How NOT to Sell Real Estate: My Rant of the Day

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Brace yourself. I'm on a rant...

I'm currently spending a bit of time at the beach in Ft. Pierce, Florida. It's lovely. I'm here with my mother, my grandmother and two of her sisters.

This is what I went out to see this morning before beginning my work for the day:

Sunrise on the Treasure Coast - Ft Pierce, FL

(I love my mobile career!) Jealous, aren'tcha?

We are staying in a family member's condo for the week, but being me, I had to take a peek at the real estate market while I'm down here. And I found a cute little cottage that seemed to be well-priced. I showed it to my mother, aunts and grandmother and we determined that if we all pulled together, that we could purchase this property for future getaways.

So I call the listing agent...

I used my cell phone. My cell phone has a private number. I don't give it out to anyone. I forward my 800 number when I'm on the road (like I am now) and I do not want anyone to have that information.

I get a message that the contact number I have dialed does not accept blocked calls.

Not only is that frustrating, it's bad business. I will not unblock my number in order to inquire about a property, thus giving that number to a stranger. It's not going to happen. My aunt loaned me her cell phone because she wanted me to seek additional information. For me, I was already turned-off by this agent and no longer wanted to try to work around the hurdles he had placed for me to contact him.

But, the rest of the crew wants to forge ahead, so I call. I get a voice mail. Not well-branded, not particularly inviting and not offering any alternate contact information. It's during regular business hours. There's no indication of when my call will be returned. I left my 800 number so that even if I were away from the phone, I'd have quick access to any incoming calls (it forwards to my cell and sends an alert to my email whenever I have a message).

We wait.

We wait.

... and, we wait some more.

I didn't indicate if it was the quaint little cottage or one of the lavish condos or a multi-million dollar beach front property that I wanted to see. I called on Monday, it is now Wednesday afternoon. Sure, I could call another agent, and I probably will -- but that's not the point of my rant.

I work with real estate agents, Realtors(r) and brokers every day. Everyone is concerned about lead generation, about having calls coming in, showings to be made, listings to be posted... and this is often what happens when those leads are generated. Not with MY clients, of course... but with some. :O)

If this were not a common problem, I'd assume it was just a bad agent. But, for me, this has happened several times. I literally had to chase the agent to buy my 25 acre farm over a period of weeks. I had to call and follow up on my own when I bought the house in town prior to the farm. In my experience as an individual, it's the rule rather than the exception.

I know that Active Rainers aren't like this. I know that people who blog, who network, who open themselves up to be known -- even before that first call is made -- understand the importance of handling clients.

But I also know that this group, more than any other, understands the importance of contact management and prompt communication with leads ... so this is where I'm placing my rant. Right here, where people who really "get it" will commiserate with me.

*rant ends now*


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Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Angela - Thanks for your post. Such a simple thing, really, and yet often not done well, or at all. The follow-up is so key, but you wouldn't know it from some folks' behavior. If you are the one whho does follow-up consistently, it WILL get noticed.


Mar 14, 2007 05:37 PM #20
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland


Your Rant is only one of many rants that I had my self. It was the catalyst for getting me into the business some 19 years ago. I told my wife then if those Agents can make that kind of money providing that lousy of service just imagine how well we will do.

Unfortunately the Poor service goes on and on and on. But not by me.

Mar 14, 2007 05:43 PM #21
Kaye Thomas
Real Estate West - Manhattan Beach, CA
e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA

I guess that many of these agents think a phone is just a prop you use for the picture on your business card.. either that or they are really stupid.....;)

Mar 14, 2007 06:51 PM #22
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
If the agent does not have even enough time to answer a phone call, where will they find time to find new clients?
Mar 14, 2007 10:25 PM #23
Angela Allen - Danville, KY
Marketing Specialist

Wow! Now THAT is support! Thanks for all the responses (even after I retired for the evening last night). And Kelly -- I usually get up around 5:30 (even on vacation, out of habit) and this sunrise happened just after 7 a.m. (thanks to the recent change in daylight savings time).

Helping agents with their marketing is something I really enjoy -- but it never ceases to amaze me when the most basic of marketing points (like returning a call) is missed.  Like Brett pointed out, it's not a matter of business or marketing -- it's a matter of good manners!

