How Much and How Are You Communicating with Clients During Your Transaction?

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

How Much and How Are You Communicating with Clients During Your Transaction?

 

I have often wondered how much communication goes on in different transactions…between agents, with lenders, and with our clients.

 

Not just face to face communication, which these days seems to be far more infrequent especially with some clients and vendors, but via email, phone calls and text messaging. I suspect it varies quite a bit in terms of volume, the nature of the transaction, and the people involved.

 

Communication via email is easy and provides a paper trail, but it's not in person

 

I just finished another transaction, and as I always do was saving all the emails in a pdf for storage on a CD and my external hard-drive, along with all the documents that were shared and signed. Pretty amazing how much information is part of the typical real estate deal!

 

In this case, there were 631 emails (and this was a fairly straight-forward, non-problematic deal with out of area buyers), not including over 200 text messages with the 2 buyers alone. And this doesn’t count multiple phone calls to the lender, the other agent, the office manager, the escrow officer, and both buyers jointly and independently.

 

Text messaging is becoming more and more commonOn the one hand that may seem like a lot of back and forth emailing, calling and text messaging. But some emails, of course, are due to “reply all” responses and being cc’d.

 

Education, requests for information, verifying, asking questions, keeping others informed, and sharing required documents are just some of the necessary components of back and forth communication during a transaction. So it’s reasonable to expect a fair volume of communicating.

 

On the other hand, if we are not communicating regularly, and often, with clients, and documenting conversations and issues, we will likely have problems – the relationship suffers, dates are missed, problems do not get addressed, questions do not get answers, and important information is not shared in a timely manner, which can derail the transaction pretty easily.

 

Having a written record of communication is useful for a number of reasons, the least of which is knowing what was said to whom, when, and about what. No one can possibly keep track of all the information-sharing and questions in a transaction without something in writing. A paper-trail IS essential to verify what was done, when and by whom.

 

And heaven forbid you should get into some sort of litigation or complaint and need a copy of the records to document what transpired. And don’t have them. There is something very powerful about the written record in a we said/they said situation.

 

So how are you communicating these days and what works best?

 

Have you found the volume, given the market, has shifted?

 

Is there MORE communication now because of email?

 

And do you find it more challenging to work with those who do not use email AT ALL (I have had 2 in recent months).

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Rainmaker
1,166,184
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

There is definitely more communication given the ease of it, and the temptation to keep way more than we may need to, just in case.  I think that file of yours could be pared down a little :)

Jul 17, 2012 05:44 AM #17
Rainmaker
83,405
Amy Steele Realtor SRS CNE NHS MRP
JP and Associates - North Richland Hills, TX
Live,Work,Play...in North Texas

How are you sending everything to be a pdf? Some tech that I'm not aware of yet? Appreciate it, since i usually send everything from gmail to outlook and then save that way, but it's a PAIN and I'm 2 years behind...

Jul 17, 2012 05:54 AM #18
Rainer
208,517
Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret
United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com - Prince William, VA
Associate Broker in Northern Virginia

I don't know how a transaction can be successful without constant communication.  I have a client right now that swears by txting, however, we do see each other quite frequently.

Jul 17, 2012 06:23 AM #19
Rainer
344,646
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

The more communication the better.  And always keep excellent records of your communications. 

Jul 17, 2012 06:49 AM #20
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Anna Banana Kruchten - Phoenix Homes Sales
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
603-380-4886

Jeff it does feel outrageous some days!  We hold on to all the communication and it could easily be hundreds of emails per file - and that's not including short sales which is at least triple the info.  How did we get to this place? Keeping on top of it the best we can is the plan.

Jul 17, 2012 07:45 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,542,765
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Jeff, you're counting the emails!  Stop it.

Jul 17, 2012 10:14 AM #22
Rainmaker
1,333,948
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL
REALTOR

Jeff - A majority of my communication is done via e-mail and there seem to be at least 1,000 e-mails per file by the time it closes, but I also communication by phone and text messages, which I document in a log.

Jul 17, 2012 12:30 PM #23
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Richie - well it helps. And people then know if there are issues or not.

Elizabeth - sounds to me that you have it all covered. I have made it a practice to NOT delete ANY emails regarding a transaction, even if it is not something I need to respond to.

Sajy - your are so right. There is SO much that goes on and it IS hard to keep a record of it all. I think, in some ways, email encrouages us to share more information and do more confirming.

