Realtor Response Time

“My Realtor won’t call me back!” is a claim I often hear from people who are buying or selling real estate.   They express frustration and bewilderment as to why a real estate agent they’ve contacted either delays a call back or, worse yet, never calls back at all.  I understand their sentiments but can’t understand why this happens with such frequency.

Most Americans  check their phones incessantly throughout the day and night. In today’s hyper-technical world, instantaneous response is expected. Whether by text, call, voicemail, apps or email, people are staying in touch with their network. Since the majority of real estate agents and clients own a a smartphone, staying in contact should be very easy. It’s outrageous  that many qualified leads are lost due to delayed response time from their agent. Even more unthinkable that an agent would not have the courtesy to return a call to someone whose business they’ve already gotten. Some agents do not respond within one day.  By that time, the potential client has certainly moved on and found someone else to assist them.

According to research by the National Association of Realtors home buyers and sellers almost always do business with the first agent they meet–a whopping 72%.  Yet, many realtors don’t take that critical first step towards securing a willing buyer or seller by a lightning fast response time. Since most realtors aren’t sitting behind a desk or tethered to a landline, they can respond on the go: from their cars, their homes or even when they are out showing property.

Many real estate customers weighed in on this issue on a message forum board at Zillow.  See their comments here:

I admit I’ve purchased leads from and other similar companies, and they advised that the window of time to respond is under 15 minutes.  I once closed a $350,000 sale and got a listing for the condo they were selling because I called them back within two minutes of receiving the lead.  The seller was exasperated when he was not able to reach the listing agent within 24 hours even after she’d promised to call him back right away. I also subscribe to a referral service called where I receive text notifications of buyer leads. But the catch is I have to claim the referral within seconds or it’s gone. So turning my phone on silent when I’m awake just isn’t an option.

The importance of response time can’t be overstated.  According to

Calling a lead in 5 minutes VS 30 minutes increases the chances of converting that lead by 21X

With information so readily available at our fingertips these days, it’s no wonder consumers grow impatient at a quicker rate than they used to. As a matter of fact, a recent study by Microsoft surveyed over 2,000 adults and found people now lose concentration after 8 seconds! That’s a shorter attention span than goldfish! This tells us that leads are more perishable than ever and when people want information from an expert, they want it NOW. 

According to an article in Forbes magazine, a quick response time is listed as the number one Best Practices.

Respond quickly. Today’s real estate clients expect speedier service than did any generation before them. (Not only speedier than their parents expected, but even than they themselves expected this time last year.) As I often say, an hour represents a year in internet time; a prospective client who doesn’t hear from you the same morning or afternoon of their attempt to contact you may very well move on, on the assumption that you’re never going to get back to them

People who are buying a home are making the most expensive purchase of their lives, and they want and expect someone to care enough to call, text or email them back in a timely way to help them with the transaction. Whether they’re spending $100,000 or $1M, customers need to feel that they are important, and a timely response shows them that the agent truly cares. Realtors should respond in the same manner that they were contacted. For example, if customers prefer text messages to phone calls, agents should honor that and respond in kind.

When shopping for a qualified agent, it’s appropriate to judge them on their response time to the initial contact.  Even if one agent has more experience, the one who calls you back right away may deserve your business. Just because they’ve had more years in the business, doesn’t guarantee the level of respect and responsiveness that every customer deserves.  Like Og Mandino said, “Experience is often overrated; usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly.” Don’t overlook those younger or less experience agents. Often they have more time to devote to you and are hungry –they’ll work harder to earn and keep your business.

If an agent can’t call you back, they can at least text an acknowledgement of the call with a promise to call back within a certain time.  Some lead generation sites, like Zillow have a feature where an automated email is sent immediately. And certainly every professional agent should have a clearly spoken voicemail greeting stating his or her name and company affiliation with assurance of a prompt return call.

It is unrealistic for customers to expect their agents to be on call 24/7, but smart agents realize that their workdays are not 9-5.  Spouses, friends and significant others who have a real estate agent in their lives come to expect constant phone calls and texts that interrupt social and family events. So agents must prioritize their time and realize that they can’t always get back to their customers and clients immediately.

Since I’m a night owl, I have no problem answering calls, texts and emails after 10 p.m.  I once made a sale because I was awake at midnight when my client had questions about a property.  I got up, got online and found the answers to his questions.  Not only did I make a client for life, I also made a friend.  Turns out, he’d already met with several other agents. When I asked him why he chose me, he simply said, “Lisa, you always go the extra mile for me.”

So why do agents not respond in a timely way?  The most common answer is–“I’m busy.”  Successful agents are constantly looking at properties online, running comparables, crafting listing presentations, showing properties and doing the mountain of paperwork this business requires.  At some point, if the agent is too busy to respond to incoming communication, maybe it’s time to hire an assistant.  Some agents are turning to virtual assistants–staff they hire in other countries that help them with paperwork and other duties so that they can devote their time to the most profit-generating aspects of their business.

Some agents only work part-time, devoting the majority of their day to another profession.  It is understandable why they do this since making a good living as an agent in a competitive market is very difficult, especially for new agents.  Others are not tech-savvy and have a difficult time managing apps, emails, texts and phone calls simultaneously.  It is a difficult juggling act at times and takes instruction and practice. But the results are well worth it: customers and clients who feel valued become loyal advocates.

Sadly, some agents  are just unprofessional or lazy.  That’s a harsh judgement, but unfortunately a few bad experiences with real estate agents taints the reputation of the rest of us.  In a personality driven, commission-based business, it’s unthinkable that agents are unresponsive.

Some agents don’t return calls because they don’t want to deal with a customer who’s “just looking” or who they feel may not be a qualified buyer. They may not be qualified, but they have people in their network who are, and they’ll be more likely to recommend a realtor who answers or responds quickly.

Still others don’t respond because they feel that there’s no money to be made because the caller is looking to rent a property.  That’s short-sighted, in my opinion.  Eventually most renters become buyers, and they will remember the agent who took the time to help them lease a property.  I’ve had great experience helping renters; they become some of my strongest and most loyal advocates because they are so appreciative that I was willing to help them even though the initial payoff was small.

Besides the obvious reason that returning calls, texts and emails is good for business, real estate agents should do it because it’s the right thing to do.  It makes clients, potential clients and even other agents feel that they are valued— that their time and concerns are important.  With the plethora of automation in this field—apps, automated searches and real estate websites– nothing replaces the human touch and the courtesy of responding in a timely manner with the information requested.  A good agent conveys a sincere desire to serve, not just to make a commission and get on to the next deal.

With hundreds of agents in a highly competitive market, consumers can be selective in their choice of agents. In the crowded field of merely competent agents, choose one who demonstrates an authentic concern for customers and a strong desire to help them achieve their goals.

Choose one who shows that level of care with a lightning fast response timelike me!

Call, text or email me anytime.  If I’m awake, I’ll answer.


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