Author Topic: Real estate by text  (Read 3476 times)

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Coley

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Real estate by text
« on: June 04, 2013, 10:16:34 AM »
We are in the process of selling a house. Our realtor, John, is someone we worked with previously when we bought our current home. He also is a member of a social group that we belong to. He's a nice guy, and we like him. We thought he represented us well when we purchased our house.

To preface this, DH and I are new to text messaging. We got our first smart phones a few months ago and never texted until that time. We don't really understand all the social norms of text messaging yet. I know that a lot of people carry on full conversations by text. I know texting also may be used to send brief FYI types of messages. We are finding ourselves put off by John's use of text messaging, which extends to e-mail as well. We perceive it to be a lack of communication bordering on rude.

1. Our e-mails to John don't receive a response. We have waited for him to reply to e-mail anywhere from one day to nearly a week. When he does reply, he generally provides an "I was so busy" excuse. In one instance, his delayed responses actually kept us from getting the house on the market as soon as we'd hoped. We were waiting on him to advise us on a repair.

2. Because John does not reply promptly to e-mail, we started texting him. This seems to generate faster responses.

3. When John responds to our texts, the responses are brief and often one-liners. They don't provide the detail we need. We ask follow-up questions, and his responses are short and almost curt. It's hard to know if he intends them to be curt because they're just words on a screen.

4. When John sends texts to us, even with FYI types of messages, we always respond with our thoughts on the topic. He rarely responds. As an example, we hit a serious snag in the contract on the house we're selling. On Sunday, John texted DH with the buyers' concern (the buyers are working with a different realtor). We responded. We haven't heard from John since. We would have expected him at least to respond with something along the lines of, "I will relay your response to the buyers' agent and get back with you by Tuesday." But nothing? It's as if the conversation has dropped into the abyss.

I'm wondering if the texting behavior we're observing from John is unusual as far as texting goes. We understand that texting can be more convenient than e-mail or a phone conversation, but it doesn't seem to lend itself very well to detailed communication. The texting shorthand and autocorrect mistakes are problematic. We're trying to work with John's preference for texting, but we feel that we're lost in translation, so to speak.

Given that we're his customers and paying his sales commission, our expectations about communication were higher than this. DH is going to text John again today to find out if there is anything more about the status of the contract on our house. We're feeling annoyed and also anxious because the contract is hanging in the balance. As has become the pattern, we expect that John will say he hasn't heard anything, which will then prompt him to contact the buyers' realtor.

Thoughts?

Shoo

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2013, 10:20:42 AM »
I think since John essentially works for you, it is within your rights to inform him that his communication is lacking and you need more.  But I would do this with a phone call.  Tell him his unanswered emails and cryptic text messages leave you feeling frustrated, and tell him you want to be kept better informed about what's going on.  Also tell him you want him to acknowledge that he has received your messages with some type of response.

This is a business relationship first and foremost, or at least it should be considering the nature of the transaction (a house!).  John is not providing what you need, so you need to tell him to step up to the plate and give it to you.

artk2002

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 10:24:15 AM »
This has nothing to do with texting and everything to do with a realtor who is not doing his job. There is no excuse, especially not a vague 'busy', for not returning a communication in a timely fashion. One week is not acceptable even for the most trivial thing to do with selling a home.

I'd say fire the guy, except that you've made the classic blunder of mixing business with social relationships. Since you can't fire him, sit him down, in person, and lay out what your expectations for communications are:

1) Timely responses to phone calls, e-mail and/or texts. You negotiate which is the right one for what kind of issue;
2) Complete (detailed) responses to questions. Getting information from a realtor shouldn't be harder than pulling teeth.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

cwm

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 11:05:24 AM »
The email thing is absolutely unprofessional. If you have time to respond to texts, you have time to respond to emails. Sorry, that's how it is. Most smart phones can pull up email on your phone.

Curt texts are a bit of a weird place. I know my mom can't text very well because of how big her hands are and how sensitive her phone's screen is. But if he's going to be texting as a major form of communication, I'd think the realtor would know better and have some way around this.

As far as not responding at all to your texts, he may not have gotten it. I sent my boyfriend a text on Friday night asking when he'd be home. He got home about 20 minutes later and asked if I had gotten his text. He had sent it 10 minutes before I sent mine to him, and didn't get it until about ten minutes after he'd walked into the house. We've also each had problems with various phones where you'd technically receive a text, but there was no notification. I'm not saying it's an excuse, because theoretically he'd keep in touch with you by other means, but text messaging is by no means a surefire way of communicating.

