Active Rain March 18, 2009

Why I Don’t Answer Blocked Calls

When you drive past a car with windows tinted so dark that you can’t see the driver, do you get a slightly unsettled feeling? Does that feeling get worse when they drive aggressively or erratically? You get the very real feeling that their anonymity emboldens them. I see it on the Internet as well, especially when screen names supplant real names. It is just far easier to tell me I’m all wet when your name is SuperDude99 and not Seymour or Denise.

By far, the most troublesome case of anonymity to me is the phone call from “restricted” or “blocked.” “Well,” you might say, “just another real estate guy ducking my call.” If I know it is you, presuming you are a client, I wouldn’t duck you. I don’t bite the hand that feeds me. What I can’t take time for is the police chief guild’s business directory, the serial number of my copier, the guy halfway across the world who’ll make me the top google result, and the neophyte investor calling me for the 4th time about flipping a stale MLS listing he can’t seem to grasp is not a good deal. This is not a sometimes thing. It is a daily barrage.

Real estate brokers have bullseyes painted on our backs for soliciters. If I run an ad in the paper or Craigslist, I can set my watch by the people who “call about the ad” only to try and sell me another ad in their paper or website. Of course, I do get the blocked calls from consumers, who feel that if I see their number that their privacy is invaded, ask a few questions about a listing, and then hang up. Those are not what I’d call hot prospects. These are not rare events, they are chronic and persistent. If you consider your time valuable, mine is too.

At any given moment, I could be in the basement of a winterized house shivering through an inspection, having a client in pre-foreclosure crying on my shoulder, or a hundred other things that require my full attention. Few things are above interrupting, however, and I do return voicemails, but knowing who is calling helps me decide if I should retrieve a message, ignore a nuisance, or bring my sick child home from school right away.

It isn’t lost on me that calling some agents is like entering voicemail hell. I call them too, and I share the frustration, believe me. I’m not one of those agents. I ask clients unblock their numbers (*67 I think) so I know it is them. If you want to reach me, I hope you’ll understand that your chances are better if, when you knock on my metaphorical door, that I ask who it is before answering. I would afford you the same courtesy.