When Should I Call My Agent?

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Novice house-hunters, here's one thing guaranteed to give your real estate agent gray hairs: Start driving around neighborhoods you like and calling on the 'for sale' signs you see—by yourself. We understand: You're trying to be proactive. But if you're worried about wasting your agent's time, don't be.

Agents often work with buyers in the very early stages of looking for a home. Sometimes buyers have several potential neighborhoods on their list. Part of a real estate agent's job is to help buyers narrow their selection. To do this, an agent might take buyers on neighborhood tours, send email listings targeting particular areas, and spend time either on the phone or in person discussing parameters and defining wants versus needs.

So, if you spot a 'for sale' sign and want to know more or see the property, you don't need to call the listing agent to get information, because that's why you have hired an agent. For buyers, keeping your agent in the loop prevents procuring cause problems. For sellers, calling your agent about other listings prevents misunderstandings; besides, it's against the REALTOR® Code of Ethics to solicit another agent's listing.

How Often Can I Call My Agent?

When a buyer or seller asks "Should I call my agent?", the answer is always yes. Most of the agents I know welcome calls from their clients, regardless of frequency. We are in , and that means taking care of our clients' needs and addressing concerns as they come up.

Of course, calling your agent 10 times a day is not recommended. But things often move fast in this business. If you're in the middle of intense negotiations, or an emergency has arisen—perhaps you are down to the wire on closing and paperwork is missing or an unexpected popped up on the title work—those circumstances warrant more phone contact.

Establish a Communication Plan Early

After you decide to engage an agent, discuss how, when and how often to communicate. Set up the parameters in advance. You and your agent can decide on one or all of the following methods:

  • Daily or weekly telephone updates and conference calls.
  • Email. Again, you can ask for regular updates, or just email-on-an-as-needed basis.
  • Text messages. Best for confirming an appointment or short conversations.
  • Voice mail messages.
  • Face-to-face meetings. It's often easier to handle complex situations in person.

Some agents don't answer their cell phones and they return calls once or twice a day at certain times. If that behavior is unacceptable to you, either work out a different schedule with your agent or find another.

Reasons to Call Your Agent

No question, if it bothers you, is unreasonable. Here are a few topics that a home buyer or home seller might have questions about, but any type of real-estate related question, even if it doesn't fall into one of the following categories, is important.

If the agent doesn't know the answer to one of your questions, he or she will find the answer for you.

Home buying and/or home selling should not be a painful experience, nor should any buyer or seller ever worry about calling an agent. Remember, you're the client, so you set the expectations.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.