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Mom, I Need to Go To the Bathroom Right Now! Can You Hold it For 3 More Miles? Yes.

I was just on a 2-day road trip with my 2 sons (ages 5 and almost 13). We drove from Portland, Oregon to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Without fail, I would come up on a rest area and ask, “Does anyone need to use the bathroom?”

Nine times out of ten, the answer would be, “no.” … So, I would keep driving. Not 5 miles later I hear, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom, right now!”

“Can you hold it for 3 more miles?”

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So much for urgency.

After about 8 scenarios just like this, I began to realize that the “hold it” rule can apply to real estate. (No, not the “I have to pee so bad, but will check ONE more email before making a mad dash to the restroom” kind of “hold it” rule…)

As a real estate agent it seems like everything is an absolute urgency.

Reply to this email. Call this Seller. Print this flyer. Answer the phone. Answer the phone. Answer the phone. Write this blog post. Answer this question. Yell at this person. Read this other email. Blah Blah Blah.

Sometimes I get so scattered, bouncing from one unfinished urgency to another unfinished urgency and really get about nothing done in the process.

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After noticing that even my kids’ (and my) bladders could hold out for just a little bit longer, I realized that maybe 90% off all the things that I (and my clients’ and other agents and even husband) think is oh-so-urgent really could wait just a little bit so that I could finish some of the things that I started before the “urgency” popped into my life.

Maybe I would actually get more DONE if I applied the “hold it” rule more often.


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Written By

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?



  1. Maureen Francis

    April 23, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Mariana, recently I have been laughing (in my head) about the “real estate emergency.” They are exactly what you are talking about. There are very few actual real estate emergencies, yet we agents tend to respond like most everything is urgent. Gotta go…a client just text messaged me…

  2. John Lauber

    April 23, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    One of the best lines I heard is “There really is no life threatening real estate”. Sometimes you can “hold it”. Most people will understand that you’re not waiting by the phone for their phone call, etc. Contract dates, “time is of the essence”, but most emergencies, may not be. Gotta go, the wife is calling.

  3. Jon Sigler

    April 23, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    John said it right, there is no life threatening real estate. What we have is emotion from all parties. Buyers and sellers are selling both their largest investment, but also “home”. The professionals (Realtor, Loan Officer) often are talking about a months worth of income on one transaction which will create the same “emotion” of needing it “right now”.

  4. Mariana

    April 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Maureen – You are right, there are very few actual “real estate emergencies” …

    John – Even “time is of the essence” can have a 10 minute buffer, and other items can have a longer buffer.

    Jon – Sometimes the agent who rides their entire monthly income on one deal WILL see each little thing as an emergency, but I don’t think that most items are a real emergency.

  5. Jennifer Rathbun

    April 23, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Amen! Boy do I agree!

    And yet…

    And yet, I often wonder what is taking so long for other agents to call me back? Why are lenders taking so long to make a decision? Where is that form from my clients that needs to be signed? Patience is good. But at what point does it become prolonged? And in your example of a bathroom break, when does it lead to an infection from waiting too long???

  6. Mariana

    April 23, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Jennifer – There is definitely a professional responsibility to be timely and available. However, in most cases the professional responsibility covers 10 minutes to an 1 hour-or-so without being that “unavailable” agent.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    April 23, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    I like the “Touch it once” theory, but it seems to not apply to Real Estate. Too many directions and too many people tugging at your coat tails.

    As frustrating as it can be at times, I think that good agents really do feed off that energy involved in handling priorities. However, everyone has their limits and it’s good to have a relief system in place for when you’ve had enough.

  8. Teresa Boardman

    April 24, 2008 at 5:15 am

    You are dead on. Many of the emergencies are not emergencies. I have some clients right now who could run me ragged but I have explained to them what is and what is not an emergency. 🙂 If you think about it there really isn’t such a thing as a real estate emergency.

  9. Late Night Austin Real Estate

    April 24, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Sometimes I feel like there are two groups of agents. Those of us that run around frantically all the time worrying about not responding quickly enough. And then agents that respond several days later if at all. I guess the trick is finding the happy medium.

  10. Benn Rosales

    April 24, 2008 at 8:38 am

    are we there yet?

  11. Aria Schoenfelt, Austin Real Estate

    April 24, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Running any kind of business takes great skill in prioritizing. Growing up as a child of a Real Estate family, I’m a big proponent of priorities after taking a back-seat to clients and their so-called emergencies. There is a huge difference in treating a client fairly and kindly and spoiling them rotten!

    When you get an urgent task, prioritize and don’t feel bad for waiting an extra 5 minutes to keep on your current task (and to keep your sanity!). In the long run, I find that I’m more productive this way.

    Of course, I did take an ‘urgent’ work call at 11pm last night. There are exceptions to every rule!

  12. Vicki Moore

    April 24, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Sitting here now – having to go to the bathroom – I’m lauging out loud. Love your observation!

  13. Mariana

    April 25, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Matthew – I have been in various professions, and it seems like real estate has way more pseudo-emergencies than anything else I can think of.

    Teresa – I am still trying to find out whay IS a “real” real estate emergency… Have yet to find one.

    LNARE – A happy medium would be great.

    Benn – Yes. Finally.

    Aria – “Growing up as a child of a Real Estate family, I’m a big proponent of priorities after taking a back-seat to clients and their so-called emergencies.” I really, really, REALLY do not want MY kids saying this … EVER.

    Vicki – Thanks!

  14. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 7, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    My last client was looking at $1.5M homes and the wife was a stay at home, beside the pool and play golf wife. This was her description, not mine, and it was accurate!

    So, needless to say, she had way too much time on her hands. With said time, she would call me with anything that was going through her head. After a month of this, I started to know the routine and started slacking on my response times.

    So she started leaving voicemails AND following that up with text messages. Not one single topic in two months was ever an emergency, but she thought it was my duty (or something) to immediately respond to her at all times.

    Sometimes ($1.5M) you just suck it up and give ‘em what they are whining for. ?


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