A Simple Question to Start a Phone Call

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Rulnick Realty, Inc.

The other day, a busy start of a real estate morning, I was trying to leave the house. You know those days when you cannot seem to get out of your pajamas, being caught up in emails, internet updates, and text messages from agents and clients? (Confess, you know what I am talking about). Well, it was one of those mornings.

Propping my phone onto my bathroom counter, getting ready for the day, I kept checking my emails. Lucky to jump in the shower at 10:00 a.m. Out of the shower I came, hair soaking wet, the phone rings. Normally, I would not have answered it at that time. Something possessed me to do so.  It was a mistake.

Believe me, I welcomed the call from a new buyer client referred to me by a local builder.  He was earnest, serious, and quite loquacious. While my hair continued to drip. He explained to me his past real estate projects, construction types, lot requirements, and knowledge of the area. There was no place to pause, and it continued.  I scrambled for a piece of paper and maintained my composure. As the frizz started to form on my head that would further explode from the humid day. No flat iron was going to solve this problem.



Which brings me to a simple piece of advice. When starting any phone conversation, after a brief “How are you?”, the added, “Do you have a moment to talk?” should be asked.  I always begin my  phone calls that way. Variations are, “Are you free?” “Do you have a quick minute?”. When the question is asked, the recipient is “let off the hook”. If they are busy, they will generally say so, with a sense of relief. Then, you can call them back or they can call you back when they are available. If I am asked the question, and I am busy, I explain that I would like to call them back, so I may give them “my full attention”. People appreciate that.

Did I survive the day? Of course. Did my hair look good? Not really.


It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, lists and sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Okaloosa Island, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Freeport, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Parlo italiano.

Posted by

"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Wendy Rulnick, Broker/Owner Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Call Wendy Rulnick 1-850-259-0422

email itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

www.rulnickrealty.com property searches and community info

Wendy Rulnick helps real estate buyers and sellers on the Emerald Coast of Florida.

Rulnick Realty


Comments (26)

Mickey Hayward
Sunset Properties, Hayward Realty - Onley, VA
Farm - Land - Home Sales & Commercial Real Estate

Very well said, Wendy!  Your suggestions to ask, "Are you free? or Do you have a quick minute?," can sure be time savers and maybe even business savers.  It can be frustrating to be in the middle of something and unthinkingly take a call and get tied up in a lengthy phone conversation that really could have waited.  Another trap that I have fallen into is where I have gotten a txt message late into the evening... and I foolishly check it.  The time stamp on the other end shows that I read their txt so they call me.  The last time that happened was at 9:48 PM one evening.  I didn't answer the call though the person knew that I could have since she saw that I read her txt message.  I called her the next day and told her that I don't take calls after 6 PM.  She laughed and said, "Oh, sorry, I was looking at some farm listings online and wanted to ask you questions about them."  I just said, "Ok, if you have some time to talk now, I can answer your questions."  

Aug 13, 2021 06:26 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Mickey Hayward Right you are about late text messages, or very early ones. They think if you've read the message, or gd forbid you even gave a short text back, that the gates are open and you get slammed with complex messages and even the phone call!! Good story to add to the conversation, thank you!

Aug 13, 2021 06:39 AM
Mickey Hayward


Aug 15, 2021 08:38 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks, Wendy, for sharing your personal experience.

Many of us have answered the phone during other activties. So, your story has added smiles to our faces.

Keep cool, stay safe and have a great day.

Aug 13, 2021 07:25 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Roy Kelley Glad I got you to smile!!

Aug 13, 2021 07:26 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Wendy! Yeah, I have had those calls before - especially with folks that take 168 words to answer a yes or no question (if you are able to squeeze a question in).

Aug 13, 2021 08:17 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Rocky Dickerson And I avoided one of those calls this morning! Learning...

Aug 13, 2021 08:18 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Wendy- Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400 is good about asking what she's interrupting when she calls!!! And I agree, it's nice to ask if the person you're calling is free to talk.   Sharon Tara text each other to see if we're free to talk before we call. 

Aug 14, 2021 02:51 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Kathy Streib Sound advice, and I've got it from the top. Margaret Rome herself!!

Aug 14, 2021 06:08 PM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Wendy Rulnick,  Just left you a message. Had you answered, I would have said, "what am I interrupting?"

Aug 14, 2021 04:37 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400 Your amazing phone call has MADE MY WEEKEND!! Wow!! No words! 

Aug 14, 2021 06:09 PM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Aug 14, 2021 06:02 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Kathy Streib Thank you for the sweet notice of feature! I am delighted!

Aug 14, 2021 06:09 PM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

So glad to see this featured by Kathy Streib 

Wendy Rulnick What a delightful conversation. Thanks for the return call. Good to know that hubby is also from Maryland! Maybe we will see you on the Tuesday Zoom call.

