Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Email or Phone? What do Internet Consumers Want?

Email or Phone? What do Internet Consumers Want?

I received an internet lead in October of 2005.  It turned out that the owner had just bought the house a couple of months earlier, in August.  I grunted a little, but sent him some information anyway because you just never know.  I sent him listings on a monthly basis and also had him on an automatic drip campaign for once a month contact.

Some time in 2006, he emails me asking me to update his email address.  Why not.... I guess that means he's looking at the emails and listings, so I updated his information. Click to view clipart

In May, I received an email saying he wanted to meet with him because they were thinking about selling.  He travels a lot so several appointments were canceled and rescheduled.  Honestly, I thought he was a flake. He then suggested that I meet with his wife since his schedule is so busy.  I tell him that I don't like meeting with just one spouce and that we should just meet the next time he's back in town.  Reluctantly, I ended up meeting with the wife without him. 

While talking with the wife, I learn that they're being relocated and will be moving July 14.  What??  That's in 3 weeks!!  I leave her my market information and tell her to call/email me with any questions or concerns.  I received an email from the husband later that day thanking me for meeting with his wife and he appreciated some of the suggestions I had made and they were going to buy paint that night.

Two weeks ago by and I don't hear from them.  On Sunday, I emailed him asking when I could come over to have him sign the paperwork and get a key from him so I could list it.  He emails me back saying Thursday morning.  I ASSUMED THE LISTING AND IT WORKED!!

I got there this morning and we spoke.  He signed the listing agreement and such, and I put a sign in the yard.  Then, I had to stand there and say, "I know we've been doing a lot of emailing back and forth, but can I have a contact phone number for you, especially since you're leaving the state?"  We both chuckled and he thought it was funny that we had never spoken before this morning.telephone8542.gif

So, my question to everyone is, do you think the phone is really that important, or are you more like me where email is your main form of communication with your clients and potential prospects? 

Comment balloon 24 commentsDonna Harris • July 12 2007 02:35PM


Internet customers do not disclose their telephone number till they are ready to meet you. I think they prefer communication by email.
Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 11 years ago
It's a good question.  I frequently communicate with my buyers by email while I seem to communicate directly (by telephone) with my sellers.  I didn't realize that until I read your question and it seems rather odd.  In looking back, most of my buyers are younger and "wired" while most of my sellers are older and seem to prefer the use of telephone.
Posted by Ross Willingham, Realtor Associate (Tomson Real Estate) over 11 years ago
I use email probably more often than the phone. I think most of the folks I work with prefer it that way. We still get the communication accomplished and at the time that is most convenient for them. Of course, if it is urgent or necessary the phone is used. Congratulations on your success!
Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 11 years ago
I have found that email works best for me.  I can stay in touch with more people on a consistent and regular basis with email.  The majority of my business is internet based and many times I have contact with people and don't even have their phone number.  The larger your database grows it becomes increasing more difficult to use the phone.  I have some customers that are strictly phone people so those I will call. I have found the internet consumers want to "window shop" until they are ready for action.  I try to stay in touch via email so they know that when they are ready they can contact me.
Posted by Kimberly Grant, Real Estate Agent - Huntsville Alabama (Exit Leon Crawford Realty) over 11 years ago

Gita, Thank you for your response, and I agree.

Ross, Thinking back, I would be in about the same boat, with younger buyers and older sellers.  Typically, as soon as I know their time frame, I ask for a phone number so we can discuss things further with words instead of typing.  This guy never made me feel like he wanted nor needed to pick up a phone, and I didn't realize I didn't have a phone number until I typed up the listing agreement...

Gary, I completely agree, thank you.  I love waking up to emails and knowing that I can respond whenever I want because if they emailed at 1 am, they're probably still asleep when I'm up and I can respond at my convenience.

Kimberly, Yes, I talk so much that I can follow up with many more people via email than I can by talking.  I talk and talk and talk, and a 5 minute conversation typically takes 20-30 minutes... lots of wasted time!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 11 years ago

I'm a little old fashioned.  If they have given me their phone number, I use it.  I also make certain they have my cell number.  I feel like most of the prospects I meet will respond to a good schmooze call a lot better than an email. 

