We use email everyday to conduct our real estate business, so we thought it appropriate to share these excellent email tips that will help you in your daily dealings with others in the world of real estate. A good email can make a lot of difference, so take a look at these email tips and see where you can improve your emails, so you’re communicating effectively. And don’t forget, these email tips don’t just apply to real estate or business emails – these are practical tips and generally recognized “netiquette” for all emails, whether business or personal (although personal tend to be a bit less formal).
Email Tips and Best Practices
Sender and Recipient – Because of the confidential nature of much of the email we send regarding real estate, the recipient and sender should always be clearly communicated in your email. Often, multiple people have access to email and computers, so being clear about who you are (sender) and who the email is intended for (recipient). Start your email off with a salutation to the recipient (ie, Hi Paul) and always utilize email signatures (in which you should include your name, company name, phone number, and fax number). Don’t leave the recipient guessing who sent them the email.
Subject Line – Use the subject line to define what the email is in regards to. Use property addresses in the subject line, along with a descriptive phrase to define the content…and don’t be afraid to update the subject line as the email chain evolves. The better the subject line is defined, the easier it is to find the email later when looking for something specific about a particular transaction. If every email has the subject line of “123 Main Street” you’re going to need to do a lot of digging to find one particular email when you need it.
Content – Be direct and concise in your emails. Be definitive. Start your email with a brief sentence identifying the parties involved in the communication (ie, “I am the agent representing the buyer of 123 Main Street”). Your main content should clearly define your purpose in sending the email. Use paragraphs and bullet points to break up the email and make it easy to read. Try to stay under 200 words. End your email with a brief conclusion, reiterating the goal of the email. Remember, being clear about your intentions makes for more efficient email and removes the need for follow up emails with questions that could have easily been answered in the original email.
Who Are You? – While you may think everyone should know exactly who you are, who you work for, and what it is you do (are you an agent, a lawyer, a CPA?), not everyone recognizes your name immediately. Again, this is a time for clarity, even if it seems like overkill.
Attachments – Include any relevant documents for your email as attachments. Remember, not all email addresses can accept large files (a typical rule of thumb is to stay under 10MB for file sizes). Make sure the attachment is in a common format (send someone TIFF or BMP image files is not a good idea, unless you’re emailing them to a graphics professional). Adobe PDF rules the roost when it comes to documents – most computers these days have the ability to print to PDF. Do not send documents that are financially sensitive in formats like Microsoft Word (doc or docx files – these can be edited and therefore present a risk of fraud or forgery). If you have a large set of files, consider using an archiving tool to put them all into a .zip file – this will also save some file size.
Courtesy and Tone – Emails can often feel abrupt and a bit commanding. Remember what your mother always taught you – use words like please and thank you. A little friendliness goes a long way, particularly in a tense negotiation or discussion.
Formal Demands – If you’re making a formal demand, put it in writing and forget the email. While we all use email constantly, if you want it to stand up in court, you’re better off putting it in writing and getting appropriate signatures.
Answering Questions – If you receive an email with multiple questions, it’s often useful to quote the sender first, then answer below that question. Then move on to the next question and do the same. It can also help to use bold or colors to separate your responses, but remember, some older email applications may not pick up the text adornments. Just be sure to tell the recipient what you’ve done to separate the text so that they are clear as to what to look for in the email.
image courtesy of Esparta
this post is based off of an article by David J. Willis, a Houston real estate attorney