Top 5 Excuses Why Real Estate Agents Don’t Return Phone Calls

Xavier De Buck
Published on July 27, 2016

Top 5 Excuses Why Real Estate Agents Don’t Return Phone Calls

Top 5 Excuses Why Real Estate Agents Don’t Return Phone Calls

agents dont return phone calls

Real Estate Agents Don’t Return Phone Calls!

Real estate agents don’t return phone calls.

Isn’t that one of the most frequently-heard complaints by home buyers and home sellers alike?

Lack of communication on the part of the real estate agent ranks top of the list in survey after survey!

That on its own is quite ironic, given a real estate agent operates in a relationship-focused industry, yet has the worst service reputation of them all!

There’s no doubt about it: callers sometimes have better odds of winning the lottery than actually getting their phone calls returned!

Whether we’re talking about beginning or experienced real estate agents, they are all getting inundated all year round with ‘how to’ seminars, courses, DVD’s (tapes anyone?), self-study books, presentations and trainings on a huge variety of real estate related topics!

(Funny to see that customer relationship management (CRM) software courses seem to be a very popular choice!)

How about we put everything aside that we’re being taught on all sorts of real estate topics, and let’s go back to the very basic of (professional) education:

Someone calls the real estate agent with a pertinent question or enquiry, but for whatever reason the agent isn’t able to immediately answer the phone, however, the agent makes a note to return all missed phone calls at the first available opportunity.

At the end of the day, if someone took the time and effort to contact the real estate agent, why the heck would the agent not want to return that call?!


Even though quite a few real estate agents will eventually give their missed calls a ring back, unfortunately there will be substantial numbers of agents who will never bother.

It’s a fact: real estate agents don’t return phone calls!

You might recall this hilarious video advertisement from a few years ago, depicting a real estate agent who’s literally dodging one of his clients (and her phone calls as well, I’m sure!).

Imagine him being your real estate agent: I don’t think it will be that funny anymore!

As with any other business environment, real estate agents get busy and are not always able to pick up their phones; whether they’re in a client meeting trying to explain how the home buying process works; or negotiating important contract specifications with a slew of attorneys, home inspectors or any of the other real estate professionals.

Perhaps we ought to go deeper and ask ourselves the following:

Real estate agents don’t return phone calls because the way they market themselves might be at the base of the problem?

What is actually happening “behind the scenes” that makes real estate agents don’t return phone calls?

If anything, real estate agents are quite infamous for not return phone calls!

Wouldn’t you think that basic communication is part of the things to expect from a real estate agent?

As a real estate agent myself, I have first-hand experience of:

(1) how other real estate agents treat you as a fellow real estate professional, as well as clients; and

(2) how I’ve been determined from Day One to stand out from the real estate crowd by providing a professional service!

And how easy do you think it actually is to pick up the phone and get back to all those enquiring clients or other real estate agents?

[Related article: Why I Love Real Estate (And You Should Too!)]

Now imagine how these people will be impressed if the real estate agent not only gives them an initial phone call back, but also follows up on that call a few days/weeks later?!

Based on what I see happening around me, I have taken the liberty to split these “communication interruptions” into 5 major excuse categories as to why real estate agents don’t return phone calls:

Here’s the overview:

And now read below in further detail how these 5 excuses manifest themselves:

Excuse #1 — Clueless office rookie

We all have them in the office: that new trainee guy in the corner who started only a week ago, and has barely been exposed to any of the real estate manuals, trainings, ethics course work, legalities etc.

Given the high turnover of real estate agents, that will unfortunately remain a constant in the real estate industry!

And of course, he barely knows how to handle an incoming phone call!

(you’d think in this day & age with all these youngsters and their cell phones, that they would at least know how to properly do that!)

Anyhow, it is what it is.

With the (office) front desk secretary busy on a couple of other lines, this trainee thought to help out a bit and answer this incoming call which has been ringing for forever it seems!

Of course, this happened to be your call on this awesome house you saw earlier today!

Surprise, surprise!

He had no idea which property you were enquiring about and to make things much worse, he didn’t pay close attention when he wrote down your contact details!

So your call did get answered (but not by the real estate agent who you’d hoped to talk to), and regrettably, you’re unlikely to hear back from the real estate agent.


Excuse #2 — General “For Sale” sign

agent phone calls

Just don’t expect a call back any time soon!