And I guess it's different if it's just a vague internet response and someone I've actually met.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 11 years ago

It depends on the client, but I prefer email for the simple fact that it leaves a record of communication.  I'm also big on texting updates back and forth. 

Although when dealing with an active client, I do think that it's important to talk on the phone at least once a week.  

Posted by Andy Kaufman, East Bay Sales & Investments (Better Homes & Gardens Mason McDuffie Real Estate) over 11 years ago
I definitely use e-mail more often.  Many times potential clients will e-mail back and forth with me for ages until they are actually ready to move and then it is them that picks up the phone and calls.  Most of my active clients also prefer communication by e-mail as well.
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 11 years ago

Email almost 100% of the time. I do meet with them once to preview the home, but then I email the CMA, the listing etc.

I got a call yesterday and a guy wanted to buy a house NOW. Well, I said, Sir wouldn't you like me send you some listings by email?"

No, I  want a house, not email. Ok, so I referred him out to a agent in my office. All my Buyer Agents were out on appointments and I was not going to jump up and show this guy houses.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 11 years ago
I think it just depends on the person. I prefer to do as much online as possible. But I like technology and I work with it every day etc. But I don't think most people are like that yet. I think most people still would work by phone. Even most real estate agents are still not into using technology that much. I think it is certainly picking up more and more, but there are still people out there with their index cards and rolodexs. So I think its best to be prepared to do both.
Posted by Angie Vandenbergh, A Crye-Leike Blogger (Crye-Leike, Realtors) over 11 years ago

Hi, Donna!

As Gita stated, Internet customers do not want to give their phone numbers until they are really ready. When we get Internet leads with phone numbers, I send them an email saying that we respect their privacy and if they do not want a phone call, please email me back within 24 hours to let me know; otherwise they can expect a phone call from me the following afternoon.

With existing clients or referrals, we ask which they prefer. There are some people out there who really do prefer the phone. And while that is not my preference, I try to make that work - it takes a lot of effort, since a lot of the emails I send are late-night; it's difficult for me to remember to call someone! But I put it in my calendar to remind myself! =)

~Maura Gebhardt

Posted by Maura Neill, North Metro Atlanta Real Estate (RE/MAX Around Atlanta) over 11 years ago
whatever the clients want. as a mortgage elder all of this techy stuff is something i've had to adjust to, but those who insist on email contact only are easy to deal with and i love creating written records.
Posted by Jay Beckingham, Seniors ROCK! ( American Advisors Group...AAG) over 11 years ago

Most of my communication is via email.  My clients prefer it that way, I prefer it that way, and, like Andy, I like to have a written record of who said what when, not only for evidence but so that, with increasing "senior moments", I have a record for myself of what I said I'd do!  That's one reason I love Jott so much - written records are Good Things. 


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 11 years ago

Great story! I was just thinking about that today... I think it has to do with individual preference. My parents still prefer calling but I much prefer the internet. Also I may not be able to stop and take the call because I am on the job site staging, but I can always check emails via blackberry and filter them by importance when I get 2 seconds. It just depends. But I am very happy to hear because of your persistence and follow up and everything works out! :)



Posted by Cindy Lin (Staged4more Home Staging & Designs // EcoJoe) over 11 years ago

Patricia, Your answer reminded me of my mother.  Whenever I send her an email, she picks up the phone to respond.  I tell her about the "reply" button but she thinks it's easier to say what she wants to say rather than typing it out.

Andy, I just started texting a couple of weeks ago when I got my first pda phone (treo 750).  Right now, it's just for friends and family.  I haven't texted any clients.

Brian, That the majority of mine too.  I make sure they have my direct number so they can call at any time, and I wait for them to make the move, unless I feel it's urgent.

Missy, I am not a "pop tart" Realtor.  I'm glad you didn't jump just because he called.  Even if he's a serious buyer, you jump once, he'll expect you to jump each time.

Angie, wow, I haven't had a roledex since corporate world about 7 years ago... they still make those things?

Maura, I hired a VA a couple of weeks ago to do my phone follow up.  I thought maybe if someone called instead of just email, I might get more clients, but thus far, email has been great, and I'm waiting to see results from the phone calls.