Melissa - believe me, I did NOT count these. When I covert my Outlook emails to a pdf it tells me how many records there are, and I can also see the number of texts on my phone.  No way do I have that kind of time, nor am I that obsessive.

Sharon - smart moves, and something we should all be doing if we aren't already.

Jeff

Jul 17, 2012 01:03 PM #24
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George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff I set up a folder in Outlook for every loan that I do, and move all e-mails with the borrower and documentation to that folder.  It is amazing how much is in each folder for every loan, and I am probably more on the phone with each Borrower than I e-mail.

Jul 17, 2012 01:12 PM #25
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Jeff, my preferred way is email. Then I have a written record. But I find that younger clients prefer text messaging and older clients prefer phone calls. I usually follow-up the call or text with an email recounting our conversation just so I have some type of record. That has a time and date stamp. 

Jul 17, 2012 01:14 PM #26
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Jim - that's a very good question for all of us to consider, and it certainly varies quite a bit. On the transaction noted in this email I calculated an hourly rate of about $270/hr

Lisa - texting has definitely become much more prevalent and desired by many. I also have an unlimited plan and probably do easily 1000 TMs per month, or more

Liz - oh my yes. Thanks goodness we have the technology we have and that it is not ALL paper. Getting better on that but still not COMPLETELY paperless.

Kevin - our access to clients, and them to us, is truly amazing in today's technology, and many expect that level of contact.

Jeff

Jul 17, 2012 01:25 PM #27
Rainmaker
1,317,551
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Jeff -  I think that communication is key.  Even if I don't have an answer, I let the client know what I am doing to try to get an answer.  I try to respond as soon as possible and let clients know if I am unavialable for several hours.. e.g , at a home inspection, office meeting, client meeting etc.

Jul 17, 2012 01:25 PM #28
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Jeff - I have lots and lots of communication.  Do you have some way to download the text messages?

Jul 17, 2012 04:50 PM #29
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William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional
Hi Jeff, I think I am just as anal as you and i usually have between 2 and 4 inches think of printed communications in my cleint files. I take communications serious and record it should it ever be needed and I am most thankful thus far that is has not been needed.
Jul 17, 2012 04:55 PM #30
Rainmaker
4,432,217
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I always wonder what we did before we had email accounts.

Jul 17, 2012 09:27 PM #31
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Evelyn - my clients get a CD with all the documents, too. Outlook makes it easy to convert emails to a pdf.

Bill - actually I suspect I have had other transactions with more emails. I have always saved them but never paid attention to the number...and NO, I did not count them, the pdf process says how many records there are. But you are right, our process, with all the disclosures, etc can result in a ton or paperwork. I doubt we are alone.

Ginny - it sures keeps us busy, doesn't it?

Bryan - and some people really WANT more phone calls and NOT email, don't they

Jane - actually the paper part is pretty small, but there is a ton on-line, but it's easy to store. And we now upload all our docs for the broker file so they don't have paper files either.

Amy - maybe you can do this on other email system, but in Outlook it's easy to select all the emails from a transaction file, highlight them all, and then convert to pdf (unless you don't have adobe).

Jeff

Jul 18, 2012 12:10 AM #32
Rainer
134,121
Laura Murray
Weichert - Silver Spring, MD
Search Montgomery Co., MD for homes www.MDRealEstateOnline.com

Thanks Jeff, not only communicationg with clients but also communicating with the agent on the other side of transaction is important too.

Jul 18, 2012 06:39 AM #33
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Cheryl - I have had several clients that text all the time. Others like email, others prefer the phone (but that seems to be becoming more unusual)

Charlie - both are essential

Anna - communication used to be so simple!!

Lyn - ha ha. No I didn't actually. The pdf conversion tells you the number of records. I am not nearly that obsessive, and I usually don't pay attention, except I had a post in mind at the time.

Jeff

Jul 18, 2012 11:08 AM #34
Rainmaker
316,101
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Jeff, with that many emails, do you convert them to PDF as they come in? Because waiting unil the end of the transaction, it would be too time consuming to do them then. What is the process you use? A far as I can see, they must be done one at a time and not in batches. Thanks for your help.

Jul 18, 2012 12:03 PM #35
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Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

Great post and comments.  I am now using Cartavi for the iPad and I back that up to the pc.  I am checking out the save the text messages and will part here to see if there is something else that I can use to keep up with it all.  Oh and I then use dropbox for storage or adobe.  Gotta keep up with the records.

Aug 19, 2012 11:12 PM #36
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