Special offer

The Most Unrealistic Expectation In Real Estate

Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476

The Most Unrealistic Expectation in Real Estate:

In the world of real estate, one of the most persistent yet impractical pieces of advice, right after the cliche' "Location, Location, Location," is "Always answer your phone." This statement implies that you should be on standby 24/7 for any random call that comes in. In reality, most unexpected calls these days are from robocallers, solicitors, or scammers. We've created a world that screens against them too.

"Always Answer Your Phone"

Here’s a Thought:

If you call someone and reach their voicemail, leave a message. Or send a text. Assume they are busy at that moment, not that they are ignoring you or being unprofessional. Of course, you do need to promptly return calls and texts when you’re next available, or this advice is pointless. However, expecting to always answer your phone is unrealistic and unnecessary.

  • Answer your phone when you're in a meeting with a client or networking partner? NO!
  • Answer your phone while showing property to a buyer? NO!
  • Answer your phone during a listing appointment? NO!
  • Answer your phone at a meal with a client, referral partner, or family member? NO!
  • Answer your phone when you're closed for the evening? NO!
  • Answer your phone during downtime with your spouse or kids? NO!
  • Answer your phone on your day off? NO!
  • Answer your phone when you're on vacation? Hell NO!

Be Present:

Don’t be rude to those you're with; give them your full attention. Maintain your boundaries because others will only respect them if you do. Answer your phone when you're available to give that call your full attention: at your desk prospecting, in your car, or between appointments. YES!

FOMO Is Misleading:

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is why "always answer your phone" has become a misguided mantra. There’s no badge of honor for being rude or distracted when you’re with others. Unless you're a world-class neurological surgeon who is one of only five people capable of performing a specific surgery, relax. Let them leave a message.

By managing your availability wisely, you can provide better service, maintain professionalism, and keep your sanity intact. Get to be known as a "prompt returner of calls guy (or gal)", that'll set'em at ease when they can't reach you initially. 😉

Image by Satyress from Pixabay

Image by Harald Lepisk from Pixabay

Posted by

Thomas J. Nelson
REALTOR®, CRS, RCS-D, CDPE, e-Pro, Certified Military Home Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, Author, Keynote Speaker and  Podcast Host 

Serving Coastal San Diego from Carlsbad to Coronado, Downtown, Balboa Park Area,
La Jolla/UCSD & Mission Bay Park Areas
I Offer Rebates to Veterans
& Active Duty

Facebook l Linkedin
Website I About Me
Search For Homes

(858) 232-8722
             call or text me
                      email me


RCS-Divorce     Southern California Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, medical advice or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice, health or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.
Dennis Neal
RE/MAX, Big Bear - Big Bear Lake, CA
Your Home Sold in 21 Days or We Sell It For Free

Hi, Thomas. This is a great post and worth thinking about. What kind of message are you sending clients about their value if you are constantly distracted by your phone instead of focusing on them? Not a good one. Thank you for sharing.

May 29, 2024 01:36 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Excellent, Thomas!  I have been guilty of saying "Answer your phone" but at the same time, I never took calls when on a staging consultation. Your post makes sense. We don't expect other professions to be on call 24/7. 

May 29, 2024 06:07 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Well, Kathy Streib, to your point, I think we need to answer as often as we are available during business hours, but others need to stop writing a negative narrative when we don't. It was never like that in the 1970's,1980's or 1990's. Hmmm what changed by the 2000's. Exactly!

Plus, "they" would not want to be interrupted by us taking a call while with them, so why would we do it for them? 24/7 is for FOMO. Boundaries are for professionals.

May 29, 2024 06:19 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

My phone is closed for business from 8 PM to 9 AM and if someone calls at that time and doesn't leave a message then obviously, I lost nothing.

May 29, 2024 06:55 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Oh I love hearing that and respect your boundaries Ed Silva, 203-206-0754 - good for you and good for those around you too!

May 30, 2024 08:03 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets   You are one to reserve Sunday for the family day and let your clients know that as well.

May 30, 2024 08:16 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Yes indeed:

May 30, 2024 08:41 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Thomas - 24/7 availability and multi-tasking of many sorts seem to be promised by some in the industry.  The cost of such thought/behavior is not good in my opinion.  From reading your posts over the years, I know you practice what you preach.  

May 30, 2024 03:46 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Thank you Michael Jacobs and agreed. I actually do not hire people when they are an idividual that claims 24/7 availability because I immediately worry about the quality of their work (and state or mind). I know younger folks have more energy and are likely better capable of longer hours, but I'm speaking from North of middle age 😂 

May 30, 2024 08:02 AM
Michael Jacobs

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets - gaining perspective is something earned with time on this planet for some.  It's not something that everyone understands.   

