Ghosting in Real Estate: How Not to Let it Haunt You

You’ve met someone who seems to be the perfect client. They’re pre-approved for a mortgage, they know what they want in a property and your initial meeting went well. Then it’s like they fell off the face of the earth – you get no response to emails or text follow-ups, and you never hear from them again. You’ve been ghosted.

No longer confined to the dating world, ghosting seems to be cropping up everywhere, including in real estate.  

There are a few possible reasons. Some people may find it inconvenient to make a phone call or they could be overwhelmed by their options during their home buying process—and ultimately there aren’t very many consequences for ghosters.

Some prospective home buyers can suffer social anxiety or fear face-to-face confrontation. They don’t get back to a REALTOR® because they want to avoid the awkward chat if they decide to not to proceed with a property, especially if that’s because a lender told them they couldn’t afford it.

James Boschman, a salesperson and REALTOR® in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was on a call with 40 industry professionals in which they talked about ghosting. He says younger REALTORS® who are not adept at communication can sometimes cause ghosting to happen to them more frequently because they haven’t built a connection with prospective clients.

“Social media is a great way to build trust, but a lot of agents in my generation have a hard time starting a conversation,” he says. “They need to become better public speakers.”

Boschman says having a brother who is 18 years older than he is and a father who was in car sales helped him learn how to spark conversations and relate to others.

“It comes down to the art of conversation,” Boschman says. “People are a little scared these days, afraid to offend [and suffer from] that fear of rejection, paralysis by analysis. But once you start, the barriers will come down. Real estate is not just selling houses. This is a people business. You must understand how your clients want to communicate with you and meet them where they are at. You need to ask the right questions.”

On Episode 28 of REAL TIME, we’re joined by James Duthie, one of Canada’s favourite sportscasters, to explore one of the most personal tools of the real estate trade: conversation. Hear James’ approach to sparking meaningful conversations at work and in life – with examples from throughout his career (the good and bad). From breaking the ice to broaching sensitive topics, learn how REALTORS® can use conversation to build stronger relationships with their clients. Listen now.

Social media can be a double-edged sword. People who grew up on it are unlikely to connect with REALTORS® who aren’t active on social media. At the same time, people are increasingly protective of their information and wary of unwanted digital communication.

“I think that [prospective buyers] get the impression that if they give away their information that they’re going to get spammed,” says Adam Keith, a salesperson and REALTOR® in Ottawa, Ontario.

Like Boschman, Keith believes the onus is on REALTORS® to help prevent instances of ghosting. He says he rarely gets ghosted because he’s learned how to communicate effectively face-to-face, employs a laid-back style, especially at open houses, uses technology like client management software to communicate strategically and follow up with clients in a professional manner, and makes sure he responds quickly whenever people reach out to him.

Janice Fox, a broker and REALTOR® in Toronto, Ontario, says ghosting happens more than you would think, with financial issues usually at the core of why a client might drop off.

“An experienced REALTOR® has hopefully learned their lesson early in their career with respect to this,” she says. “When dealing with a new buyer client, the most important question to ask is, ‘When would you like to be settled into the new place?’  When the buyer has a timeline or deadline, then that is a high-priority customer.”

REALTORS® can scare off ghosters by getting to know their prospective clients, says Katherine Minovski, a broker and REALTOR® in Unionville, Ontario. She says it’s important to ask them if they’re already working with a REALTOR®, get to know their needs and wants, have them get pre-approval for a mortgage if they don’t have one, ask about their lifestyle and what motivates them to purchase, and never push a sale on anyone.

If, despite best efforts, you get ghosted, it’s better not to dwell on it, says Jacqui Rostek Holder, a REALTOR® and salesperson in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You may never learn the reason why.

“It isn’t productive,” she says. “If a person I thought was an enthusiastic buyer shies away, I will communicate with language like, ‘Since a bit of time has passed since your initial viewing, I’m wondering if you have lost interest. If so, no problem at all, but if you do have interest and would like more information don’t hesitate to ask.’”

Ultimately, real estate is transactional and needs to serve both parties.

“Respect is key on both parts,” Minovski says. “Help if you can alleviate concerns prior to any purchase. But know your worth and your time is valuable so set any ground rules at the beginning of your conversations. If you are getting nowhere, are they a good client to continue to pursue or is it time to call it quits?”

Ghosting says more about the ghoster than the ghostee, so don’t take it too personal. If you’re making a concerted effort to connect and communicate with prospective clients, you can walk away knowing you did your best to serve them.

Have you ever been ghosted by a prospective client? How did you handle the situation? Tell us in the Comments.

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.

2 thoughts on “Ghosting in Real Estate: How Not to Let it Haunt You”

  1. It’s NOT a new thing. What is new is labelling everything and calling it “something” It’s called ghosting Now used to be called ignoring you. All part of real estate and many careers & businesses. Create the relationship and give your best to everyone you work with, and the results will follow.

  2. I may be getting ghosted right now. First timer here. My client is elderly, so I just hope it’s a matter of a change of heart and feeling embarrassed to tell me, and not a medical emergency. Not knowing is the worst. I’m exhausted from thinking about it. Letting it go now….

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