How to win ‘REALTOR®’ friends and serve your clients

Being polite, or courteous, is something most of us probably learned in kindergarten (if not before). Does playing nice in the sandbox ring a bell? Or sharing toys with your classmates? Perhaps most important is treating others how you’d like to be treated. This simple ideal of being courteous is drilled into our heads at a young age – and essentially forms the basis of successfully conducting business and building relationships in the real estate industry.

How you interact with others in the real estate industry is referred to as a ‘professional courtesy.’ This is defined by the philosophy of a particular behavior or etiquette that’s extended to members of the same profession. Courteous behavior is something that can’t be forced upon or even policed. However, it can and should be discussed, explained and encouraged to make the real estate industry better as whole.

Courteous behavior can be expressed in one’s actions or communications. Professional courtesy in the real estate industry can extend to email etiquette, being punctual for showings, or even something as simple as removing your shoes in a listing. 

The courtesies real estate professionals extend to each other are a crucial component of cooperating in the real estate industry. Being courteous of other professionals and clients improves communication, builds stronger relationships and instills trust. Clients and colleagues are both more likely to be favorable toward someone who displays thoughtfulness and courteous actions. This concept even extends to the office as a pleasant workplace results in higher functioning, more engaging and happier employees.

A lack of courtesy results in a negative reputation, difficulty building relationships, and ultimately affects business. Speaking rudely or forgetting to return phone calls will not result in greater rapport with fellow agents; it will undoubtedly cost you business. There’s little to no positives that result from showing a lack of professional courtesy.

Courtesy is ultimately showing a respect for others – and we all deserve that from each other in the real estate industry.

Do yourself, your colleagues and your clients a favor and brush up on this common courtesy checklist!

Common courtesy check list for REALTORS®


Show it anytime! They know their house is listed!!
Have a confirmed appointment before showing any property. Record the date, time and person who gave confirmation. Record this information in your showing log.

Always arrive early, you’ll impress the seller!
Arrive on time for showings. Don't be early. Occupied homes may have owners preparing to leave. On vacant houses, other appointments may be scheduled.

Don’t call. We all know real estate people run late!
If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late for a showing, please call the listing salesperson and/or office to notify the seller of your tardiness.

Make yourself at home, use the telephone!
Do not use the telephone in someone's home or business without prior permission! You never know when a telephone may be programmed. Use your cell phone.

Tell them all the bad news about their listing!
Please have the courtesy to let another agent know the good news about a showing, as well as the things that need attention. No listing can be all bad!

Leave the lights on and leave the doors unlocked!!
No. Not really! Make sure that all lights are off and doors are locked.

The nearest bathroom is at my office, no one will know.
Never use a bathroom at a listing unless it is marked “public." Make sure your clients know not to use the bathroom either.

Low ball every offer — feel the seller out!
Courtesy is that you should be a professional who knows the market value of property. Make offers that reflect value and not "low" balls.

List them as high as we can and hope they will still sell!
Again, courtesy is that you should be a professional who knows the market value of property. List property that reflects market value and no "high" ball price.

Let everyone in your company know of your new listing first. Great rewards for “house” deals!
Remember, you should treat all agents the same. Follow MLS rules and the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. If you are working for your seller, you will want to give the utmost exposure.

Personal contact is not important in deals anymore. We have computers, faxes, cell phones, voice mail to help communicate.
No machine or mechanical devices can take the place of human interaction. Real estate transactions are human transactions!


Thank goodness for voice mail! It helps cover for me!
Check voice mail regularly and return phone calls timely.

No phone call is so urgent that it can’t wait!
Separate urgent calls from those that are not as important and act accordingly.

Call REALTORS® later when you’ve got time!
Confirm receipt of contracts or other important messages.

As long as I have fax confirmation, I know the co-agent got it!
Notify the co-op agent anytime you are communicating regarding an offer.

Deadlines don’t mean anything in this business!
Pay close attention to timeliness and follow up with all the details from beginning to end of transaction.

There is too much paperwork and too many regulations!
Always convey a positive attitude.

Fill out only the important items. It’s okay to leave blanks.
Make sure that forms and contracts are legible and properly written.

Whatever you do, don’t let them talk to each other!
Encourage communication with our clients, lenders and title companies.

Ignore any problems, they will go away!
Address problems immediately.

You’re gone. Put everybody on hold until you return!
Ensure that your business is covered by another agent in your absence.

Take all the credit for sold!
When a home is sold, it would be informative and polite to mention both the listing and selling agents' names on “Just Sold” cards.

Courtesies are only necessary in your own office.
Practice professional courtesies to all others.

Checklist compiled by the Columbus Board of REALTORS® Communication Committee, 1999.