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Are you happy that they called? You’d better let them know before they call someone else!

Your phone is often your first connection with a potential home purchaser or seller. I know some agents who will dive across the room, put their body through contortions and stop conversations mid-sentence to answer their phone. After all, the ring of the phone can lead to the ring of the commission cash register. Or perhaps these Olympic phone grabbing REALTORS realize that their voice-mail messages are so bad that they better catch the caller live.

It’s time to change your outgoing voice message. “Hello. Please leave a message,” just doesn’t cut it in this business. Yet call most agents and this is what you get.

Same Old. Same Old.

I’ll never forget attending a live Jeffrey Gitomer sales seminar in D.C. when Jeff lambasted the 100s in the crowd pointing out that 90% of American workers have the same lame message on their voice-mail. Okay, repeat after me and say the mantra:

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“Hello. I am either on the phone or away from my desk. Please leave a message.”

During the break, I noticed scores of people scurrying about and calling their voicemail and changing it!

Hundreds of thousands of real estate professionals are missing a multitude of opportunities with their voicemail messages. You might even be losing business. You’ll never know who failed to leave a message, visit your website or inquire further solely because of your monotone “Hello.”

Call me on the line.

Call me call me any anytime

Need some help? Go ahead and give me a call.


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703-626-0715 (sorry, no toll-free number). If I pick up, we might have a nice chat, but call back and listen to my voicemail. Or, you can save your minutes and just keep reading.

“Hello and Thank You for calling Brian Block with RE/MAX Allegiance. The Building Block of Your Real Estate Goals. I am sorry I cannot take your call right now but leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as possible. Also, please take a look at my website at for the latest listings and to search all Virginia and D.C. real estate. Thank you for calling and have a great day!”

This may seem basic, but my experience with calling other agents all the time (and for that matter, most other businesses) shows me that very few people use voicemail properly.

Voice-mail 101

Let’s dissect.

Identify yourself. Most people do do this. However, from time to time I’ve reached a number and never hear the person’s name or company in the outgoing message. Clearly state your name and company at the beginning of your voicemail.

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Thank people for calling. They called you. Unless it’s the IRS or possibly your mother-in-law, you’re gonna wanna thank them. People like to be appreciated. That caller on the other end of the line could be a buyer or seller who’ll put tens of thousands of dollars into your pocket this year. It may be an agent who wants to show your listing. Thank them. And do it with a smile and enthusiasm. You want them to know that you’re excited that they called.

Be memorable. “The Building Block of Your Real Estate Goals!” A simple slogan. Many people and companies have them, but do they use them and promote them? It’s something small but it can mean a lot, especially when others hear it repeatedly. The receptionist at my RE/MAX office has heard my voicemail enough times that, literally, every time I walk into the office, she says “Here comes Brian Block, the Building Block of My Real Estate Goals!” It’s kinda cute. I can only hope that my clients recite this phrase out loud or at least to themselves as they go about their day. You want your clients (and even your competition) to be going around town repeating your slogan.

Tell them what you’ll do. “I’ll call you back soon.” And then do it. More business is lost because agents don’t call people back, or don’t call them back soon enough. And please, please, please, if another agent is calling you, return the phone call. Ugh. This is a pet peeve of just about every agent out there.

Give them something to do. A call to action. While they’re waiting for you to call back and the opportunity to talk to your highness, send them to your website. You’ve paid for it. That 24/7 marketing tool — your website. Now, drive them there. And tell them what to do when they get there — look for listings and search for homes. Simple, easy instructions.

Thank them again. Callers are the lifeblood of your business. Make them feel that way.

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What not to do

Now, for a few things not to do on your voicemail:

Don’t change the message every day to say, “Hi it’s Tuesday, February 17th…” People know what day it is.

Don’t tell them what you’re doing. “Hi, I’m in a meeting from 10 to 12. Having lunch with Steve until 1 p.m. and showing property this afternoon. I’ll call you back at 4:30.” First of all, nobody really cares about your detailed schedule. And secondly, you’ll never call them back right when you told them you would. Finally, what happens when you forget to change your voice message the next day?

Never Never Never Leave the standard factory voicemail. Your voicemail needs to be in your voice… not some computerized lady. Also, having your British accented friend Charley record your message or having an outgoing message from your wife is not a good idea. People called to talk to you. Give them you.

Now, go. Go change your voicemail. Stop reading and do it. It just takes a minute.

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Written By

Brian Block practiced law until he heard every single attorney joke and decided becoming a real estate broker was a more fun way to earn a living. Proud of the plaques and diplomas adorning his office wall, he's even more proud of his marriage to a beautiful and talented ballroom dance teacher and fellow entrepreneur. Every day, you can find Brian, doing what he does best – advising Northern Virginia home buyers and sellers. If you want, you can follow him on Twitter @blockrealestate.



  1. Ken Brand

    February 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Voice Mail messages are an oddly tricky thing. Personally the long ones frustrate me. I’m in hurry, I want to talk to you or quickly leave a message.

    I shy away from an “apology”, I avoid the word “sorry”, which implies I’ve done something wrong so I wouldn’t say, “Sorry I missed your call…” or variations. I would say it in the affirmative, “I wish I was here to take your call….

