JL's Columbia SC Real Estate Blog: A Text Can Convey a Message. Not a Tone.

A Text Can Convey a Message. Not a Tone.

Columbia, SC Homes for Sale  I recently had a deal that I was working, representing a buyer, and in the process of setting up inspections I sent an email with all the times and days for each appointment to the listing agent. When the market was slow, I used to be able to schedule all the inspections for the same day and close to the same time to get everything over at once, but these days with everyone being so busy, that is often times not the case. That being said, the listing agent replied that she received the message and she would contact the sellers and let me know what they had to say. I received no reply until the morning of the first round of inspections and then it was simply a text stating I was good to go for inspections but per the seller we had to leave the premises by a certain time or we would simply have to reschedule the inspections. I informed the inspectors when they arrived that the seller needed us out by a certain time and everyone was able to finish up with no issues and we were all gone with time to spare.

 Columbia, SC Homes for SaleNo harm no foul in this case, but to receive a message at 7am, 2 hours prior to the first inspection that we had to be gone by a certain time could have come off as a little hostel. Especially considering that there had been 48 hours notice that the inspections would occur at this time. That being said, I am not one to over react and I was sure would could be gone in the correct amount of time.

 Upon arrival at the house, we found the seller's partner still at the house and she was under the impression she had to be there to let us in and had to remain there during inspections. Her concern and need for time restraints was based on needing to retrieve a child from school and needing to leave in enough to do so.

 I am sure that somewhere this topic has been discussed more than once, but a text and an email can only convey a message and not the tone of the message in question. The text came off as a little rude when simply stating that they wanted us off the property in a certain time range, but in all truth teh seller's partner was just worried she would not be able to pick up a child on time due to her believing she had to be present to let us onto the property.

Columbia, SC Homes for Sale  When faced with these situations it's best to  remain level headed and not overreact to what you see as a rude text or email and take into consideration that 9 times out of 10, there's usually just a simple misunderstanding. Don't get me wrong, that 10th time, someone may be a real jerk, but that's usually not the case.

  So when you are faced with delivering a message that could possibly be taken out of context, you may want to pick up the phone and use it to call rather than sending a text. Deals have been broken by far less than a perceived slight and your tone means a lot especially if you are delivering bad news.


JL Boney, III - Columbia, SC Realtor - Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

 I specialize in Columbia, SC real estate and the surrounding areas, including Blythewood, SC, Kershaw County, Fairfield County, and Lexington, SC. If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in Columbia, SC or any of the surrounding areas, I would love the opportunity to speak with to see how I can help. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me if I can be of service to you.

Office- 803-788-1450     Cell- 803-730-9601     Email- James_Boney@Yahoo.com

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Comment balloon 25 commentsJL Boney, III • June 05 2018 07:12PM


That's great advice, JL! Sometimes it is better to pick up the phone, rather than send a text or email. Especially, in cases where it's important and time sensitive. Thanks for sharing your blog!  

Posted by Chrystal Safari Roy, Luxury Property Specialist (Real Estate Realty LLC - Charlotte, NC) 9 months ago

So true. I agree with Chrystal, "Sometimes it is better to pick up the phone, rather than send a text or email."

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) 9 months ago

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Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... (garaughty.com) 9 months ago

Although texting is the preferred way to communicate these days, especially with millennials, text messages can be misinterpreted by both parties. When discussing important aspects of a real estate transaction with a client I always like to do it with a phone call or face to face.

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 9 months ago

I blogged a post today which jigsaws nicely with this one you have written.  It is about texts and emails instead of face-to-face or voice communication.  Much can get lost in translation with texts and emails.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 9 months ago

I guess that's why they invented emoticons... and I see they are an option here as well.  

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) 9 months ago

My mother once told me (God rest her soul) that if you are upset, never to write a letter.  If you do, do not send it for awhile.  Reconsider everything and do not write in anger.

She also said that face to face communication was the best.  Not telephones, not letters even.  (no texting at the time she said this but obviously that would have been worse).  She said one cannot understand the meanings and intentions of another unless face to face.

I think she was right.

Of course we cannot run a business like this always but we have too often used abbreviated and quick messaging (much misspelled in fact) to answer important questions and other matters that should be handled perhaps in person, or even by phone.  AMAZING when you actually HEAR someone's voice how much more nuance is detected!  

