You are a professional, right? So stop texting... stop hiding... and pick-up the telephone.

Real Estate Agent with PREA Signature Realty -

As someone who lives and breathes in a digital world, I regularly text, e-mail and use social media to communicate with friends, family and colleagues.  However, I use traditional, commonly accepted modes of communication when it comes to substantive business correspondence such as:

  • Telephone Call with Confirming E-Mail
  • E-Mail
  • Business Letter Sent via Facsimile
  • Business Letter Sent via U.S. Mail

Usually, I try to mimic the method of transmission of the message used by the other person.  If you send me an e-mail inquiry, I typically will respond via e-mail to the e-mail address that you used to send the original message to me.  However, I draw the line at texting and social media as a communication tool for agent-to-agent business communication.  Here are a few reasons:

  • Papertrail:  Texting doesn't create a papertrail that can be easily accessed or easily archived.  There are programs and systems for doing so.  However, only the real tech savvy do so. Whereas a copy of e-mails and letters are placed in the file and archived on my computer, text message aren't - except I do type out a written summary of substantive texts for the file.
  • Security:  Social media messages travel through unknown servers.  I simply don't trust that the messages will be received, that the messages won't be intentionally or inadvertently sent to the wrong location (e.g. Facebook wall versus personal message), or broadcast to unintended recipients.
  • Professional Content:  Text and social media messages often have limited number of characters.  It is difficult to fully communicate a position on a substantive issue in 140 characters or less.

More importantly, although I use multiple e-mail addresses for specific purposes, I only use a single e-mail address for business communication.  I don't use a separate e-mail address for MLS, for my website, for my business card, etc.

Here are some simple examples of the poor use of technology tools to communicate with other agents:

  • Example #1:  Scanned counteroffer is sent to listing agent with cover sheet via e-mail.  Telephone call is placed to listing agent to confirm receipt of offer.  No response to voicemail mesage.  No response to e-mail.  Deadline passes for counteroffer.  Additional telephone calls are placed to listing agent.  Again, no response.  After deadline has passed, listing agent sends reply to counteroffer via text message.  At this point, deal is dead.
  • Example #2:  Agent sends inquiry regarding contract via e-mail.  Listing agent replies via e-mail to the e-mail address used by the first agent.  No reply.  Telephone calls are placed to agent inquiring regarding status.  Agent, after claiming that amendment wasn't received, finds the e-mail and states e-mail account where the e-mail was sent is his bulk e-mail account and he doesn't check it regularly.  E-mail address is the e-mail address listed on the local association roster and on his MLS bio or profile.
  • Example #3:  Broker sends text message regarding dispute.  Listing agent replies "too lengthy to discuss via text... call me."  Broker doesn't respond.  Listing agent then places call and leaves voicemail message. No response.

My point is pretty simple.  Stop texting... stop using social media... and pick-up gosh darn telephone for business communication.  Send a confirming business letter or e-mail summarizing the conversation where appropriate. 

The rise in instant communication has resulted in some circumstances in poor communication and lazy transmission of important contractual responses.  While instaneous communication may have some benefits in timing, it certainly has some major drawbacks in terms of substance. If the tone of message is lost in e-mail, then it is even worse via text. 

So... stop hiding, pick up the telephone and act like a professional. By the way, if you think "LOL" and a "smiley face" make you look and sound like a professional, I suspect that you are dead wrong.


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PREA Signature Realty is a full service brokerage located at 1709 Park Avenue in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of the City of St. Louis.  PREA Signature proudly serves the following city neighborhoods:  Lafayette Square, Soulard, Benton Park, Benton Park West, Downtown Loft District, Forest Park Southwest, Central West End, Tower Grove East, Tower Grove South, Compton Heights, Shaw, The Hill, Dogtown, Carondelet, Holly Hills, St. Louis Hills, Dutchtown, and the Other Historic Neighborhoods of the City of Saint Louis, Missouri. 

