When Should I Call My Agent?
When a buyer or seller asks, "Should I call my agent?" the answer is always yes. Most agents welcome calls from their clients, regardless of frequency. Real estate agents are in the business of service, and that means taking care of clients' needs and addressing concerns as they come up.
Of course, calling your agent 10 times a day is not recommended. But things often move fast in this business. If you're in the middle of intense negotiations or an emergency has arisen—perhaps you are down to the wire on closing and paperwork is missing or an unexpected lien popped up on the title work—those circumstances warrant frequent phone contact.
Let's delve more deeply into the whys, whens, and wherefores of calling your real estate agent.
Establish a Communication Plan Early
After you decide to engage an agent, discuss how, when, and how often to communicate. Set up the parameters in advance. You and your agent can decide on one or all of the following methods:
- Daily or weekly telephone updates and conference calls.
- Email. Again, you can ask for regular updates, or just email on an as-needed basis.
- Text messages—best for confirming an appointment or short conversations.
- Voicemail messages.
- Face-to-face meetings. Handling complex situations in person is often easier.
Some agents don't answer their cell phones but 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 one.
Reasons to Call Your Agent
If it bothers you, no question is unreasonable. Here are a few topics that a homebuyer 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 to address with your agent:
If lacking an answer to one of your questions, your agent will find the answer for you.
Bonus Advice for Homebuyers
Novice house-hunters, here's one thing guaranteed to give your real estate agent gray hairs: Start driving around neighborhoods you like and calling on the "for sale" signs you see—by yourself. Agents understand that you're trying to be proactive. But if you're worried about wasting your agent's time, don't be.
Agents often work with buyers in the very early stages of looking for a home. Sometimes buyers have several potential neighborhoods on their list. Part of a real estate agent's job is to help buyers narrow their selection. To do so, 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.
So, if you spot a "for sale" sign and want to know more or see the property, you don't need to call the listing agent to get information. 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 Realtor's Code of Ethics to solicit another agent's listing.
Homebuying and home selling should not be painful experiences, nor should any buyer or seller ever worry about calling an agent. Remember, you're the client, so you set the expectations.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.