You’re phoning the number that’s on the “For Sale” sign outside the property, thinking you’ll immediately be speaking to the real estate agent, but you end up at someone from the office switch board instead!

This person may (not) be present at her desk when you call, briefly stepped off the desk to grab a quick coffee or smoke.

Or, she had her hands full already, trying to juggle 3 other incoming phone calls.

(and this time around, our rookie agent friend isn’t there to “help out” either!)

Either way, whichever the case, it is a potential recipe for an enquiry being lost, as your call didn’t get answered in the first 30 seconds, so you decided to hang up.

And all of this because you were informed to call the number on the real estate agent’s “For Sale” sign!

Great help there! Pfff!

Excuse #3 — Super-busy office manager

As it happens, the front desk is having quite the busy day (as these things do happen at the more popular real estate companies), and the super-busy office manager decides to carry his weight and jumps in to answer a few calls!

Including yours!

You’re happy to give him all your contact details, and he assures you a real estate agent will return your enquiry phone call.

He now needs to decide which real estate agent present in the office might be able to help in the next few minutes.

As he’s trying to make up his mind whether Mary or John might do a better job, his (late) 3pm management appointment just walks in, and they start to chitchat as they’re heading towards the conference room.

By now, the office manager places the note with your details aside, as “he’s about to give it to an agent”, and as enough time goes by, he ends up forgetting to pass the note on altogether!

Best case scenario, he’ll hopefully ‘wake up’ a few hours later and get an agent to call you back!

Excuse #4 — Wrong time of the day

agents phone calls

Who are you again? Oh, I never return your phone call!

On your way back from the late night movie, you drive passed a “For Sale” sign outside that dream house of yours!

It’s back on the market?!

Let’s immediately call the real estate agent to secure a viewing appointment, and hopefully you’ll be able to put in an offer to purchase the house shortly after!


However, for some odd reason, the real estate agent is not picking up your call?

So, you immediately call another agent in the area, who has helped you before, and who will now make the necessary happen for you to go view that property!

If that first agent didn’t have time for you, it’ll be his loss and you just end up working the deal through another agent!

Unreasonable request or justified reaction?

Excuse #5 — Mystery of the lost voice message

Perhaps you realized that 10pm on a Friday night might not be the most suitable time to get a hold of that real estate agent, and as the phone goes to voice mail, you then decide to just leave him a voice message.

He can then get back to you in the morning, no?

As you get his voice mail, you leave a detailed message telling him exactly why you’re calling, yet forget to leave your phone number!

Or worse, in all your excitement, you do leave your 10-digit number, but rattle it off in 2 seconds flat!

Good luck to this real estate agent trying to decipher that one!

Closing thoughts

I’m sure there are quite a few more excuses we could list here, but it would mostly come down to the following: we tend to hear just part of the story; the part where the real estate agents don’t return phone calls!

Don’t take me wrong here: 

I’m not trying to justify as to why real estate agents don’t return phone calls!

I’m merely citing a few examples (read: excuses) I have encountered in person over the years as to why certain real estate agents don’t return phone calls!

Yet another reason why picking the right real estate agent is critical in the home buying or home selling process!

Okay, let’s not be too hard on them: whilst I’m certain that some of the above-mentioned excuses have happened to most of us, how much of a coincidence would it be that all of those happened to the same real estate agents time & time again?!

As real estate agents, we try to get maximum exposure by getting our name / number / picture on as many marketing tools as we possibly can: websites, advertising billboards, “For Sale” signs, bus benches, etc. all asking to contact the real estate agent if you have any questions!

Yet, reality is quite different, where many, many clients tell us that real estate agents don’t return phone calls!


Obviously, I can’t speak for every real estate agent out there, but what I do know is that each and every agent will eventually miss phone calls over the course of the day, for any (or more) of the excuses cited above.

However, what I can say with certainty is that each of those real estate agents will now need to decide for themselves whether they’ll be returning those missed phone calls!

Makes you wonder if they ever regret a missed opportunity?

Perhaps some of those real estate agents ought to re-read Tip #9 I discussed in How to Ensure Success As A Real Estate Agent In 2016.

Feel free to share your personal experience when real estate agents don’t return phone calls!

Other Real Estate Agent Experience Related Articles:

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About the author: The above article “Top 5 Excuses Why Real Estate Agents Don’t Return Phone Calls was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

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