point!  Having oversea clients does make the case for an exception.  I do this also for veterans.

No one asks stupid questions, that's a misnomer.  There are LAZY questions, though.

Jun 29, 2009 07:50 AM #69
Paul McFadden
Paratex - Seattle, WA
Pest Control, Seattle, WA.

Joshua: I believe the name of the game is balance. I generally take the weekends off although am available for realtors if need be. Here's the thing. No one expects us to be a slave to our job. The other side of the coin is we should be available within reason. We want to show everyone we're working hard for them. Thanks for the great post!

Jun 29, 2009 08:00 AM #70
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Josh, this is great and I agree. I wrote a post several years ago on Are you Dennys or Outback? Denny being open 24/7 and Outback for dinner. I will not be a slave to my business, or be avalable 24/7, never have and never will. 

As a mom of five I never missed one of my children's events and I have no regrets.


Jun 29, 2009 08:07 AM #71
Jeff Payne
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Panama City Real Estate

Josh,  it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to be a 24/7 agent.  If we don't teach people how to treat us, we will continue to get those 9PM calls or worse yet those 6 AM calls.  I hate it when I get a call from an agent wanting to see a property at the last minute because they are not prepared or they can not respect their own time by setting appointments.   We can control everybit of our business with one word... APPOINTMENTS.   Set appointments during the time that you want to work and no other time.  Meet with buyers BEFORE you put them in your car, set appointments with sellers when you are available.  Set all expectations up front.  My phone does not ring in the evenings or early mornings because I set those expectations upfront.  As far as the home inspector being 24/7, give me a break, you don't need and can not be 24/7.  Don't you set appointments?

Great blog by the way.

Jun 29, 2009 10:11 AM #72
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Joshua - You also train your customers how to treat you.  If you get a call on voicemail at 6:00 p.m. and return the call in the morning, the next time they will know what to expect.  An agent that "jumps" at 8:00 p.m. will keep getting calls at 8:00 pm.!

Jun 29, 2009 11:16 AM #73
John Jones
Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty - Dallas, TX

It's a matter of personal preference and how you want to run your business.  Great thing about being self-employed...

In my opinion, 5:30PM is too early.  But that's my opinion.  I'm a lender, and I know for a fact that a large number, if not the majority, of my competitors lock the doors at the bank at 4-6PM.  So I have an edge over them.  Plus, most people work "normal" hours, and work time is not a good time for most people to provide the focus and concentration that is required to answer questions accurately.  Try asking a guy on a cell phone at a manufacturing plant what his social security number is while tons of sheet metal is falling onto concrete in the background.  Try asking a person how much money they make when they're standing around their co-workers.  Not a good time to answer those questions for most people.  If i didn't answer the phone and/or return calls after 5:30, I'd lose a huge chunk of those people IMO.  Not to mention realtors, who expect their partners to work when they work.  If I don't do it, someone else will.

On the flipside, I stopped advertising "24/7" several years ago when I realized that it was never meant to be taken literally in the first place.  Like every other human on the planet,  I SLEEP, and I eat, and do a lot of other things that everyone else does (like spend time with family).  The same is true for everyone.  Yes, there are people like doctors, police officers and firefighters that have to work holidays and crazy hours, but even they have days off where they don't have to answer a phone call or worry about work.   I think a fair amount of common sense and mutual respect comes into play here.  If you're going to be upset that I didn't answer/return your call after 9PM or before 7:30-8AM, then I probably don't want you as a client anyway.  We all have times when family and other life commitments take priority and anyone who doesn't understand and/or respect that to some degree needs to re-examine their own priorities. 

Of course, there are times when i'll stray outside of my "unwritten" hours of operation...it all depends on the situation.  Sometimes things happen at the last minute or people are in places or situations where they can't talk during normal hours.  Some advanced warning and i'll make the time. 

So about posting hours?  I don't do it because then it creates an expectation that you will ALWAYS ANSWER your phone during those hours.  I may be in the mood to answer a call at 9:30PM one night, others i may want to go to bed early (like tonight).   If I tell people that I won't return calls past 8PM, the guy who gets my voice mail at 7:59PM because i have a family commitment will think i'm a slacker.  You could be the guy who taught Tony Robbins time management and still not nail it perfectly every time.  Life is just too spontaneous.  Sometimes expectations are better left set by overall experience, not just based on a general set of hours.  Just my $.02.

One more thing.  Quite often, people who call late hours are EXPECTING to get voice mail, and they are often startled when they hear a real person on the phone.  Sometimes they do it because they don't want to talk to a person when the intial contact is made. 

Jun 29, 2009 11:17 AM #74
Marcy Eastham
Town & Country Realty Corvallis Oregon - Corvallis, OR

Work life balance is a fantasy unless you set boundaries.  As a broker, if I left you a vmail after hours, I wouldn't expect to hear back until the next day -- or whenever your message says you'll reply -- unless it was urgent. And I would preface my message my telling you it was urgent.  We need to treat each other with respect and recognize that a rested and healthy cooperating broker is easier to deal with than a tired and cranky cooperating broker! Get your rest, take time for your family or your dog.

Great post!   

Jun 29, 2009 11:52 AM #75
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Your post jolted my memory. 

Twice I had buyer clients who called me late into the night - I answered.  I spent hours being their counselor, advisor, psychiatrist, lender, etc etc.  One guy was a decent sort but overanalyzed everything - other guy a real jerk and called me constantly through Thanksgiving weekend.

In the end, neither took my advice and the deals were never consummated. Although I almost always answer my phone after 8 or 9pm, I've never had clients who drained me for so long at night with nothing to show for it afterward!

Jun 29, 2009 02:24 PM #76
Michael Ford
San Diego, CA

24/7 is fine if they mean 24 hours a week and 7 days a month.  clients will call at all hours and SO WILL AGENTS if you allow it.  we've all had that client that calls at all hours ...they can be dealt with.  the agents that call are another story.  i have had to lay down the law with many who it turned out were part timers and taking care of the realty in the "non-working" hours. others are simply spaz's who need to get a life.

business hours are 8-6 unless there  a damn good reason for the call. there are very few matters that cannot be dealt with tomorrow, during business hours.  learn the term and use it.   occassionally i see a number pop up that i recognize...if it's well past 6 p.m. i answer with a chiding "you better be calling to invite me to a party"!

recently i had an agent accept an offer on an REO and want to handle the paperwork at 6:30 on a friday...i asked him if the asset manager worked weekends and when he said no, i told him to go take his wife to dinner...the work day was over for me at least.  a few days later he mentioned that he'd been fishing!

just because the phone rings doesn't mean you have to answer.  i'm pleased that there are so many others that have the same policy.


Jun 29, 2009 03:57 PM #77
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

"spaz's who need to get a life".   ROTFLMAO!  I've often thought the exact same thing Mike.

Jun 30, 2009 03:26 AM #79
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Moving Families Forward.
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