I was scrolling through online listings recently when an exterior photo caught my eye. Upon clicking into the detailed property view and remarks to get a closer look, I was surprised to see that the first sentence read "No phone calls please." I had to reread this a couple of times to make sure I wasn't seeing things. And yet, according to some of our agents, it is becoming more and more common within the industry for agents to request "no phones calls in either the public listing remarks, the private remarks or both."
Why don't we want to talk to potential clients anymore? Is it really an inconvenience to talk to potential clients or our fellow colleagues on the phone about one of our listings?
According to a recent study by the California Association of REALTORS®, only 9 percent of agents met or exceeded buyer response time expectations. An astounding 91 percent of agents only "kind of" met or fell way below meeting response time expectations.
Just to clarify: it seems that we want people to contact us about their real estate needs, but then we don't respond to their inquiries. I don't get that, so I decided to do my own little test. I randomly called five agents and I got five voicemails (surprise, surprise). I left a message saying I was interested in information on moving to their market, gave my first name and return phone number. I got one return phone call two days later.
Going back to the California Association of REALTORS® study, additional findings reported that the top three reasons that buyers were unsatisfied with their agents were:
- Slow response time (51 percent)
- Ineffective/Inefficient communication (23 percent)
- Undesirable communication methods (15 percent)
In a business that is built on relationships and personal interaction, these statistics are certainly disappointing. But on the bright side, what a huge opportunity this is! If you want to improve your business, just start answering your phone. It seems like your competitor's aren't doing that. From a buyer's perspective, 17 percent are likely to start working with the first agent that responds to them. So those are pretty good odds if you are the one answering their phone calls and inquiries.
In fact, I'd build my brand around being accessible. I'd advertise it on my online profiles, websites, listing remarks, business cards and anywhere I could. I'd make this a part of who I was -- "The agent who answers their phone." You could be known for worse things in this business!