How many emails does it take to buy a house?

I belong to an agent oriented forum with 17,000 “participants”, many “lurkers”, from all over the Country and Canada.  I have been “speaking” there since 1998.  At least once a year a newer agent there asks the question: “What is the average number of emails per transaction?”.

Of course it is possible to go from start to finish with no emails at all, I guess.  Hasn’t been my experience, but I’m sure it is still humanly possible for that to happen.  Last year I had one that took close to 400 emails AFTER the transaction closed, to solve an after sale problem.  None of the emails were from the other agent in the transaction :-), though I did copy him on every email response to his client.  I was the seller’s agent.  I also had many, many phone calls and meetings, in addition to the 400 emails, and all turned out “well”. 

“Rule” is I can never contact someone else’s client in the transaction, but I must answer honestly, if that client calls me.  Usually I do tell them I will respond to their agent and their agent needs to be the one speaking with them.  But when they say their agent isn’t responding to them, I am left with no choice but to handle both sides until the matter is resolved.   I apply the same rule to email, usually.  I never email the other agent’s client in the transaction, nor do I copy the other agent’s client during the course of a transaction.  But if someone else’s client emails me directly, I respond directly, with a copy to their agent.  When you consider that those 400 emails were often directed to at least 6 people, that is 6 times 400 communications or 2,400 communications!

In my experience, the “average” transaction takes between 150 and 200 emails.  This is only my side of the transaction, so if the other agent in the transaction has the same experience, that would be 400 per transaction. Many of these copy multiple parties and only count as 1 email to 4 people.  Emailing escrow with copies to the other agent and my client, for example. This does include emails from the day I meet a potential client until the day they close on the property, and afterward if and as needed.  It does NOT include emailing property to them from the mls, as those emails do not show in my Outlook data.

Blogging is trimming down the number of emails needed to complete a transaction!  Since 1/1/2006, when I began blogging, I have noticed that many of my clients already know a lot more than they ever did in the past.  They already understand more about various transaction details, having read my blog before they contacted me.  I find they also read it during the transaction, and sometimes I direct a blog post to a specific issue at hand in a generic way.  This way I not only help my client to understand what is happening in the transaction, but the general public at large at the same time.

That being said, everyone, agents and consumers both, need to undersand that an email is “in writing”.  There are still times when I need to pick up the phone to say something that I am not willing to put in writing.  A good agent needs to know when to send a letter or a card by snail mail, when to email and when to pick up the phone.  Each of these communication mediums have their place in the transaction, and it is an art to know which to use when.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

4 thoughts on “How many emails does it take to buy a house?

  1. LOL. We are going to keep these interviews anonymous…but compared to the one I am almost finished right now, ? got almost NONE, relatively speaking LOL. Actually I just counted the ones I sent – 84 But some of those are recent and about the Sopranos and lasagna, the rug I think would look best in the new home, paint colors, etc…do they count?

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