Don’t Hire a Friend for your Agent
Remember the old precaution, “Don’t mix business with friendship?” Well, there is no exception when considering the selection of a real estate agent.
This is not to say an agent should not be one who you have used before or one you are already familiar with. The big concern is conducting business with an individual where there is a deep rooted long-term family friendship that you would not want disturbed.
First, you must consider that there are questions that involve a financial intimacy that most people would not feel totally comfortable sharing in a friendship environment as they might in strict business confidentiality. Most people would not want their personal circle of friends to know how much they pay in taxes, how much they have in savings or their past years’ gross income.
Equally difficult might be holding your line in the negotiating process, feeling some sense of embarrassment to the extra effort you are imposing on the agent that you would not otherwise feel. As a seller, you may change your mind and withdraw your home from the market, or choose to hold firm to you price; but, when dealing with a friend, or worry that your friend may hold it against you that he or she worked hard without ever earning a commission.
In other cases, your friend the agent, may feel uncomfortable taking a complete commission and may feel obligated to give you a portion of his earnings back. When that is the case, there is often less motivation on the part of the agent, so his or her attention may not be as heavily focused on doing an outstanding job.
I know of a recent case when an agent offered to list his friend’s house for free and only charge three percent for the agent bringing in the buyer. As a result the seller/friend truly got what he paid for - nothing. There were no open houses, no ads, no press releases and only one caravan. The agent basically stuck the property in the multiple listing service and sat there waiting for someone to bring him a buyer. In the end, the property sold for less than it would have had it been listed with an aggressive broker that regularly used a proven marketing plan. The seller felt obligated to his friend for the generous favor and yet resentful for selling at below what other property sold for in the neighborhood.
In short, it was a bad scene. The agent worked for free and felt and felt he had done his friend a favor. The friend undersold and had to keep his feelings to himself in hopes to preserve the relationship. Neither could comfortably face the other knowing that there were hard feelings between them that neither was comfortable to talk about.
In closing, trust my 30+ years of real estate experience and keep your friendships exclusive of business. A true friend should and will certainly understand why you’ve chosen to do so. In selecting an agent, either get a referral from a reliable source or seek an agent with a reputation for honesty and knowledge and one who is an expert on your neighborhood.