The Line Between Friendship and Business

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group S-96414

The Line Between Friendship and Business

Part 1 (of a never ending series)

It sure does go a lot smoother when the Buyers and Sellers of a home sale transaction get along with each other.   But is there a point where they can harm their position by becoming too friendly?   hands

For years, real estate agents have historically kept Buyers and Sellers at arms length.

Is the climate changing?    Is it still a wise approach to take?   Is the reasoning in doing this still sound?  

It is natural to think that "if I could just talk to the other side, they will see my point of view and understand where I am coming from."   

That may be true.   Without an intermediary you might get your point across and offer insight into your thought process.    That works two ways.   There may be an understanding or you might also say things that inadvertently hurt your negotiating position or even worse say something that the other party might take the wrong way and hurt your chances in the transaction all together.    Emotions can get the best of us no matter what side of the fence we are sitting.    Buyers and Sellers have different perspectives.  One thing that is the same.  Both sides are highly charged.  

Becoming too friendly can become a problem when an issue arises after home inspection, during the mortgage process or title examination.     Asking "a friend" to compensate you for a "defect" in their beloved home can have unintended consequences.  

So, is the climate changing where Buyers and Sellers should be talking to each other and letting their feelings be known?    Possibly.  I feel in the past couple of years that my clients do want to have conversation with the other side.   

But, Is it wise?       I think that it is good for sellers and buyers to meet, talk and discuss the ins and outs of a the home.    They can share a wealth of knowledge about their home that the best home inspection can not turn up.    After all who better to know what goes bump in the night than the Seller? 

But maybe it is smarter to have this conversation after the nuts and bolts of the transaction has been ironed out.    

Is the reasoning still sound?   I believe it is.

A real estate transaction is complicated and emotional. 

Just because it is your home, don't lose sight of the fact that it is really business.

Part 2  My friend, relative, etc, is a Realtor Should I Hire Her?





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Keith Stonehouse

This is a great blog and thank you for sharing ....

I see this all the time with my Realtor clients (I am a title insurance co).

I try and explain the process and the concepts to them and sometimes it gets either lost in translation or lost in transaction

again, thanks for sharing,

Keith Stonehouse 

Jun 01, 2012 12:31 AM #72
Thomas Wolter

After 24 years in the business I could not have said it better!  Thx for the post.

Jun 01, 2012 12:31 AM #73
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I keep emotions out of any business decision especially if it involves a financial transaction, otherwise someone might lose more than money. 

Jun 01, 2012 12:33 AM #74
Michelle Chauvin
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas and Henderson, NV

You know, sometimes it's the Agent that is the problem not the Seller and Buyer.  Example: last night, after receiving recording confirmation and checking the MLS that the lockbox is still in place, I met my Buyers at the property to give them their keys. Problem the agent had removed the lockbox over the weekend (and told nobody). He says his Seller asked him to remove it over the weekend (4 days ago). Why? He said the Seller didn't like the Buyer's attitude. Really? Why? because per fully executed contract the refrigerator, washer, dryer remain in the house.  During the inspection this subject was brought up and the Seller didn't think that was part of the agreement. The Listing Agent said sorry, he missed that part and should have reviewed the contract. After letting LA know that I needed to schedule the final walk-through and told to arrange it with the Seller, I scheduled it.  The Seller was stressed out saying we already had an inspection why the final walk-through. The LA again said sorry, I should have explained that process to my Seller. So as you can see, I get SORRY at least 3 times from the Listing Agent (as if that makes it okay) to not do his job and work with the Seller as he should.

So again, sometimes the Seller and Buyer are okay. The problem many times are the agents. In this particular case, the LA only cares about getting paid and not providing service or trying to build a good reputation for repeat and referral business. Those are the ones that give this industry a bad name and are the ones that should move on to a different line of work.

Jun 01, 2012 12:53 AM #75
John DL Arendsen
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

You know there's something to what you're saying that I subscribe to. When I was much younger I always drew a line in the sand when it came to getting friendly with a client. However, as I've aged over the decades I'm at a point in my life where if I don't have warm fuzzies with a person I'm dealing with I will just choose not to deal with them.

Call it crazy but I've fired more clients in the past 5 years or so than I've actually taken on. Has it affected my income? Probably. But do I really care? Not really. There was a time when I would bend over backwards for every nickle.

When your're raising a family, paying for a mortgage/s, putting food on the tabe, healthcare, college educations, etc. trying to build a financial portfolio that you hope will carry you through the rest of your life, you have to often bite the proverbial bullet and suck it up. 