    Mine is super short and not everyone’s cup of tea but here it is = Hey, this is Ken Brand, making real estate smartly simple, please leave a message and I promise to return your call as quickly as possible. Thanks.

  2. Missy Caulk

    February 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Brian, I like them short and sweet too. I use to say I would call back between two different times, let me know which is most convenient.

    A broker in town trying to recruit me was laughing at it. I will put in on again in the summer.

    I like Kens’ idea about not saying I am sorry. More positive the other way.

  3. Michelle DeRepentigny

    February 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I keep my pretty short and simple, the only time it is longer or I give details is if I am in a conference or cont ed class and know I’m going to be out of pocket for over an hour at a time…then I let the caller know it’s going to take me a little longer to respond but they are welcome to text me or email for a quicker help or call my assistant.

  4. Dan Connolly

    February 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I like messages short and sweet, upbeat and to the point. When someone gets long winded, I usually start poking keys trying to bypass the message. (It frequently gets me disconnected and then I have to call back).

    Slogans, and calls to action have just not ever been my style. I know it works for some but I am not comfortable with it. Maybe giving the web address and/or email address might make sense but for me, it would have to start with “to bypass this message press one…”

  5. Melina Tomson

    February 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I also don’t like long messages, but the one you wrote would be fine.

    Some of the people who do the By Referral Only program have some long messages that I hope pressing 1 lets me bypass.

    I do give out my email and encourage people to send me one if they need a faster response.

  6. Marvin Jensen

    February 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Brian, I think this is a great idea! I was getting ready to change mine, then I read the comments, they have good points. Maybe I will dress up my boring voicemail, but make it short too!

  7. Thesa Chambers

    February 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Very true and you know my voice mail is not what it should be… will be changing it tonight… thanks

  8. Brent

    February 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I especially liked the advice not to update your voice-mail greeting every day with an explanation of why you can’t take a call – and the reason that no one really cares about what you’re doing all day. So why waste time with Twitter too? For the life of me, people who addicted to such nonsense need to get a life!

  9. Edwin Estes

    February 19, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    And never say you return calls at certian times (i.e. between 8a-9a and 4p-5p) of the day; you are only inviting the caller to contact another agent instead of waiting hours for your return call.

  10. Yolanda

    February 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Brian

    I have been through quite a few phases over the years with my voice messages and based on client feedback felt that short, sweet, Professional and to the point works very well. You input was very good, I will pass on to my agents.

  11. Barbara Scarbrough

    February 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I have more clients call me and say they can’t believe a “human answered”. I actually receive a lot of business this way.
    People want answers when they call. They don’t want to wait until you are ready and able to answer their questions or address their needs or wants. Some even forget the address of the property they were sitting in font of by the time you are able to call them. I answer all my calls or have someone there to answer for me at all times. I don’t like voice mail and I think most people feel the same way. My clients are impressed when I excuse myself during their listing or showing appointments to answer questions on a call. They see I am always available for their home’s marketing that way. They also see I am available if and when they may need me also. So for real success, answer your phone and forgo the voicemail!

  12. Ritu Desai

    February 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Brian, great article. I do use my email in the voice message and receive lot of emails but always prefer to return that phone call.

  13. Scott Grebner

    February 20, 2009 at 9:13 am

    A lot of local agents have a personal message with an apology for missing the call then the factory phone message kicks in. Leave your personal message without the apology and deactivate the factory message.

  14. Jolynne

    February 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    While I agree with the concept, it I had to listen to that LONG sales pitch every time I wanted to leave a message, I would hang up. Short and Sweet.

  15. Leah

    February 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Brian, I like your advice, but I too like short and sweet. I like the idea of asking them to visit website I will use that idea, as well as putting my slogan on there.

  16. Brian Block

    February 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I did just time my voicemail and it clocks in at 22 seconds. Most repeat callers these days know that on most cellphone voicemail systems you can bypass the message by pressing “1”

  17. Brian Block

    February 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    By the way, the suggestion for not apologizing (i.e. sorry for missing your call) is a very good one. Thanks Ken!

  18. Connie

    February 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I think your message is too long. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called an agent and HAD to listen to a lengthy message EVERY time – it became very annoying (and almost unprofessional in my opinion). If I have to listen to that EVERY time, I’m sure an agent’s clients or potential clients could get annoyed by it also. Quickly mentioning the website isn’t so bad but I’d have to listen to that every time also.

  19. Chris Fyvie

    February 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Changing it right now… and now that I think of it, you’re right… the same old voicemail is extremely frustrating… particularly when you hit # and it goes to password instead of skipping the message.

    Thanks for the tip.

  20. Sharon Evans

    February 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I love the message you gave us. I cannot stand to hear an agent say to everyone that “if it is after 7 pm they will call you the next day or if it is on a Sunday they will call you on Monday”.

  21. Sharon Evans

    February 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    How do you put a picture in the comments area?

  22. Donna Thigpen

    February 23, 2009 at 7:06 am

    My pet peeve is a message that says that they will call me back at their earliest convenience. How narcissistic is that??!! They could at least say they will call back as soon as possible.

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