I think since John essentially works for you, it is within your rights to inform him that his communication is lacking and you need more.  But I would do this with a phone call.  Tell him his unanswered emails and cryptic text messages leave you feeling frustrated, and tell him you want to be kept better informed about what's going on.  Also tell him you want him to acknowledge that he has received your messages with some type of response.

POD to this. He's working for you, you have every right to clear and open lines of communication, and that means going in both directions.

Coley

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 11:06:47 AM »
Okay, we can't chalk this up to texting behavior. In that case, yes, we'll need to talk with him about our expectations. We are paying him a good commission to sell this house, so he ought to be more proactive and responsive in his communication with us. We're finding ourselves trying to interpret his silence.

Also, when I described our association with him as "members of a social group," I'm masking the actual type of organization. We are members of the same organization. We're acquaintances; we don't really socialize. Many people within this organization have hired John for the same reason we have -- our mutual connection to this organization. I suppose it would be possible for us to fire him; however, it would be awkward.

Just as an aside, I had reason recently to e-mail John's wife, Linda. We have children the same age. Linda asked me to e-mail her with some information about one of DS's activities. She wanted her DD to enroll. I e-mailed her the details. Never heard another word from her. Not a thank you or anything. Maybe what we're seeing in John is a family communication style?

Coley

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 11:25:12 AM »
The email thing is absolutely unprofessional. If you have time to respond to texts, you have time to respond to emails. Sorry, that's how it is. Most smart phones can pull up email on your phone.

Curt texts are a bit of a weird place. I know my mom can't text very well because of how big her hands are and how sensitive her phone's screen is. But if he's going to be texting as a major form of communication, I'd think the realtor would know better and have some way around this.

As far as not responding at all to your texts, he may not have gotten it. I sent my boyfriend a text on Friday night asking when he'd be home. He got home about 20 minutes later and asked if I had gotten his text. He had sent it 10 minutes before I sent mine to him, and didn't get it until about ten minutes after he'd walked into the house. We've also each had problems with various phones where you'd technically receive a text, but there was no notification. I'm not saying it's an excuse, because theoretically he'd keep in touch with you by other means, but text messaging is by no means a surefire way of communicating.

I think since John essentially works for you, it is within your rights to inform him that his communication is lacking and you need more.  But I would do this with a phone call.  Tell him his unanswered emails and cryptic text messages leave you feeling frustrated, and tell him you want to be kept better informed about what's going on.  Also tell him you want him to acknowledge that he has received your messages with some type of response.

POD to this. He's working for you, you have every right to clear and open lines of communication, and that means going in both directions.

To the bolded, that's a good point. Sometimes texts don't go through. It would seem that it could be problematic to rely on text messaging for this type of business transaction where there are many details to hash out.

I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt about the curtness. He comes across as if responding is an annoyance. I'm not sure whether it's intentional or if it's just the nature of texting. This is one of those situations in electronic communication where we might misinterpret his intent and get ourselves bent out of shape for no reason. I'm trying to focus only on the words and not read emotion into them. I have to admit that it's getting harder to do that because we are feeling anxious about the status of the contract.

MrTango

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 12:46:51 PM »
I wouldn't have gotten to the point of texting him to get a response.  I'd have fired him after he failed to respond to emails in a timely manner.

Virg

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 01:44:54 PM »
I agree with MrTango that it shouldn't have progressed this far.  Because he's a friend, I'd give him one more chance to get communications nailed down, but I wouldn't let him define the terms.  Tell him in very precise terms how you'd like to communicate and what time frames you expect, and then let him solve the problem of making it happen.  If he can't, find an agent who can work with you in your preferred method.

Virg

Coley

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 01:53:29 PM »
Thanks, all. Yes, because we have a personal connection we probably were more patient with his communication than we might have been otherwise.

FWIW, John called DH a little while ago. The contract fell through, and the house is going back on the market. We will talk to John about our expectations for communication.

Julian

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 05:22:56 PM »
I've bought and sold a few properties over the years, and never had a real estate agent communicate by text.  It has always been phone calls and emails (mostly for transmission of documents).

There's nothing wrong with you or DH calling him when you get cryptic texts.  That's what I'd do.  If he's too busy to answer, leave a message.  If he doesn't respond in a reasonable time frame, call again later.

