When Should I Call My Agent?

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Question: When Should I Call My Agent?

A reader asks: "We're just starting out house hunting by driving around neighborhoods we like and calling on the for sale signs we see. Our agent seemed upset when we told her what we doing and told us to call her instead. Isn't that wasting my agent's time if we call her? I don't want to keep bugging her until we find a home. When should I call my agent?"

Answer: Most of the agents I know welcome calls from their clients, regardless of frequency. We are in the business of service, and that means taking care of our clients' needs and addressing concerns as they come up.

Agents work with buyers, for example, in the very early stages of looking for a home. Sometimes buyers aren't sure where they want to live and might have several potential neighborhoods on their list. Part of a real estate agent's job is to help buyers narrow their selection. To do this, an agent might take buyers on neighborhood tours, send email listings targeting particular areas, and spend time either on the phone or in person discussing parameters and defining wants versus needs.

Sellers work with agents long before listing their homes for sale. A listing agent helps sellers first decide whether it's prudent to sell. They suggest repairs before resale, help with home staging and preparing the home for sale.

How Often Can I Call My Agent?

When a buyer or seller asks: "Should I call my agent?" the answer is always yes. Some agents don't answer their cell phones and they return calls once or twice a day at certain times. If that behavior is unacceptable to you, either work out a different schedule with your agent or find another agent who is available when you need that agent.

Calling your agent ten times a day is not recommended. But the frequency of telephone calls depends on the urgency and the details of the transaction. There are times emergencies arise -- perhaps you are down to the wire on closing and paperwork is missing or an unexpected lien popped up on the title work -- and those circumstances warrant more phone contact.

Establish a Communication Plan Early

When you first meet with an agent, ask the agent when you should call and how often you can call. Set up the parameters in advance. Insist on initiating this conversation in the beginning of your relationship about how to best communicate, because it will avoid disappointments later on. You and your agent can decide on one or all of the following communication methods:

  • Daily or weekly telephone updates and conference calls. You're the client, so you set the expectations.
  • Email. For example, I regularly receive a series of emails almost daily from many clients.
  • Text messages. Use text messaging for short conversations such as confirming an appointment.
  • Voice mail messages. Many agents turn off their cell phones in the evening and charge them.
  • Face-to-face meetings. It's often easier to handle complex situations in person.

Reasons to Call Your Agent

If you spot a For Sale sign and want to know more about the property, you don't need to call the listing agent to get more information, because that's why you have hired an agent. For buyers, keeping your agent in the loop prevents procuring cause problems. For sellers, calling your agent about other listings prevents misunderstandings; besides, it's against the REALTORĀ® Code of Ethics to solicit another agent's listing.

No question, if it bothers you, is unreasonable. Here are a few topics that a home buyer or home seller might have questions about, but any type of real-estate related question, even if it doesn't fall into one of the following categories, is important.

If an agent doesn't know the answer to one of your questions, a good agent will find the answer for you. Home buying and / or home selling should not be a painful experience, nor should any buyer or seller worry about calling an agent. Agents are generally very happy to supply information and make certain clients are satisfied with their services.

If you're happy, you'll refer family and friends to the agent. There's not one agent in the business who doesn't love referrals.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.