Posted by John Henry, Residential Architect, Custom Home Design (John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc.) 9 months ago

if someone sent me a text at 7 am they'd be SOL if I needed to look at it that time of day.  I start at 9.  

But you are so right that you infer "tone" from words, but it's often wrong.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) 9 months ago


This is such a great example of the importance of effective communicatiion - not only what is said, but how and when. Yes, texting and email is easy but it's often NOT the most effective, nor the best method.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) 9 months ago

If you need more than 160 characters in your text, best use email or call direct. Text messages IMO should be concise, brief and to the point, yet, how the message is received to determine it's tone or emotions could only be perceived by very sensitive people, however, it's not the tone but the close of a business transaction that is the ultimate goal, isn't it? 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) 9 months ago

JL- you are absolutely on target with this one. Letters put together to form a sentence miss a very important part of communication...the tone. And it becomes to easy to get your knickers in a wad and take it the wrong way. I love what John Henry's mom had to say. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 9 months ago

I agree!  Gotta step back and not over react.  Think twice also before sending very long texts of a personal or angry nature!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) 9 months ago

Professionalism at all costs! Be the class act. Great post and reactions!

Posted by Gary & Melynda Wolter (CRS) 480-269-1164, Relentless, Reliable, Premier Personal Service (eXp Realty) 9 months ago

This is so true and so relevant in our business today. So much of our communication is either text or emails and not face to face and can be misunderstood very easily. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the feature 

Posted by Joyce Marsh, Luxury Market Specialist, Million Dollar Guild, CLHMS, CNE, SRES (JOYCE MARSH REAL ESTATE COMPANY ) 9 months ago

In the end in regards to anything: It's the "spirit" behind it all

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) 9 months ago

Good morning JL Boney, III, text messages are great for communication but should never take the place of a conversation. Just pick up the phone. Great post! 

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) 9 months ago

Pick up the damn phone. How hard can that be? Rhetorical question. Apparently pretty difficult. Yikes.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) 9 months ago

That's why so many texts have all those punctuation marks (!!!) after each line.

Other than using an emoticon, it feels friendlier

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) 9 months ago

Congratulations on a geat featured post! Text is fine for some reasons, such as, informing the other agent a confirmation about an appointment. But when it is important and you want to be perfectly clear, pick up the phone and call or email, leave VM with specific information and communicate, communicate, communicate. I find that TEXT is like sending off the fire alarm when in fact, there is not fire to begin with. 

I have never heard of any Inspectors in my area who would be told by the seller without prior notifications to get out by a certain time. That's just plain rude and unacceptable. Buyers are entitled to a home inspection and in TX contracts, it is spelled out well that it's a buyers right. All inspectors that I've worked with understands sellers have commitments and they don't mind if Seller has to be home. Also, here as I'm sure in other states, they are licensed, bonded, and insured with key access. I have never heard of an Agent telling someone to get out if they aren't finished and reschedule because the seller said so. That's very rude.  

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) 9 months ago

Great reminder!  We also don't see the same reaction for those looking for information if we ONLY text them!  Sometimes it takes an actual conversation.

Posted by Eleanor Thorne, Equity Resources 919-649-5058 (Equity Resources) 9 months ago

I try to limit my txt messeges to things such as, I just sent an email for you to reply to.  I will meet you at....

Tone is difficult to determine from a txt.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) 9 months ago

There are some things that just need to be face to face or voice to voice.  I agree that text can be convenient, but it is usually better to call and clarify their need for constraints.  As you found out, it was lack of education on the part of the listing agent to their client that was causing the constraints and it could have been alleviated without putting any stress on the seller.  Great post.

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) 9 months ago

Indeed, Texts and e-mail can not replace face to face or a phone conversation.

Posted by Mott Marvin Kornicki, Waterway Realtors, Notary Public 786-229-7999 (Waterway Realty, Realtors® • Broker • South East Florida •) 8 months ago

I really think it's the LA's problem as she didn't convey enough info to the seller or there wouldn't have been that text. Poor seller is just worried about picking up the kids at school. No one even told her that she didn't need to be there to babysit you.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) 8 months ago

Great advice...no need stirring up trouble where there doesn't need to be any. We have enough misunderstandings going on these days!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 8 months ago