Texting may be a very efficient form of communication for short FYIs but it is very inefficient if more information needs to be conveyed, or if a conversation needs to be had.  You'll be saving you and him time by calling.

GrammarNerd

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 05:33:57 PM »
If the house is going back on the market anyway, I would consider telling John that you have some serious misgivings putting it back on the market through HIM.  A week to get back to you?  No.  Perhaps he's busy.  Fine.  He can use that as an excuse if he wants.  However, you don't need someone working for you who is so busy that he is unable to devote the needed time and energy toward selling your house or communicating with you.

And point out that a lot of things in the real estate market are time sensitive.  What if he receives an offer for your house, but doesn't inform you of it promptly because 'he was busy?'  The offer could fall through while he's not communicating with you, which essentially would cost you money.

And now that I'm typing all of this out, I don't know that I would give him a second chance.  He has shown that selling your house isn't a priority for him.  At all.  (A week to respond to an email about needed repairs???)  Because even if you bring all this up, what's he going to say?  'I'll do better next time.'  And then he may be better....for a little while.  But what about when he gets busy and uncommunicative again?  Then you're back to square one, with him.  Sure, you could list it with someone else at that time, but that opens a whole other can of worms.

Selling a house is different than buying a house.  Perhaps he's a really good buyer's agent, but not such a good seller's/listing agent.

(Can you tell we're in the middle of moving? ;)  And our real estate agent texted us....that's how we found out we got our new house!  But he did it with details, and always answered calls and responded to emails pretty quickly.  So it can be done correctly, but it's obvious that John doesn't know how to do that.)

GSNW

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 01:11:04 AM »
I agree with what people have said previously.  You are paying this guy for a service, and your demands certainly don't seem unreasonable or uh... well, demanding.  Let us know how the conversation about communication goes.  It will probably help John to understand that not all clients will be okay with his preferred methods, and he needs to accommodate that.

checkitnice

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2013, 05:31:50 PM »
The first realtor we attempted to use did this.  I fired her, and she went nuts.

That behavior drives me crazy.  I posted here about it, because I was having similar issues.  I would send an email with several questions and only get a one liner back.  Her excuse?  "I was driving."  Lovely.  At least she got back to me in a timely manner.  I wouldn't put up with the lags that you're experiencing. 

heartmug

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2013, 12:19:02 PM »
The first realtor we attempted to use did this.  I fired her, and she went nuts.

That behavior drives me crazy.  I posted here about it, because I was having similar issues.  I would send an email with several questions and only get a one liner back.  Her excuse?  "I was driving."  Lovely.  At least she got back to me in a timely manner.  I wouldn't put up with the lags that you're experiencing.

We hired a lawyer who did that.  I would ask 3 or 4 questions in an email and he would respond to one of them not mentioning the others.  I finally wrote and said "I have to wonder how carefully you read things, which is something I expect of a lawyer."  He apologized and got better after that.

Our realtor asked us, upon signing the contract, how we wanted to be contacted (email, text or phone calls).
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

Lynda_34

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Re: Real estate by text
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2013, 12:13:03 AM »
Communication is changing and no matter what your age you (general) need to accommodate that. 

I have texted about a half dozen times, I find it difficult and tedious.  My sister texts all the time because it is easier for her to pull her cell phone out, read a text and continue on with her work. (We are both over 50)

I had an insurance issue, called three times over three days.  No one answers phones anymore.  Maybe they want the message so they can take it and prepare an answer for the person who made the inquiry.  I gave up and e-mailed my concerns,.  Received a reply within a half hour, letting me know the inquiry had been forwarded to other people.  The next day they got in touch with me via e mail and the concern was resolved.  So three days by phone, or less than 24 hours with e mail.

I compare this to the change from Pony express to the US postal service and Western Union. 

I have a sister in law who doesn't even have access to a computer.  (Yes she's over 50 also).  She manages but the world of technology is leaving her behind.

When I was a child, back in the 50's my mother heard from my grandfather every two weeks in a letter. (snail mail). We visited them every two years.  We were in New England, they were in the deep South. 

My daughter and I, different states in New England, communicate with my granddaughter in Virginia, (she's 18 months) on a regular basis.  She's going to grow up knowing us both and we get to see her grow and change on a regular basis thanks to Skype.

Back to topic, your real estate agent isn't helping you.  Find someone else even if it is awkward.  Congratulate him on being so busy  and that because business is good you will help someone else out who isn't as busy and has the time to devote to your needs while helping to boost the economy.

Good luck with selling your house.