The opinions expressed herein represent the opinions of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of PREA Signature Realty.  All photos and written content were produced by PREA Signature Realty.  All Rights Reserved - PREA Signature Realty (2009).  This content may not be reproduced or reprinted, except for Active Rain re-blogging, without express written permission of PREA Signature Realty.

For more information, visit our website at or contact Ryan Shaughnessy at 314-971-4381 or send an email to


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Coral Gundlach
Compass - Arlington, VA
Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate.

Ryan, Fantastic blog!  We have become way too casual.  I can't tell you how often emails go to bulk or spam and don't get to the recipient.  I always follow up with a phone call if I don't get an email confirmation.  And serious business over text?   Not as a first option, but I will try that as well as a 3rd back up confirmation, if emails and phone don't get a response,  because it is the one that gets through in the weakest coverage area.

Jul 11, 2010 06:52 AM #1
Jean Hanley
Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters - Hemet, CA
Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes

I have not yet texted a client.  I have, however, received text msgs from agents and responded.  I like email as my mode of transportation.  The E in email is for EVIDENCE.  Good blog post.

Jul 11, 2010 06:56 AM #2
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I have ONE property management client who told me how to text him when his property was rented...I did it and then turned off that option on my Palm smart phone....I don't need no stinking text messages!

Jul 11, 2010 06:59 AM #3
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID
Broker / Owner - Progressive Realty Corporation

Great post.  While at the NAR Leadership Training last year in Chicago they brought up that you should learn how people want to communicate (i.e. texting, email, phone, etc.)  I have started asking that and training my agents how to communicate with me.

Jul 11, 2010 06:59 AM #4
Kathy Toth
Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team

Ryan, it is crazy how some people still don't confirm email receipt for time sensitive material....yes the outbox does not lie, but the junk mail box on the other end may be full!  Phone calls communicating where and when things are sent is still important.

Jul 11, 2010 07:01 AM #5
Deborah "Dee Dee" Garvin
C2 Financial - San Diego, CA
C2 Financial

Ryan, great post.  And, may I add...whichever form of communication you use, verify receipt!  Can't tell you have many times I have gotten a voice message two days after it was left on my cell.  Never assume someone has your communication.

Jul 11, 2010 07:02 AM #6
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

I do what the Romans do also HOWEVER I didn't even think of the lack of paper trail with the texting!!!!!!!

ZOIKS!  You just made me realize that.  I am a paper trail freak too!

Jul 11, 2010 07:09 AM #7
Sonya Nevins
Sonya R. Nevins, STAR REALTY, LLC (Waterbury, CT) - Waterbury, CT

I always ask the other party (agents, lenders, client, etc) what's their preferred method of communication...  I almost always get a response if I stick to using their preferred method whether its texting, emails, or via telephone.

Sonya R. Nevins (Star Realty, LLC) Waterbury, CT

Jul 11, 2010 07:11 AM #8
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Ryan,  You're preaching to the choir here.  I'm less put off by the method of communication than by the idiot who just can't be bothered by returnng a call !

Jul 11, 2010 07:14 AM #9
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Ryan, great post and I agree 100%.  Ask and use clients preferred method of communications....

Jul 11, 2010 08:47 AM #10
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Ryan- I could not agree more.  And, I think we should think about txting less and calling or emailing more in our own Personal lives.  Txting is great when all you need is a simple response eg. "Did you receive my email?"  "Want to meet for coffee? "  But these long back and forth txt messages that can go on forever wears out my fingers as well as my patience. Oh, yes, and who among us over 40 doesn't worry that our youth will think that"your" is actually spelled "ur"? 

Jul 11, 2010 08:47 AM #11
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Coral:  Your comment is right on the money.  Texting is fine for saying "hey call me" but I believe that it is inappropriate for business communication.

