A real estate agent recently received a firm response after soliciting a homeowner’s business, to the effect of: “I am not selling. Please don’t call me again.”

How should she have responded? Respect the homeowner’s wishes and move on, most agents agree. But there are a number of ways to sign off tactfully, perhaps even while sowing seeds for future business.

Read through our list of five responses to “don’t call me” — which can be expressed verbally or as a written response, whether you’re answering via phone, text message or email.

Which align most closely with your business goals and ethics?

1. Move on immediately

Buzz off if you’re asked to, many agents say.

“If someone is happy in their home and made it clear they don’t want you to contact them, why would you antagonize them?” asked New York City-based licensed real estate salesperson Stacey Raiman Simens, commenting in the real estate Facebook group Lead Gen Scripts and Objections.

Lenox, Massachusetts-based associate broker Anne Meczywor recommends the succinct sign-off: “I’m sorry to have troubled you.”

Keep in mind that bugging someone who wants to be left alone comes with an opportunity cost.

“Move on,” says Shane Kuhns, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based agent. “The time you spend on this can be spent following motivated leads.”

Also remember that you will reinforce negative stereotypes about agents if you use pushy sales tactics.

2. Be funny

But a polite goodbye isn’t your only option. Depending on the circumstances, some agents might consider injecting a bit of humor into mix.

To risk an eye-roll for a chuckle, they could could drop a one-liner. A couple thrown out in conversation were:

  • “So you are telling me there’s a chance?” (a reference to the movie Dumb and Dumber)
  • Agent: Not now or not ever? Homeowner: Not ever. Agent: Ever never?
  • “How about now? :) “

via GIPHY

Of course, jokes come at the risk of being taken the wrong way — and some agents recommend keeping your sarcasm to yourself — so choose wisely! You could always add a smiley and a “JK, thanks for your time!” perhaps making the exchange a tad more memorable.

3. Mention potential buyers (if you have any)

Another tactic: Make mention of buyer clients looking in the homeowner’s neighborhood — if you have them, some agents say.

This creates at least a remote chance that the homeowner will bring up a neighbor who is thinking about selling, either immediately or in the future.

Leona Greenlow-Turner, a Danville, California-based agent, suggests tapping a “never mover” for insight, so you can relay it to buyer clients.

4. Ask for referrals

In taking your leave, it might not hurt to mention that you welcome referrals, some agents say.

Jessica Harper, a Rome, Georgia-based agent, suggests asking if the homeowner is aware of any neighbors interested in selling before “peace-ing out” with:

“I’ve got some buyers that are very interested in the neighborhood. I’m sorry that I bothered you,” she recommended saying. “Have a great day!”

Or there’s another, more roundabout way to express gratitude while positioning yourself as a resource. Georgia-based Realtor and coach Mike Stott offered up the following script: “Thanks I owe you a favor — if you or anyone you know ever has a question about real estate shoot me an email or call and I’ll repay that favor!

5. Send a thank-you letter

Thank-you letters — which, in this case, might be perceived as a polite and thoughtful apology — can telegraph character — not a bad way to be remembered. Some agents also recommend following up with print marketing.

“As soon as I hung up[,] I sent a notecard,” said New York-based agent Patricia McKeon Kutil of speaking to homeowners who expressed no interest in selling.

The note would read something to the effect of: “Thank you for taking the time to speak to me, I am glad to hear that you are happy in your home. If your needs change in the future please don’t hesitate to call.”

Then Kutil would send about six mailers per year, such as daylight saving reminders, holiday wishes and tax grievance information.

“I did list one of those ‘never movers’ after about three years of mailing,” she said.

This article was originally published on March 2, 2017.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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