To Answer the Phone Or NOT to Answer the Phone: That is the Question

Real Estate Agent with Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ BR564219000

To Answer the Phone Or NOT to Answer the phone:  That is the Question

This topic is an interesting one that reflects upon several viewpoints:

  • The would-be buyer, driving around a neighborhood and seeing a FOR SALE sign
  • The buyer-client, who found a home online/driving around and wants to alert their agent
  • The seller, who may have questions or concerns for their agent to answer

As you may know, a major complaint against real estate agents is that they don't answer their phone.  I have to admit, until recently I've held that if I'm with a client...that client should have 100% of my attention.

HOWEVER, I went to a class this fall, led by one of the very top, top agents at Long Realty...who said if it's humanly possible, he always answers his phone.

To Answer the Phone or NOT to Answer the Phone

Paraphrased, here's what he tells his clients and prospects up front:

If I have your home listed, don't you want me to answer every case it's a buyer or agent interested in your property?  And likewise, if I am helping you to find a home for purchase, do you not want me available for your important calls?  He goes on to explain that he may be taking a few phone calls during your time together, but this is the same service he promises to you as his client. He promises to answer his phone to his up-and-coming clients, just as he SHOWS by doing if his phone happens to ring during his appointment.  He is available.

Here's what he does when his phone rings:  He excuses himself, takes the call, and if it's something lengthy or that can be dealt with later, explains he's with a client and will call them right back after he's finished.  If it's a question on a listing, or a buyer-related question he can answer quickly, he does so then and there.

Think of the time saved by not having to return phone calls.  Think how the sellers' viewpoint changes when the phone rings...because they know he will answer their calls as well.

So now I've been seriously re-thinking my phone calls.  Unless I'm in a class-for-credit, I'm checking the caller ID and probably picking up.  I just explain beforehand to my's amazing how understanding they are as soon as it's pointed out that you'll be doing the same for then.

Do you answer your phone?  Or, do you let it go to voice mail. I'd be interested in other perspectives.


Posted by

If I can assist you in your home buying or selling in Marana, Tucson, Oro Valley, or Vail, please don't hesitate to call me!  Email at

Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Long Realty,


Regarding the material posted in my blog postings, these are my personal opinions and not those of Long Realty Company. 

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  1. Sara Homan 12/28/2013 06:32 PM
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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

When you have answer. The Universe doesnt understand anything other than YES or NO to your well being and success...Choose one and be content in it

Dec 28, 2013 09:54 PM #44
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

Hi Praful!  It is something to think about, coming from perhaps the top .5% of all agents in Tucson.  It does work for him.  I've done transactions with him, and he did always answer the phone. (He did, not an assistant) He got back to me at times, but he answered to tell me so! I was impressed.

Margaret - Enjoyed our phone call, once we got a good signal!  I'm glad I answered my phone!

Tom - that's probably a whole other blog posts - staff, or you...that answers your phone.

Brenda - It IS a debate, and a decision every time the phone rings...or vibrates, as I DO keep it on silent during meetings, classes, client time, etc.
I have to say that since learning another perspective, I do weigh each call more carefully as it comes in. 

John - Exactly.  Not EVERY call, but each call bears a decision.  Currently, I have a listing that folks cannot see without calling me first.  If I miss their call, and they are in the neighborhood...well then, I miss that buyer.  I tend to pick up numbers I don't know.  If it's going to be lengthy, I tell them I'm with a client and will call right back.  And yes, EVERY time I'm meeting with someone, I tell them I have a listing where I must answer the unknown phone call.  So far, it's not interupted. 

Ed - I appreciate your opinion! Folks use justification all day long to make the decisions they do.

Andrew - I missed two phone calls last week, because I was five minutes away from my phone in the middle of the day.  One I called back and they answered.  The other, said they'd have their wife who called me, return my call, as she'd stepped out.  She didn't.  I'll never know what she wanted now.

Joan - Sounds like you have a balanced plan!

Dec 28, 2013 09:55 PM #45
Raul Rodriguez
Covenant Partners Realty - San Antonio, TX
Looking out for the client's interest and not my p

Being up from while you are with a client is always a good thing, and I'd say none of mine have ever complained about a call. That being said, the call is always brief.

Dec 28, 2013 10:03 PM #46
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Cara, I don't know. I think it is important to your client to give them 100% of your time. What can be so important that a person cannot wait for you to return a call. The point being you should return the call as soon as possible.

Dec 28, 2013 10:06 PM #47
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

If I'm with a client, NO.  I don't answer the phone.  To me, that's a sign of disrespect to the client I'm with.  

