The Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as “the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date.”  Another source defines the term as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”  Ghosting occurs often in business relationships too.

My friend, Career Coach Angela Copeland of Copeland Coaching, refers to the phenomenon in a recent blog post Ghosting: The dating phenomenon hitting the job search world. It’s not just something that is happening in the job market. It doesn’t seem uncommon these days to see the same thing happen in good faith business relationships. In the real estate business, new agents as well as seasoned brokers continue to be shocked by disappearing clients.

Here’s the type of ghosting we see in real estate. A potential customer calls you about listing their home, but they are not quite ready.  You help with the early preparation by recommending vendors and staging suggestions; you provide market analysis, and then again a few weeks later; discuss marketing strategies and possible list dates.  You are communicating every few days, texts calls and emails. Then NOTHING. Then you see the house listed with another agent.  Losing a listing is a fact of life in the real estate business.  I have probably lost as many as I have listed.  What I don’t understand is why it is so hard for a prospect to just say they have decided to work with someone else.  Why turn a friendly, open relationship into, well, the sounds of silence?

Home buyers do the ghosting thing too. You show some houses, help them find a mortgage person, set them up for listing updates, stay in touch almost daily, then, poof, they’re gone. At this point, some agents would point out the power of the written buyer representation agreement.  My response is, how many clients have you sued for ghosting after they have signed the agreement?

Bottom line: All sales oriented people are used to rejection. If you don’t want to work with your agent anymore, for any reason, just text, email, or, if you are really bold, call them and let them know.