Top 8 Things to Remember When Leaving a Phone Message for Listing Agents

Real Estate Agent with United Realty Group, Inc. BK641413
  1. Speak clearly.  I placed this in the #1 position because it has caused me the most frustration.  This is especially important if you have an accent (thick or not).  I regularly have to listen to voicemail messages 3+ times because I can't understand some of what the agent is saying.  I've written down wrong phone numbers because the agent did not speak clearly.  I can't call you back if I can't hear your phone number correctly.
  2. Speak slowly -- I don't take shorthand!  I also don't like to have to replay the same message 2+ times in order to write down all the information.  This gets the #2 spot because it's amazing to me how often agents speak a mile a minute as if they are in some sort of race for time.  Yes, I know there a a few agents who have voice-mail that only allows you 30 seconds to leave a message and to those agents I say "invest a little money and time and find a professional voicemail provider that doesn't limit people to a lousy 30 seconds".
  3. Leave your name -- not just your first name, but your FULL name!  I don't care if your last name sounds funny or has 5 syllables, I still like to write it down in my notes.  If it's not a common name or easily understood, by all means, please spell it for me -- I'm going to ask you one way or another.
  4. Repeat your phone number twice, please!  This is a habit I got into years ago -- when leaving messages I always repeat my phone number twice as it is probably the most crucial part of the message and you want to make sure that the person wrote it down correctly.
  5. State which listing you're interested in showing.  Provide me with a street address and city instead of the MLS# because I may not remember offhand which listing has which MLS#. 
  6. Say what day and time you'd like to show the property.  Since some listings require an appointment, knowing ahead of time what day and time you'd like to show the property can cut down the number of phone calls required.  Unless the property is vacant, as a courtesy to me and/or my sellers, please limit the time range during which you'd like to show a listing to no more than 30-60 minutes.  Side Note:  Florida agents -- be prepared to provide your real estate license number.
  7. Include your company name.  Even if you're a broker and work for yourself, please be courteous and include the name of your company.
  8. Give proper notice.  Unless the property is vacant, on electronic lockbox and the showing instructions state that no appointment is necessary -- please be courteous and provide me and/or my sellers with reasonable notice that you'd like to show it.  Remember, if I'm working with customers/clients at the time that you leave your message, I may not be able to return your call immediately.  There are very few acceptable reasons why any agent should have to schedule showings at the last minute.

If anyone would like to add to this list, I'd love to read your suggestions!

Comments (15)

Eileen Landau


Although I can s-l-o-w down my VM...and I generally do in order to get the phone number.

And, you're right. It's a contest to see how fast they can rattle off their name and number.

And, actually these rules should apply to any message. And, I like the idea of saying the phone number twice.

I usually slow down and say my number as though I were speaking to a 3 year old. Who knows? Maybe I am.

Aug 28, 2006 04:45 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Good advice Leanne. When I schedule appointments after hours or have to leave a message for a the listing agent, I try to leave the message in the order that many of the local offices take it in. I say my name and phone number first, then I identify the property by address. Then I say my office name and location and the main phone number at the office (main phone number is the easiest way for many of the front desks to pull up agent's info.) Then I again say my name, spelling both names (or I get calls for Lori, Laurie, Maury... I must not speak clearly) and again my phone number for confirmation.    I sometimes write it all out as I am saying it because I do tend to speak fast.  I still can write it faster than they would be able to because I know it.. but it helps slow me down.  Thanks for the reminders. 


Aug 28, 2006 05:03 AM
Christopher Smith
TREGO REALTY - Cedar Rapids, IA
Leanne, I especially like number 4 to repeat, repeat, repeat.  Sometimes you don't have access to a pen and paper the first time, and so you are scurrying around trying to find these utensils (whether in the car or office) and it can get a bit frustrating.
Aug 28, 2006 05:21 AM
Christopher H
REAL ESTATE - Shelby Township, MI

LOL... I just got a message 20 minutes ago and I could understand 3 numbers when she left her phone number.

Aug 28, 2006 06:06 AM
Ann Cummings
RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent

Oh Leanne, from your lips to God's ears!!  I developed a habit many years ago when leaving messages to say my name & where I'm from, the time & date/day of my call and then to go into what I was calling about.  Then I repeat my name & contact info, repeat the showing, etc. I'm requesting, and then I say that I'll look forward to hearing back from them.  I wish this could be taught in orientation or something like that!

I tend to multi-task alot, probably too much so at times.  When I dial a number and am waiting for someone to answer on the other end, I tend to work on my computer or do whatever else I was already doing.  Frequently, if it takes a bit for the call to be answered on the other end, I've forgotten who I called by the time they do answer.  And I've had people answer on the other end and speak so quickly that I can't tell what they've said.  And then I have to ask them to repeat it.  Perhaps part of that is my fault because I was doing other things at the same time, but it sure would be nice if folks would speak clearly and slowly when answering phones as well as leaving messages.