Dec 28, 2013 10:12 PM #48
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

Hi Patricia!  HA! Thanks for sharing YOUR opinion!!  :)

Geoff - That's pretty much the way I am feeling.  I can't say I would ALWAYS answer, and I know I can't say I would NEVER answer.

Evelyn - I try to keep my phone on vibrate, but clients can hear that as well.  I dislike answering it when I am with a prospect for the first time.  I am currently in a situation where I MUST answer an unknown phone call, however, so I am quick to explain when we first meet.  Everyone has been very understanding.

Corinne - I like that phrasing...a double rude.

Jill - Happy New Year - thanks for responding.

Maureen - Great, balanced answer.  Doctors...YES.  :)

Rod - It is interesting how technology and the "right now" mentality has changed our lives.  I look around a restaurant now and at least 50% have their phone right in front of them, or in their hands!

Grant - Ah, the virtual assistant - I've read a few blog postings on that subject as well!

Rob - I bet your clients feel well taken care of, unless they are the ones calling with something urgent.  It's a catch 22 some times.  I think most clients are understanding...prospects...not at all.

Beverly - Good manners prevails, but I'm thinking there are still exceptions.  I must admit I'm still not up to believing I should take every call.  But I do tend to glance at the caller ID more than ever.

Kevin - the listing appointment was exactly the scenario our top producer was talking about.  Fascinating, huh.

Rosie - I often miss a phone call while grocery shopping.  Must be the florescent lights or something...

Cheryl - I've found being always available is detrimental to my own mental well being.  I used to answer my phone after 9, and before 7.  Now, there's no way I'm training my clients that I'm going to do so.  I MIGHT, but then again, I might not.  It depends on the situation or point in transaction.

Suzanne - Thanks so much for sharing your perception.  Now I'm going to be singing that song all day...

Jason - I get the idea that the majority of Rainers say, "It depends"!

Dec 28, 2013 10:25 PM #49
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Cara, it's a tough call, but I tend to answer. I always explain to my clients that what I have going on at the time, and I've never had one complain. They know I'm in business, and my business lives or dies by my phone. Happy New Year!

Dec 28, 2013 11:09 PM #50
Kristi Roberts
Kristi Roberts Group/Premier Estates & Homes, Inc. - Temecula, CA
This one has me torn. I generally dont answer my phone unless I have a transaction, buyer or listing that requires immediate or urgent help. I feel like the client I am with deserves my attention. I do ask people to text me if they require immediate attention and almost always, unless I am in a listing appointment, I can respond right away without taking away from my current client. I do not ever answer a text or phone call while I am at a listing appointment. I was at an appointment with an attorney several months ago and he kept answering his phone and then he would,say, "where were we?" After the third time, I felt like I did not have his attention and I chose not to do business with him.
Dec 29, 2013 12:11 AM #51
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

If I am expecting a call about an offer, I will let you client know ahead of time that I may need to take a call. But I think that they're are situations where the phone is put away, such as a buyer consultation or listing presentation, or a closing. It is not appropriate to not give complete focus and attention. I think it depends on the client  and their expectations too. There are sellers that felt like they could never reach their previous agent. So extra consideration may need to be made. So I guess it depends. 

Dec 29, 2013 12:24 AM #52
Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986.
eXp Realty, Victoria BC - Victoria, BC
Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490

Hi Cara,

Pretty much answer all the time unless I am shut down for the night (after 10 )

Have a Great Week and a Pfanntastic 2014

Dec 29, 2013 12:42 AM #53
AJ Heidmann ~ CRS
McEnearney Associates, Inc. - Alexandria, VA
YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert

Cara - It depends...  All of my clients are programmed into my cell phone so I immediately know it is them, if I am showing property I always answer in case it is owner/agent to cancel or confirm a showing.  If I am meeting one on one with a client at the office or home (it is already on vibrate) and goes to voice mail unless I have an active listing on the market. 

Probably a bit convoluted, but it works for me.  I have never been a fan of the agent message that says "I return all calls between 11-12pm and 3-5pm", it just doesn't leave the right taste in the mouth.

Dec 29, 2013 02:05 AM #54
Andrea Peters
The Andrea Peters Group @ HōM Realty - College Station, TX
SOLD with Andrea!

This is a tough subject, as all clients are different. I have some clients who would be horribly offended if I took a call while I was with them (even with the explanation) and others who wouldn't mind. A few months ago I added verbiage to my voicemail for people to send me a text message if they need a faster response. When possible, I will also text the caller and let them know I'm in a meeting but ask if there's anything I can do to assist them. Sometimes they'll tell me to call them when I'm available, but most of the time they'll just text me whatever their question is. Doesn't always work out, but it does more often than not.