What a supportive group. Thanks for the opportunity to rant and the wonderful responses :O)

Mar 14, 2007 11:42 PM #24
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Hope you are enjoying your time in vacation.  I am amazed by how many times I have to call listing agents to try to make appointments or get information.  We have had a pretty slow winter in NH and properties are staying on the market longer than ever -- sometimes 6 months.  On the average, I have to call agents 3 -4 times, just to get a call back for more information.  Then, these very same agents are the ones that complain about the consumer not understanding why they should pay X$$$ in commission.    I join in your rant!

Mar 15, 2007 01:09 AM #25
Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate


Thanks for sharing your Rant with us.  It's pretty timely in our particular case and we so totally sympathize with you.  It is just so infuriating when people don't return calls.  Makes us wonder where some agents get their business when they are so out of touch.



Mar 15, 2007 02:13 AM #26
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
I've never heard of being able to decide what calls to accept. May be I am in the dark. I wouldn't have called him at all after that though. Why is it so important that he have your number, especially since he didn't even call you
Mar 15, 2007 02:38 AM #27
Heather Saul
Weichert Realtors Hoey Group - Wildwood, NJ
Hmm....  it doesn't sound like this agent is really working to sell his listing.  I see the same thing down here in South Jersey.
Mar 15, 2007 03:13 AM #28
Terry Collins II
HomeSmart ICARE Realty - Sacramento, CA
If it involves real estate, I'm there.

That happens to me a lot. I have customers who have pre-qualified for a home loan, yet have a difficult time finding a professional realtor. Thanks for the post.

Mar 15, 2007 03:55 AM #29
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley
About a third of the agents out there are not up to par, in my experience. Very frustrating when you have to deal with them either in a transaction or for the general public.
Mar 15, 2007 04:37 AM #30
Allison Werner
To Be Announced - Middletown, NJ

Phone calls that aren't returned are my personal pet peeve. The agents that don't return calls probably don't even know how much income they are losing.

Mar 15, 2007 05:29 AM #31
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

If you lose!   The agent who gets back promply to the inquiry is usually the one who sells it.

Patricia Aulons/SEACOAST NH & ME 

Mar 15, 2007 05:59 AM #32
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon

Hope you are having a blast - I love sunrises - my family laughs because when we take a cruise I always look to see the direction of travel so I can pick a cabin on the sunrise side of the ship -

So, have you called another agent yet?

Mar 15, 2007 08:00 AM #33
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate
I can't believe that agents don't return phone calls.  It just stuns me and I love it when a client says "well, I called so and so first, but they never returned my phone call!"
Mar 15, 2007 12:26 PM #34
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher


 I was one of those people, Chris....I had gone to an open house with my husband when we were getting married and were SERIOUSLY looking for a home.  We met the agent giving the open house and told him we were getting married and looking for a home in the area.  He never called; and lost a sale, we bought about 2 months later.

Mar 15, 2007 03:04 PM #35
Beth Bastian
Rosemont Financial Inc - Simi Valley, CA
Simi Valley Real Estate
Wow, I hear this story often and I am always amazed.
Mar 16, 2007 01:15 PM #36
Tami Nutall
REMAX 2000 - Silver Spring, MD
The Busy Womannulls Realtor

Thanks Angela,

You made me think a lot more about setting up my voicemail script on my phone.

I wrote one, but it's just sitting in my marketing binder - even though I do think about when I know I've missed a call.

Thanks for the conviction, it only makes up better agents

May 01, 2007 02:59 PM #37
Laurel Grandle, Principal Broker, EXIT REALTY KNOXVILLE

I can fully understand your frustrations.  Even as good as our cell phones and voice mails are, is it possible your message was never received?  Also, I had emergency surgery, myself, recently, and my messages were not promptly returned for a few days...I had an assistant, office back-up, etc., but the load was too much for those helping could be the agent had an emergency.  I'd surely give the benefit of the doubt here, until I knew for sure that the agent was ignoring the message.

Especially in this market, it makes NO SENSE to delay returning a phone call or responsing to a request from any prospect.

Oct 07, 2007 10:43 AM #38
Angela Allen - Danville, KY
Marketing Specialist
I agree, Laurel. That was in Florida earlier this year. This week (and last) I'm having the same difficulty with trying to lease some office space. Realtors and agents won't even give me a call back -- even those that say they have space for lease! I've chronicled that on this week. I just don't understand...
Oct 09, 2007 09:42 AM #39
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