May 30, 2024 09:00 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I totally agree with you - unless there is a situation where I am waiting for an offer/offer response/counter offer and there is a time issue. In that case, I will let whoever I'm with know there is one call I will have to take. But except for that kind of situation, I won't answer when I'm with someone else either.

May 30, 2024 04:57 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Kat Palmiotti agreed, I have had to do that too, as you said, it's the exception not the rule and the person I'm with is told upfront. We all have legit exceptions.

May 30, 2024 08:00 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I enjoy not answering my phone these days, but early in my career I always answered my phone and even spoke to too many bad leads, haha.

May 30, 2024 05:27 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Yep, I think early in our careers we hustle so we do more - make more mistakes and then refine and find our rhythm

May 30, 2024 07:59 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Amen to every word you wrote, Thomas. During my working hours if I'm not tied up with a client. I always answer my phone. It seems to shock people when I do!

May 30, 2024 05:38 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Yes! I get thanked for answering my phone. It's says a lot about where we've devolved to when you get thanked for simply doing what we always did - answer when availbel, don't answer when not.

May 30, 2024 07:58 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jun 01, 2024 08:15 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Thomas... when I'm with clients I do not pick up my phone unless I am waiting for information relating to a showing we have scheduled and I tell them that right up front. They have my full attention. 

I'm always amused by people who call me and then ask me if I'm on the "other line." I always say, I don't have another line and if I wasn't able to speak with them when they called I would let them know when I'd be calling back.

Jun 02, 2024 05:12 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

I'm exactly the same way with almost exactly the same response 😂

Jun 02, 2024 07:30 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

A few years ago, I got an inquiry on one of my listings from some popular data aggregation website, and the instructions told me to "respond within 5 minutes". I'm sorry but no. I will not walk out while showing a house, reviewing comps, staging, closing, or any other task that requires my full attention at that moment. I will call back as quickly as I can, but I will not drop what I am doing or be disrespectful to my clients. Awesome post, Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Jun 02, 2024 08:27 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Thank you Andrea Bedard - yes indeed and agreed. We're not Walmart, we're a boutique that offers a unique service and personalized attention. If people can stan in line for an iPhone for hours before Apple store opens, they can wait 3--60 minutes for a call back or reply. We are crockpots not microwaves.😉

Jun 02, 2024 08:45 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Thomas.

I included your post in Last Week's Favorites on ActiveRain.

So thank you for writing it!




Jun 02, 2024 08:38 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

OH wow! Thank you! I was not aware of this feature! I'll go look.

Jun 02, 2024 08:40 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Very good advice. What I have heard is agents who receive a voice mail and then never call back. Then there are those agents with the voice mail box is full.  Both can be frustrating for sellers or buyers.

Jun 02, 2024 08:45 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Agreed Leanne Smith - As Mrs. Gump aptly advises, we can't help stupid, stupid is as stupid does. And, I can't help those "stupid" agents, this advice is for good agents that serve their clients with presence and focus and then diligently return calls and respond to texts and emails when they become available.


Jun 02, 2024 08:48 AM
Leanne Smith

Ah and that is what separate the common real estate agent from the truly professional real estate agent.

Jun 02, 2024 08:50 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


This is such excellent advice. It's certainly appropriate to set boundaries for ourselves, and with others, too, about when we are available to talk. I am not available 24/7 except for family!


Jun 02, 2024 01:13 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Agreed and thank you Jeff Dowler, CRS - family (and some dear friends) are the only 24/7 people in my life too.

Jun 03, 2024 07:58 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Throughout the Day , I am getting “ Spam Likely “ warnings from my Cell . Additionally I get a lot of same Area Code / Local  Numbers calling me . If I  choose to answer those it’s a Quick - Hello .? If I hear a bleep or others calls in the background I immediately Hang Up .

Jun 03, 2024 07:03 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Me too, I invented a game for those...answer and out loud I say 
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1 you're too slow son!" and hang up if not interrupted by a now confused caller. 😂 

Jun 03, 2024 07:59 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I do not answer a call that shows on my phone as a number and not a name. Those calls are mostly spam. If they really want to talk to me...well that is why I have a VM to record their message and I will respond when appropriate.

If I do recognize the name, I will answer if it is an appropriate time to do so.

I expect other professionals to act in a similar manner.

Jun 06, 2024 06:43 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Sounds fair enough John.

Jun 06, 2024 09:18 PM