How to Talk to a Realtor

Couple meeting with a businesswoman at a small round table
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It might seem counterproductive, but not all real estate agents jump to answer their phones whenever a call comes in. Some feel that a caller will leave a voicemail message and allow the agent to call back at a better, more appropriate time. Others just don't like being tied to a phone and forced to meet demands, while still others simply prefer a different type of communication.

Your agent's phone habits don't have to derail an otherwise productive relationship if you know and establish the ground rules up front.

Start on the Right Foot

You should have ample time at your first meeting to voice all your concerns and ask your prospective agent numerous questions. Take advantage of this so you won't have to make a phone call or otherwise reach out each time you're confused by something if you decide to work together. You'll find that you already have most of the answers.

There's no harm in tapping a list of questions into your phone so it's easily accessible and you don't overlook anything.

This is also a good time to ask how long the agent generally takes to respond to phone messages so you have some idea of what you're dealing with going in.

And yes, feel free to mention your own contact preferences. Maybe you're almost always tied up with your child's homework between 7 and 8 p.m., or you can't take personal calls at work. These wouldn't be good times to discuss anything important.

When to Call?

Many first-time home buyers, and sometimes repeat buyers, feel uneasy and uncertain about how often they can call an agent. They don't want to be a bother or be tagged as troublesome or high maintenance. But they need answers and they feel that their agent should provide those answers.

It's an agent's job to properly advise and guide clients, and to set parameters and work within the client's own framework and needs. The client comes first.

You're probably working with the wrong real estate agent if you're made to feel as though you don't come first. Of course, you don't want to call your agent 10 times in a row. In fact, calling your agent more than once or twice a day after you're in contract to buy a home could be considered excessive, but it can depend on what's going on.

You might need to speak with your agent more often if you're scheduling a variety of inspectors and juggling mortgage details. Ask your agent to share their preferred business hours to help ease any discomfort.

Alternate Communication Methods

Take your cue here from teenagers and young adults, many of whom would never dream of actually talking on a phone. They send text messages instead.

Even agents who don't answer their phones regularly will often respond relatively quickly to a text message. This can be a perfect option if you have a simple question that might not require a lot of dialogue. Or consider the more formal method of sending an email. Your agent will receive these on their phone as well.

The important thing is that you establish your agent's preferred methods and find a way to work together that satisfies you both.