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Why home buyers call the listing agent despite having a buyer’s agent

When a buyer strays

Today I got a call from one of my agents who showed houses to a buyer who bought with another agent. It stinks when you have a buyer who calls another agent from a sign, or who buys a property when you’re out of town… or a seller who doesn’t renew your listing contract after you’ve worked your hardest to sell the property and they’ve ignored your advice.

You must remember that it’s not personal, it’s business. Someone sits in front of a new listings, staring at the sign and if (a big if!) they call you, and you don’t pick up, they hang up and call the number on the sign, right? We say they don’t “get it”–that we’re working hard to find them a house, sacrificing our nights/weekends and family time, why can’t they just be loyal to us? Why can’t they wait 30 minutes or three hours or a day for us to call them back and get them in the property? Why do they call the listing agent???

Why aren’t buyers loyal?

Why? Because they DON’T CARE about us. Big revelation — right? They care about THEM. They want a house and they want/need to see that new listing they spotted now. Before it’s gone.

Even if they like us and treat us like friends (or we ARE friends!) their motivation to find a house drives them right now. Erica didn’t pick up her cell phone? (Maybe I’m with another client, or at the doctor’s office, or in a dead zone…) Oh well, call from the sign and get the price. Yes we want to see it, can you get us in?

They don’t MEAN to hurt us, they just want what they want NOW.

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Discovering a parallel with retail

I’ve known this in my brain for ages, but it was driven home when I went computer shopping. I needed a new computer. Old house computer is fried (spent 2 days getting my data off it and I’m thrilled I got that far). So off to Staples I go. I have a Dell account and normally order online, but I wanted it NOW and I wanted to set it up over the weekend.

I went right to the computer department, where an elderly salesman was helping a young guy with his computer choice. You’d think the 16 year old would be lecturing the old man, but no! The kid had no clue. So I hung around the area for about 15 minutes, playing with the models and narrowing it down to two. He gave this kid 100% of his attention (good customer service for the kid!) and didn’t even notice I was there. Just as he sent the kid on his way, with a box, another person asked him a question and off he went with her. Again I hung close by, waiting to catch his eye–no go. Another 10 minutes and I had figured out on my own which of the two I wanted. Give me the box.

So I went to the cashier and told her I wanted a computer off the shelf and knew which one. She paged computer guy. He responded he couldn’t help as he was with a customer now. She looked at me like I must be stupid! Can’t I see he’s busy? I told her I just wanted to buy one and knew the model if she’d send someone for the box. No can do. Seems there’s only one computer guy who can do that.

I waited another few minutes, stood in front of the model I wanted and waited for him to take his time explaining all the features of every computer on the shelf to a woman. I’d had it.

I picked up a few jump drives and went back to checkout. The girl NEVER ASKED if I found what I wanted or why I didn’t have a computer. She just rang me up and I walked out.

Back home, I went to and in 15 minutes had purchased a more expensive model than I planned to at Staples. I didn’t care. I will have it in 3-5 days instead of walking out of a store with it. I don’t care.

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I like Staples and order online all my office supplies from them. I stop by when I have to. But do I care that I bought a computer directly from Dell instead of the system I planned on buying in the store? Nope. My needs are met. Staples lost out this time.

Consumers don’t care who looses out

NOW… it’s not 100% perfect analogy. I’m not personal friends with Staples or their owner. I don’t have a relationship with Staples, not personally. I’ll still use them in the future, but don’t care if they lost out.

Think there’s a little relationship there to our buyers/sellers? They just want what they want, when they want it. We have to learn not to take it so personally. And we have to do everything in our power to show our clients that we are working hard for them, even when we cannot pick up the phone.

One technique I use is this: When I am with a new buyer/seller I keep my phone ON. If we’re at a table I put it on the table on vibrate. If I’m with them 1-2 hours, it’ll ring like 20 times! At some point, the person will say, get that if you have to. Then I say: Joe, my appointment is with you right now. After I leave here I’ll return all those calls, maybe even before I leave your driveway. But right now, you are my priority. If you call me and I’m with someone, I will call you back immediately after I am finished. That’s how I give all my clients full attention.

Then they GET IT. The lightbulb goes off and when they call, they’ll leave a message: I’m sure you’re with someone, so call me as soon as you can. They usually don’t hang up and call another agent, or don’t think I’m slacking.

The key here is you MUST MUST MUST return their calls promptly, or they think you truly are ignoring them.

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Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.



  1. Sara Bonert

    October 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Google Voice transcription (while certainly not perfect, but free) texts me my voice mails, helping to prioritize which are more urgent than others when in meetings. Also, I like it because I can easily respond via email or text to a voice mail.

  2. Ryan Schattner

    October 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Great Article! Lately when I miss calls the client just ends up texting me with questions. Lets me respond fast no matter what I'm doing.

  3. Matt Fuller

    October 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Did you walk out of staples because you didn't get immediate gratification or because you were feeling ignored and taken for granted?

    My clients are willing to leave a message for me, but like you say, they need to know I'll return it promptly.

    In my experience, most buyers are pretty loyal. But anyone – regardless of industry or price point – will walk away in a heartbeat if they feel taken for granted or ignored.

    Nice article,

  4. Karen Nathanson

    October 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I think most consumers want instant gratification. It is important to always return calls promptly but this won't solve every case. Give the best customer service always and hope your customers appreciate this.

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