Aug 14, 2021 06:12 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400  I immensely enjoyed our talk. I will see you on a Zoom call. :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Aug 14, 2021 06:14 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh, such sage advice that we should ALL take seriously, Wendy! I have found myself in that same position and wish I had just a few minutes to compose myself!


We are so accustomed to having quick answers for everyone, we think that's what we're getting when we pick up the phone! 

Aug 14, 2021 10:16 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS

And, of course, you know I love your kitty photos!! 😻

Aug 14, 2021 10:17 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Debe Maxwell, CRS I think you're on to something with that observation!

Aug 15, 2021 07:44 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Wendy -  I have certainly learned to ask, Is this a good time to talk.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up and I would hate catch someone at the wrong moment.

Aug 15, 2021 04:28 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Grant Schneider That's a way to put it, and self-observant!

Aug 15, 2021 07:44 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Wendy. Sometimes it is best to dry your hair first and then converse. Well put! Enjoy your day.

Aug 15, 2021 05:28 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Wayne Martin  Tee hee .... lesson learned!!

Aug 15, 2021 07:45 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Oh yes, asking whether someone is available is a "Must" when calling someone out of the blue!

Aug 15, 2021 06:13 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Kat Palmiotti It sure is! Sometimes, we forget!

Aug 15, 2021 07:45 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Congrats on being highlighted by Kathy this week!  Well done!

Aug 15, 2021 07:27 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Thank you!

Aug 15, 2021 07:46 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Wendy Rulnick ,

I'm so glad Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week. Excellent post with a great message. Always ask if it's a good time to talk, it makes for a more focused conversation!

Aug 15, 2021 11:27 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Dorie Dillard Austin TX  That is, true, too!

Aug 15, 2021 11:30 AM
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I'm with you on the frizzy hair!

And I do love when someone asks that question. How many times do we call someone and they sound, well, rushed and flustered. Probably too nice to say "can I call you back."

Aug 15, 2021 04:22 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Margaret Goss  you have kind observations of phone call interactions !

Aug 15, 2021 05:38 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

This post is so relatable! I had a call the other morning while trying to get dressed. It was from a recruiter's assistant. She went on and on about how her company would love to talk to me and was I available tomorrow afternoon for a meeting. Same as you, I'm trying to put on a little bit of lipstick and get out the door to meet my next client. So I tell her I'm happy where I am, and that I'm so busy, I barely have time to eat lunch. Breakfast is out of the question. I hope I made my point. And she never slowed down to ask how I was.

Aug 15, 2021 04:56 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty and how simple training would improve their sales chances. Just being polite

Aug 15, 2021 05:39 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Wendy:

This is good advice and a courteous way to start a conversation, or not, depending on the timing. I always try to ask "do you have a few minutes to talk" and appreciate when I am likewise asked by the caller.


Aug 15, 2021 05:12 PM
Wendy Rulnick

Jeff Dowler, CRS  I am also pleasantly happy if a caller is so polite.

Aug 15, 2021 05:40 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Wendy Rulnick - Your post was right on target.  It happens.  I always ask the person on the other end of the phone, "Is this is a good time to talk?".  Occasionally, when I am doing more than one thing I might forget to open the call that way but I interrupt myself speaking and apologize and then ask the question. 

The only person I don't say this to is a call to my husband.  LOL!

Aug 16, 2021 08:07 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Sheri Sperry - MCNE® I get the forgetting, then asking after we start talking. I do that sometimes, too. And of course, NEVER do I ask with my husband!

Aug 16, 2021 08:41 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

This is very practical advice to ask if they have a minute before you take their minutes away from them

Aug 16, 2021 08:45 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Laura Cerrano Good way to remember it!

Aug 16, 2021 08:47 AM
Karen Climer
Demetree School of Real Estate - Orlando, FL
Teaching people to pass the real estate exam

Great advice.  If I know what the conversation is going to be about sometimes I will add, "Do you have time to chat?  This will take about five minutes..."  (or ten or whatever I think it will take.) But then again, sometimes I don't know how long it will take.

Aug 16, 2021 11:43 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Karen Climer Hi! Yeah, good addition!  If I know it's a minute, I say a "quick minute".  If I think it's two, I say so.  Other than that, I don't specify.  (Because who wants a ten minute conversation? - That's just me!)

Aug 16, 2021 12:54 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Wendy Rulnick - Common courtesy goes a long way in building relationships. You did a great job on this blog post. I make a habit of introducing myself and asking, is this a good time for you, or would you prefer another time?

Wendy, you're a very thoughtful writer. It would be wonderful to work with you. 

Aug 17, 2021 02:48 AM
Wendy Rulnick

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP You are most gracious, and I have a big smile now.  Thank you, Patricia!

Aug 17, 2021 06:22 AM