Dec 29, 2013 04:33 AM #55
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Cara, I think there is a lot of merit to this argument but what happens when you have that client that calls all the time? Now they expect you to always be available.

Dec 29, 2013 06:51 AM #56
Aaron Hofmann
Atlanta Communities - Smyrna, GA
aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings

I've always been a believer that I will not answer the phone when I'm with a client unless I know that it's a mission critical call.

Dec 29, 2013 06:06 PM #57
Jill Saddler
Draper, UT
Draper Utah Real Estate Professional - 25 years+!

I think that's a great idea - it shows your potential purchasers that you will be available anytime and will treat them with the same attention.

Dec 30, 2013 12:37 AM #58
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

Jeff - I haven't had to - but I've prefaced my appointments with a similar statement to the top agent, and no one has seemed slighted.  AND...I got the listing.

Bruce - Exactly.  We've got to love caller ID!

Ralph -- I'd really not thought about taking calls before -- I was sure it was very rude.  But it makes sense, and I thought I'd share the perspective, and I HAVE been taking more calls.

Sara - It is interesting to see how many do and don't answer their phones when with clients.  I really think a person should stick with their convictions!

Tom - As I mentioned before...virtual assistants can easily be a whole new blog post.  Some use them, some never wood!  I agree 100% with your statement about expectation management.  I don't think you can fail with most any standard of practice if you tell folks how you work in advance.

Gita - Yes, I imagine with multiple calls, it could escalate into awful quite quickly.

Andre - Managing expectations seems to be the best medicine all around!

Janis - Thanks so much for sharing your process.  I think most situations call for discernment.  ALWAYS or NEVER doesn't work for all.

Kat - I've been enjoying your blog posts.  :)

Ann - Changing your voice mail is an excellent habit and takes only a few moments. Thank you for sharing your great idea.

Cheryl - We play a balancing act.  Keeping the clients happy, servicing the prospects expectations, and holding to our own standards of practice. 

Brian - Everyone needs to find what works for them.  I thought it was important to share a viewpoint I hadn't considered until our top Tucson agent shared it with me.  :)

Nina - hard to tell the now generation that they don't get immediate gratification, isn't it.

Richie - Was hoping you'd stop by.  I like that...choose one and be content in it...

Dec 30, 2013 07:11 AM #59
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Cara - I am struggling with this question too. I like to be the realtor who answers her phone, but these days it is more than likely someone trying to sell me the latest, greatest program for making me #1 in the search engines or something else that I will buy if I need it, but don't want to be SOLD.

And if I'm with a client, that is more difficult because there is no way to get rid of some of those callers other than to be rude. And of course I don't want my clients to hear me doing that.

Dec 31, 2013 03:34 AM #60
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Fine Properties - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Good points, Cara.  I, too, have been re-thinking this.  I'm still on the fence, but your agent makes a great point. Usually, I will tell my buyers that I will be returning calls every hour and will need to break at that point.  I feel that a return call within an hour is acceptable.  Now, if I'm in the middle of negotiations or with a contract pending, I'll tell my clients up front I'm expecting one or two calls.  Otherwise, I think their time is valuable and I shouldn't be spending it with others.  If you go to a retail store, the clerk waits on YOU and others expect to wait.  So, I'm going to have to think this one over. Good topic, though and I'm suggesting for a feature to get other feedback. 

Dec 31, 2013 10:49 AM #61
Cathy Wolters
Wolters Realty & Property Management Company - Cocoa, FL
Your Brevard County Property Management Expert

That's a really good point. I never really though of it that way.  I am curious to see if he said anything about answering while driving.  I try not to do this for safety reasons, although it is not illegal in my state and I have Bluetooth in the car, but it can still be a distraction.  I also try to avoid it, in case it is someone that I might have to make a note of something. I feel very unorginized saying I can't write something down, or that I don't know an answer and have to look it up, but can't at that moment because I am driving.  Then there's the couple of times, I forget they called once I got distracted at my appointment that I was on my way to. 

Also as a property manager, if i am doing an exit or a move in inspection, I do not answer. It is distracting and I might make a mistake.  I do get a lot of comments from people about how surprised they are that I do answer my phone, since most agents don't. Or even that I called them back in a timely manor. 

This is a great discussion. I am glad I found it. 

Jan 09, 2014 07:04 AM #62
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

I have set hours for work pretty much a 12 hour day 7 days a week, and if it is not an emergency then let it go to voice mail on calls after those hours.

Feb 04, 2014 11:37 PM #63
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Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY
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