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One word can make all the difference…

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Right now, this very day, a few hard-working, client-centered real estate agents are alienating prospective clients and causing them to turn away.

These are potential clients who may have been following the agent’s blog posts. They may be people who responded to an offer for a special report, so they’ve been receiving emails regularly. They may be residents of the agent’s farm area who have been receiving postal mail. They may have read the agent’s bio and decided “This is the agent I need.”

Whoever they are, and whatever the reason for their decision, they picked up the telephone and called that agent.

And then something terrible happened…hearing bad message

They got an answering machine. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was with one word in the message on that machine.

It politely asked the caller to leave a name and number and then stated: “I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience.”

In other words – I’ll call you if and when I darn well feel like it. It might as well say “But don’t hold your breath.”

I’m prejudiced I suppose, because every time I’ve run into that message, the person’s “earliest convenience” never happened.

I feel almost certain that most of those agents didn’t mean what they said.

They probably meant something like “As soon as I have a minute.” Or maybe “at my earliest opportunity.”

Check your words...

Just one "rotten" one can spoil all the work you did leading up to the day when that prospective client decided to call.

Wise people say to ignore what others say and pay attention to what they do - actions do speak louder than words.

However, if words are all a prospective client has to go on, they're all he has to go on. He can't judge by actions until he's met you and seen you in action. So be careful.

Choose your words carefully.




Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Good points all Marte. Starting with the hello on the phone is a HUGE step 1.

Apr 13, 2023 05:20 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes, Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI, hello is best. But if you can't answer, at least leave a welcoming message. One that says something like "I'll call you back as soon as possible" or maybe "I'll call back within X hours."


Apr 13, 2023 06:16 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

wow, Marte- you hit another pet peeve of mine. When I hear that as the outgoing message, I cringe and hang up. What it says to me is "I'll call you back when I feel like it."

Apr 13, 2023 05:34 PM
Marte Cliff

Kathy Streib In my experience, it means "I'll never call back." I've never had a call back from a message with that statement.

Apr 13, 2023 06:17 PM
Fred Carver Real Estate Consulant
Retired BC Realtor - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hi Marte Cliff Great Tip and advice for us all..

Have a fun and successful day

Apr 13, 2023 06:03 PM
Marte Cliff

Thanks for stopping by Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation. I wish you a good day too!

Apr 13, 2023 06:18 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Marte,

You are totally on point! I can't for the life of me understand agents who don't pick up their homes! Choosing your words carefully all the time but especially on your voice mail!!

Apr 13, 2023 06:23 PM
Marte Cliff

Dorie Dillard Austin TX You can't always answer. Sometimes you're with another client, or even taking a shower. But that message should be welcoming and assure people that you'll return the call as soon as you can.

Apr 13, 2023 08:12 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

What you say, and do really matters in this life for so many people in so many ways

Apr 13, 2023 09:00 PM
Marte Cliff

It certainly does Laura Cerrano.

Apr 13, 2023 09:48 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Marte I loved this post and so many times I get the voice mail message you described... on a side note I get calls and I am on the phone with someone else and they do not leave a message that annoys me.... and then they call back an hour or so later I purposely do not answer and no voice mail what is your thought about this? Endre

Apr 13, 2023 10:50 PM
Marte Cliff

Endre Barath, Jr. My belief is that "real" callers will leave a message. The rest are telemarketers. Since most of my clients contact me by email, I don't get a lot of "real" phone calls, so almost always let calls go to the machine.

If I recognize the name or number, I pick up - but sometimes even that is a lie. One day I got two calls from my own number!

Apr 14, 2023 07:18 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - word choice is important.  The behavior that follows makes a difference as well.  

Apr 14, 2023 04:03 AM
Marte Cliff

Yes Michael Jacobs. The behavior that follows is all-important. You just have to ensure that you have the opportunity to demonstrate that behavior by choosing the right words before people meet you.

Apr 14, 2023 07:20 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Marte. The choice of words never ceases to amaze me. I catch myself often utilizing poor word choice. It is a journey to get it right all the time. Enjoy your day.

Apr 14, 2023 04:13 AM
Marte Cliff

Wayne Martin I think words are a lot of fun. So many have meanings that are similar, but not quite. When I'm writing I often check a thesaurus in order to find a "just right" word.

Apr 14, 2023 07:21 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

You know what I've run into by real estate agents - a voice mail message that hasn't been set up yet, or a voice mailbox that is full. Really?

Apr 14, 2023 04:55 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat Palmiotti That's hard to believe, isn't it? Someone wants your business, but won't take a message from you. It makes no sense at all.

I've even told people that their mailbox was full and gotten a reply along the lines of "Yes, so-and-so mentioned that last week." They just don't care!

Apr 14, 2023 07:22 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

What a great point, Marte. I hate it when I get that message for the reasons you stated. 

Apr 14, 2023 05:48 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander, Broker It certainly is jarring. If they really do feel that way, then fine. I didn't want to do business with them anyway. But if they use that word mistakenly, then I always wish they had a friend who liked them enough to tell them to change it.

Apr 14, 2023 07:25 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker

Marte Cliff and then, Marte, there are those who have no message. All you get is the person you are calling in unavailable, leave a message! Now that's a turn off.

Apr 14, 2023 07:39 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander, Broker It's even worse when they don't even say a name. You can't be certain you didn't misdial.

Apr 14, 2023 09:25 PM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I never really thought about it in that manner, but you are absolutely right, people can perceive something we say much differently than how we meant for it to come across.

Apr 14, 2023 06:40 AM
Marte Cliff

Brian England Yes, they absolutely can, and they do! It happens in conversation all the time - but then we're able to correct it right away. When the mistake is in writing or on a machine, there's no opportunity to change a mistaken impression.

Apr 14, 2023 07:27 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Ditto!  I've never liked that phrase as it sounded so hollow!

Apr 14, 2023 07:32 PM
Marte Cliff

Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ To me it sounds like "Go away!"

Apr 14, 2023 09:25 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ


Apr 16, 2023 04:56 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

This is an important reminder to think about the words we share in our voice email recording that could be less than welcoming to the caller.


Apr 14, 2023 08:21 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jeff Dowler, CRS The words are important - and so is the tone of voice. We need to always remember to smile and feel happy before recording a message!

Apr 14, 2023 09:27 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is very good advice to share.

Have a great day and an outstanding week.

Apr 16, 2023 09:41 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Roy Kelley - I wish you a fine week as well!

Apr 16, 2023 12:12 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, well, I don't have "at my convenience", but at my first opportunity.   Maybe the same thing.   Need to think about changing this.

Apr 16, 2023 10:51 AM
Marte Cliff

Joan Cox No, that's not the same at all. First opportunity is great. Anyway, I think so. To me that means "As soon as I possibly can."

Apr 16, 2023 12:12 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

All good points here Marte Cliff -- We must CHOOSE our words WISELY! Thank you!

May 05, 2023 01:50 PM