But as I enter this next phase of my life or as it's often referred to, "Golden Years", do I really want or need the stress, pressure, anxiety and all the other negative emotions that make you churn and turn and have sleepless nights? I don't think so.

By golly, I think you've inspired fodder for my next post. 

Jun 01, 2012 02:01 AM #76
Ann Wilkins
Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty - Oakland, CA
Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA

I have had positive experiences having buyer and seller meet during the FINAL walk thru.  My seller had a fantastic kitchen with built-in cappuccino maker, convenction microwave etc.  It was important that she show the new owners how everything operated and had to be cleaned etc.  She also had old photos of the house that a past owner had given her.  The buyers agent came with a wonderful bottle of Pinot Noir and I supplied the wine glasses!  Okay we usually don't drink wine at these events but it is nice for the owners to pass on information regarding the house.  Most of the time though, my clients are buying a short sale and owners have left the area or they are buying an REO. 

Jun 01, 2012 02:37 AM #77
Pat & Steve Pribisko
Keller Williams Greater Cleveland West - Westlake, OH

Carol, great & timely post.  Currently we have a client buyer who wants to talk to the other side, in case there are tips the Sellers could provide about certain items in the home.  Problem: We have not yet completed the inspections.  I suggested that a good time to talk is during the 3 day walk thru.

Jun 01, 2012 02:47 AM #78
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

I still believe it's a good practice.  I prefer it that way.  In fact, I just had a seller that wanted to know why the buyer didn't want to come & get to know her?  People feel differently about every transaction that's for sure.

Jun 01, 2012 03:59 AM #79
Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
Wende Schoof - Menlo Park, CA - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula

I agree with the "arms length" mindset, which seems to be the majority opinion here.  I think you have done a good job explaining to consumers the importance of keeping the distance throughout the negotiation process.  It's one more way professional realtors bring great value to the home buying process.

Jun 01, 2012 05:05 AM #80
Gary & April Greer
Century 21 Wright - Temecula, CA
Real Estate Professionals

The only time they need to meet in person or speak to one another is at the final walk thru if the Buyer would like the Seller there to take them through any house details.  Let them start their "friendship" then.

I can't think of any time it went well any other way.  They always seem to (unintentionally) offend one another in some way and then that is the mood of the entire process for them.

Pretty sure this is why FSBO's can't get their deals closed.

Jun 01, 2012 05:07 AM #81
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Thank you all for stopping by and taking the time to weigh in.    I appreciate all your thoughts.     

Jun 01, 2012 07:07 AM #82
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Carol Ann,

After settlement is the time to become friends, because the transaction is complete & will no longer interfere.

Jun 01, 2012 07:56 AM #83

Putting the buyer and seller together before closing is not something we encourage.  They can become best friends after closing.

Jun 01, 2012 10:38 AM #84
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

I've had a few become friends before closing, but I do not encourage that relationship until after.

Jun 01, 2012 10:39 AM #85
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I keep all parties separate as much as I can....cordial is fine, but friendships get messy and hurt feelings do nothing to make a smooth transaction.

Jun 01, 2012 11:05 AM #86
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Generally I think not - maybe once in contract a supervised visit.  It is nice to learn the little things about a home.  On the other hand there are disclosure documents and all those little things can be put in writing.

Jun 01, 2012 01:49 PM #87
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Nice post, something we all think about and seem to be in agreement on...wait until after closing.  I've seen FSBO deals blow up b/c of too much talk b/t the parties--broken promises, nothing in writing.

Jun 01, 2012 01:56 PM #88
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Carol Ann - Your post reminded me of a situation that turned ugly. It was my listing, another agent's buyer... And the owners assisted with showing the property because it was a large acreage and the lines were confusing.

The buyer and sellers came to an agreement and we all sat down together to write the purchase and sale agreement.

Then the buyer and the sellers decided they could be best friends. After the buyer's agent and I had gone home, those folks celebrated with dinner and a bottle of Scotch whisky (or maybe a couple bottles). And they made some additions to the agreement.

It was a long story, but in the end, it went to court.

Jun 01, 2012 03:31 PM #89
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Fine if they become BFF's forever, but not until after closing. Too many things to go wrong prior to that.

Jun 01, 2012 05:08 PM #90
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert


Congrats on the feature and I always stick with the idea that buying or selling a home is a business decision.

Jun 02, 2012 04:11 AM #91
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Carol-Ann Palmieri

"Cal" the Real Estate Gal
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