Jay, with an online loan application, you can do just about everything via email these days.  You never have to meet or talk with a buyer.  I wish I could sell a house without leaving my desk/couch!

Tricia, what is Jott?

Cindy, as I mentioned above, my mom rather pick up a phone and call.  However, my step-father really likes email and prefers that... my mom acts like she's in the 65+ age group who doesn't know technology, but she's only 53.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 11 years ago

Hi, Donna! I'd be interested in hearing how you like having a VA. It's an idea we've toyed with in the past.

~Maura Gebhardt

Posted by Maura Neill, North Metro Atlanta Real Estate (RE/MAX Around Atlanta) over 11 years ago
When two busy people need to communicate, e-mail is much more efficient. There are times, though, when hearing voices and inflections and having a common conversation make the phone very valuable. I think you need a combination of both.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 11 years ago


Very funny post!  I can definitly empathise with you on this topic.

As a former engineer, I ALWAYS prefer emailing to calling.  I had to remind myself when I became a REALTOR that not everyone was like me, and many people need that face time -so to speak.  Calling can be so much more time consuming these days.  I think people have more of a sense of a task being completed when it is in email.....a question being posed, will be answered, etc.  Not just leaving a message and hoping someone will remember after they hear it to call you back!


Posted by Jeannette Morrison, Central Texas Real Estate, NW Austin, Round Rock (Cedar Park,Leander,Georgetown & Lake Travis Areas.) over 11 years ago

Donna, Jott is something that I learned of here on AR.  It has a lot of capabilities that I haven't even touched on, but basically you go to their website, register your email and cell phone, and then program their phone number into your cell phone.  You're driving around or out of pocket and have an idea, you call Jott, speak to them, and when you get back to your computer, what you said has been transcribed and emailed to you. 

I sort the Jott emails into my Jott folder and when I have a moment sort them out into the appropriate areas.  I used to carry a little recorder to catch those ideas/things I need to do, but I had to go back and forth on the recording getting them and transcribe them myself.  This eliminates all that. 


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 11 years ago

I think that clients have different styles that they respond to.  I try to call if they give me the number, but if that isn't comfortable for them I stick with email.  We are working with a diverse group and a one size fits all approach won't do.

Posted by Chris Tesch, College Station, Texas Real Estate (RE/MAX Bryan-College Station) over 11 years ago

I do a lot of communicating by email. I know it is impersonal, but I like how Outlook tracks our conversations.

Great story.....

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

Sharon, yes, inflection is important.  I've had people get mad thinking I typed something rude, when all it was was sarcasm...

Jeanette, my husband is an engineer.  He works from home a lot and his office is downstairs with mine upstairs... we email back and forth all the time.  He's too lazy to come upstairs or yell that he needs me down.

Tricia, I'm going to have to look into that, thanks!

Chris, True, very true...

Tom, Thanks!!  But you can also get a lot more personal information via email.  Some people feel more comfortable typing their socials rather than saying them over a potentially recorded phone line.

Maura, it's only been a couple of weeks, so no real results yet, but I like watching my activities list shrink some days which tells me she's in my database right then.  She likes making the cold/warm calls so more power to her.  I hate making the calls, so any 1 piece of new business I get from what she's going is going to pay her salary for the entire year!  I have her only making phone calls, not usual VA stuff like CMAs and flyers and website or anything like that.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 11 years ago

Email or phone that is the question ??

For email

1/  opportunity to leave long messages for clients and edit the content before you send it (can't do that with the phone/answering machines).

2/  a record of what you said/they said.

3/  depending on your clients email settings the ability to be notified when or if they actually read/receive your email.

4/   not quit as obtrusive as phone client gets to read and respond at their convenience


Against email

1/   can be somewhat impersonal but does not need to be

2/   not instantaneous communication.

I am sure there are many more

Posted by Kathy Clulow, Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) over 11 years ago

When a client e-mails me and leave me their contact information with a phone number, I consider that a lead that is a little warmer than one that hasn't. I send them the same information, but after two days, I make the call to make sure they are receiving it and to ask further questions.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) over 11 years ago