Jean:  I am of the same opinion.  E-mails create a papertrail.  Documenting conversations is imperative - even after phone conversations.  Otherwise, it boils down to a "he said... she said" credibility contest.

Wallace:  We have texted things like "call me - contract received."  However, the real life exampes provided in the post are just goofy.  If it is business, then I send an email and pick up the phone.

Progressive Realty:  I think it is imperative to identify how a person communicates.  That said, I still don't think texting is appropriate for formal business communication such as dispute resolution or negotation of contracts.

Kathy:  I can't believe that a brokerage wouldn't train their agents on how to handle contracts and/or how and when to use text messages.  I don't think it is an excuse that your spam filter caught it or your inbox was full.  If you invite others to use that e-mail as your preferred method of communication, I don't see how you can complain that it is your "bulk" e-mail address and that you don't regularly check it.

Deborah:  I just can't believe the level of non-communication.  With technology today, it shoud be easier than ever to communicate effectively.  I agree with the follow-up... but it didn't work any better in the cases above.

Renee:  I am a strong proponent of document the file.  I keep noted cards with me and jot down discussions.  At the end of the day, I send a few confirmation e-mails.  It doesn't get easier to create a papertrail than that.

Sonya:  I agree with the point of mimicing communication styles.  I just don't believe that texting is appropriate for substantive business communications.

Bill:  You called it right.  It is as simple as just picking up the phone.

Rebecca:  Thanks.  As to the client, I tend to agree.  I still don't think texting or social media should be used for substantive communications.

Kathy:  We are on the same page.  Texting is fine for "running late... be the in 5 minutes."  After that, my Blackberry does a fine job of calling or e-mailing.

Jul 11, 2010 10:24 AM #12
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

We should remember that everyone doesn't text. And I wholeheartedly agree to respond in kind. I use a text message for short, quick responses or questions regarding lock box codes, etc. And we absolutely must follow up to insure receipt of offers. Excellent post, Ryan.

Jul 11, 2010 04:54 PM #13
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Hey Pat - Congratulations on the new brokerage.  Well, it may not be new - but I have been AWOL from blogging for a bit.  I hope everything is well and that you are having a good 2010.

Jul 11, 2010 05:46 PM #14
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Guilty as charged ;)  I didn't know you'd been AWOL - because I have too these past 6 months! :)

Jul 11, 2010 07:01 PM #15
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Liz - Welcome back.  I went to Peru on vacation and never got back into the swing of blogging until now.

Jul 12, 2010 02:01 AM #16
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Hi Ryan!  I have suggested this for a feature--EVERYONE who does this need to read this post.  I have the same beef (imagine that!) and just don't understand why it's so difficult to pick up the phone.

Another thing that I am constantly keeping up with are emails--I keep that 'paper trail' and so many agents do everything from their iPhone and Blackberry phones--with no record of the messages that they've sent.  One of these days, it's going to bite them in the butt!

Hope you're doing well and staying busy in Lafayette Square!

Jul 12, 2010 02:21 PM #17
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Debe - Those examples are real-life examples.  You would think the phone must weigh 500 lbs.  I know we are all important and can't find the time in a 24 hour day to return a call. Similar to you, I keep a papertrail.  I also keep a log of calls and liberally use confirming e-mails.  If something goes wrong, I expect those items from my agents so I do as I preach. Things are picking up and we are looking forward to good summer/fall selling season.  I love your pictures and posts on new hi-rise condo developments in Charlette - very well done.

Jul 12, 2010 03:28 PM #18
Harry Logan
RE/MAX executives realty - Winnipeg, MB
Your Satisfaction is Guaranteed!

Well said Ryan!  I always appreciate your thoughtful blog posts!

I am suggesting this for a feature because I think it is an important topic for our industry.

Thanks for sharing this!

Jul 25, 2010 06:22 PM #19
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I'm afraid, texting becoming the main way of communication for a younger generation. They simply never talk over the phone.

Sep 12, 2015 04:23 PM #20
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