Great post!!

Aug 28, 2006 06:11 AM
Lynne Mercer
Alain Pinel Realtors - Palo Alto, CA
Making Dreams Come True!

Thanks for the reminder and the tip Leanne. You can't believe how many times I have been unable to follow through on a phone call because I could not get the number even after playing the message back multiple times (never mind the name!!). Sometimes it is only one number that is blurred so I just call all the most likely combinations until I hit it, but this really is frustrating. The problem is especially acute if the person is calling from  cell phone, as the quality is frequently inferior to a land line connection, or it may cut out at a critical moment.

Aug 28, 2006 06:26 AM
Bonnie Erickson
Tangletown Realty - Saint Paul, MN

Thank you, thank you, Ann, for admitting to multi-tasking and forgetting who and why you called!  I have the same problem.  I've gotten in the habit of writing down the person I called so I can avoid sounding stupid when they answer.  The messages I love are the people who sound like they are talking with their mouths full of marbles.  My own daughter started doing this when she moved out and started hanging out with a new crowd.  She wasn't too happy when I told her she was talking trash!  She knows proper English but will never get a job that amounts to anything if she continues the slang she's trying on currently.

Fig I understand better than Lychee.  I really have to Google it!

Aug 28, 2006 11:44 AM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

Eileen:  My voicemail service allows me to slow down the message speed, too, but even with that feature I still sometimes have to replay the message.  

Maureen and Christopher:  I tend to repeat the more important parts of my message a second time in case they didn't catch it the first time or needed time to find a pen.  

Ann:  Thanks for the reminder -- I also try to remember to include the time that I'm leaving the message so they'll have a reference in case they don't listen to the envelope information.  I also sometimes make a point of letting the agent know that I look forward to hearing from them (especially if I've already left a message and they still haven't returned my call after a reasonable time period).  I'll have to add that to the list as an aside.  

Ann and Bonnie:  LOL... the multi-tasking affects me the same way every so often.  

Lynne:  I'm happy to find out I'm not the only one who has sometimes only understood all but one number and tried dialing 1 thru 9 until I get the right person!  :-)

Aug 28, 2006 02:21 PM
Kristal Kraft
Novella Real Estate - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

I acquired the habit of always repeating my telephone number.  Knowing how I would like to hear the number repeated, so I can catch it without having to digital number pushing on the phone. 

It really seems like the courteous thing to do...

Aug 28, 2006 03:16 PM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

I should add another item to this list... one I should have to, but it's happened more than once (in fact, it just happened a couple of days ago again).  What item would that be?  To please check the MLS to be sure the property is still available before calling the listing agent! 

I had a rental listing that I put as "Temporarily Off the Market" ("T") in the MLS two weeks ago and an agent called asking to show it.  When I called her back she claimed it did show up as active/available when she'd checked earlier that day.  I checked the MLS after hanging up with her and it was still showing as "T".  I think sometimes people print out listings and don't bother to check the MLS to see if it's still available when they're ready to show it / their customer comes into town.

Sep 18, 2006 08:56 AM
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL

I received a call yesterday and the message said, "HI, I am .......with ................and want to see your listing in Miami Shores".  They didn not leave their phone number, when they wanted to see it, which listing in Miami Shores and their name was muffled.  Thank God for caller ID.


Nov 07, 2006 11:06 AM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
LOL... I can't say I'm surprised.  I've received quite a few of those types over the years.  At least once or twice they've called a second time soon after to say "oops, I forgot to leave my phone number..."  Cell phones don't help matters as the connection isn't always crystal clear to begin with - all the more reason to repeat your phone number as clearly as possible and s-l-o-w-l-y please!
Nov 07, 2006 11:33 AM
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

I don't recall an agent not leaving a phone number, but I do know some are very conversational and after about three minutes (as I sit with pen poised) they get to their phone number and say it very fast so I miss numbers; then you have to listen to the entire freakin message again to get to the fast numbers and hope you get them all the second time around.

This semi comical thing also happened. A lady called on my office voice mail (so no caller ID). She kept asking me to call her because she liked one of my listings and wanted more info; never left her telephone number; each call got a bit more irritated, 'why have you not called me back.' I even alerted our receptionisht to flag any women calling in and asking if they had called before, but as it turned out, she must have been calling after hours. 

Dec 12, 2006 07:36 PM
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
Carole - after the 2nd time she left such a message, I think I would've changed my outgoing voicemail message to somehow let the caller know how important it is that they not only leave their phone number but to speak it slowly, clearly and/or repeat it a second time.  Sounds silly, I know... that we should have to speak to them like children... but sometimes you've got to do things like that in an attempt to get the result you want.  The lady may have thought you had caller ID... who knows?
Dec 13, 2006 09:20 AM
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
yes I thought about the caller id thing; but did not think to change my message; good for future callers like this! lol 
Dec 13, 2006 10:08 AM