With Friends Like These... Or Why You Sometimes Help The Most, Those You Help The Least

Real Estate Agent with I.V.P.G. - Inland Valley Professional Group

Hi All,

When we first start out in Real Estate, or pretty much any other "sales" type of endeavor for that matter, one of the places we are all told to go forth and mine for business is our "sphere of influence".  That loosely translates to your friends, co-workers, family and basically any other poor slob who happens to have had the misfortune of having given you an email address or phone number in the last 10 years.  And, most of us do just that, we gleefully set off with our shiny new license (or in my case my folded, spindled and mutilated one courtesy of the U.S. Post Office :-) safely ensconced in our broker;s drawer and we bombarded these folks with email, snail mail and any other contact form we can drum up to "let them know we're in the Real Estate business". 

And, while I am fully in support of telling everyone and their pet dog that you are henceforth a bonafide Realtor and are thus ready, willing and able to handle all of their needs both great and small, I also am of the opinion that the very place we are told to plant our garden may be the worst place to hope to be able to harvest the fruit.

Case in point...One of my best friends in all the world is currently in the market to purchase investment properties.  She and her hubby have been looking into SFR's, duplexes and triplexes all over the area with some degree of success.  I hasten to point out that I still refer to her as one of my best friends and not a client of mine.  Why?  Because we decided that our relationship with each other was too important to allow the possibility of a business deal interfering with it. 

The funny thing is that while she and I are fine with this decision, there are some others around us who appear to be in high dudgeon about it.  They have been spitting mad on my behalf, and have said so, about the fact that she and I aren't working together.  While I greatly appreciate their loyalty and concern I don't share their ire and here's why...

She knows that she is a very demanding client, a self described "pain in the neck" and I know she is a very demanding client (I would probably say it was a pain a little lower and more to the back :-) and we know that this could be a receipe for disaster.  Oh, we've tried to work together in other areas at other times in our lives, but we know where each others "buttons" are and it has been challenging.  We've been best friends since we were 13, we are really more family than anything else as a result, while we love each other unconditionally, we don't always bring out the best in each other. 

And this is not the only situation that I have encountered where a good personal relationship has not necessarily translated into a good business one.  In my other past business ventures I have tried to work with friends and family only to see what started out as a good thing for all concerned disintegrate into something professionally unfulfilling and personally damaging.  Friends are friends, family is family and no matter how smart, educated or capable the rest of the world may see you to be, to those in your innermost circle, your value is diminished.  And woe be unto you if you happen to tell them about a pitfall in their path, they ignore you and they fall flat on their face. 

As I see it, I am bound by a variation of the Hypocratic Oath, the part where it says "First do no harm".  I can't sit by and quietly watch while someone puts themselves in harms way, especially if I see the harm and they can't or don't.  I wouldn't do it with a client who walked in off of the street any more than I would if I had known them forever. 

But the difference seems to be that the client off the street wouldn't necessarily push me the same way that those who are personally closer to me might.  And, the folks that meet me in a professional capacity first, tend to be able to see me through their "professional lenses" and as a result, judge the value of my opinion based upon different criteria.  Probably because they don't look at me and see their 13 year old cohort or their goofy aunt who gives Barbies to grown women because she didn't know them when they were kids and she wants to make up for lost time. 

So, while others may have had great success working with folks who were friends first and with family as well, I for one am grateful and really, truth be told, much more honored to find out that my relationships with the people in my life matter as much to them as they do to me.  So much so that none of us would want something as cosmically unimportant as money to ever come between us. 

Take care all, help lots of people and have a wonderful day!


Comments (6)

Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Tisza - I think it is invaluable to know the limits, which include friendship or other relationships. It depends on the people involved, of course, but there is nothing wrong with saying NO when you KNOW it will not be in the best interest of both parties. Good for you.


Jul 09, 2009 03:45 PM
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

I generally end up "friends" with my past clients. I do want to help them all with their real estate needs, but sometimes I am not the best one to help. I don't do Antioch and Brentwood (where a lot of the investment properties are). They're better using a local specialist and I'm quick to tell them so.

Jul 09, 2009 03:48 PM
Tisza Major-Posner
I.V.P.G. - Inland Valley Professional Group - Claremont, CA

Hi All,

Jeff - Good to hear from you!  I hope I will be seeing you at Inman this year :-)  I operate that way and am often heard to say in this and other areas of my life as well... "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should".

Vickie - Thanks for stopping by... I become friends with my past client's as well, but it is a different kind of friendship "work" friends more than "play" friends if you know what I mean.  I got into this business to help people and I also like the fact that I can sleep at night, so I do my level best to do the right thing, not just the easiest or for that matter the most lucrative if it doesn't benefit all concerned.  I am always glad to see others who play the game the same way I do :-)

Take care all, help lots of people and have a great day!


Jul 09, 2009 04:25 PM
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC


I won't list most family and friends; most of them expect me to work for nothing.

Jul 09, 2009 05:22 PM
Sandra Williams
Rancon Real Estate - Temecula, CA

Absolutely a great post! I have said the same thing, just not as cleaverly said, a million times. Our friends are our friends and the amount of money we get out of these relationships can't possibly be worth a friendship. They really do see us with different "eyes".

Aug 01, 2009 06:34 PM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

It's true what you say, a professional's value can be diminished in the eyes of friends, or family. Becoming friends with my clients is different from doing business with family and friends.  In my experience, it's better to keep it professional -- I have found working with friends, or friends of friends, just doesn't end happily.  

Nov 07, 2009 12:52 PM