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Mixing business and friendship. An epic fail?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty, Westport CT

Our Sphere of Influence is probably the best and easiest piece of business to secure as well as our best resource for future referrals.  In many cases, new agents need that vote of confidence from their family and friends to kick start their business.  For seasoned agents, it is upsetting when a family member or friend chooses not to mix business with friendship.


Here is a brief, true story that illustrates why this mentality exists:


I recently became friends with "Jane" at the gym.  She and I clicked quickly as we attended the same bootcamp classes together.  As I religiously "sneak in" that I am a realtor with just about every new acquaintance, Jane couldn't wait to tell me that she just sold her home a few months ago.  I congratulated her and asked who she had hired as her listing agent. Jane proceeded to tell me a once too often told story about hiring her "friend Carol" and shortly afterward realized it was a mistake.  When Carol's listing contract had expired and the house was not sold, she immediately selected another agent.  She was anxious to tell me why.


"Carol wasn't responsive in many ways.  At first, it seemed like we were bugging her to give us showing feedback and opinions on price.  She seemed reluctant to gather either and often reassured us with "at your price point, securing a buyer is just going to take longer." Also, Carol frowned upon hosting public open houses and presented them as a "waste of time."  More time went by and the winter season turned to spring.  The grass was green and the trees were in bloom.  The landscaping around the house was lovely.  But unfortunately, it didn't dawn on Carol to re-photograph the exterior to be current with the season and to be much more attractive on-line. Once the listing contract expired and we made the decision to try a different agent.  With all the previous  issues immediately addressed,  our house went under deposit in two weeks."


Of course there is two sides to every story and I never did hear Carol's version of what went down.  But here is the thing:  Carol's version really doesn't matter.  Jane is telling the story as it happened in her eyes--it's her truth.  Poor Carol--she may have lost quite a bit from this experience.  Not only did she lose this listing, and perhaps future referrals from this valuable resource, she may just have lost a friend as well.


I thought about my own business and how I avoid such disasters and what I came up with is a simple statement:  Treat your SOI business as professionally as you would any other.  This includes:

1.  Present a CMA and marketing plan in person.  Let them now that you did your homework thoroughly and you have a written marketing plan in place to execute.

2.  Revisit pricing and give showing feedback within a specific agreed upon time frame.

3.  Consult and advise as needed--even if it means having to share uncomfortable but important suggestions--remember to be tactful.  Practice how you want to present the information before you actually do.  

4.  Assure confidentiality.  If you are personal friends with the sellers, chances are you share many mutual friends.  Those folks will often engage you in conversation about "how things are going with the Jones' house."  Don't fall into this trap!  Simply state that your licensing laws prohibit discussing any of your clients business without their consent.

5.  Lastly, check in--OFTEN.  Make sure they are aware that you are working on their business with diligence and care .

The worst part of this whole story is that I am probably not the only person Jane has shared this disappointing real estate experience with.  The only difference in the way she presented her story and my paraphrased version--I used an alias name.  She did not.  


Posted by

Nancy Manby  203-856-7069

Serving Lower Fairfield County CT

Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post you are right we must treat all business relationships the same way; probably even more so, when there is a friend involved. Thanks for sharing I hope you have a great weekend.

Aug 12, 2016 05:33 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


This is a sad tale we have heard, or seen, many times, and there are some valuable lessons here for agents, and sellers.

What's really sad is that Jane's experience is probably being shared over and over. What could have been potential future referrals for Carol will never happen.

Have a great weekend!


Aug 12, 2016 05:47 AM
Nancy Manby
Keller Williams Realty, Westport CT - Stamford, CT
Your Downsizing Specialist

Exactly!  Good news travels fast.  Bad news travels like lightning.

Thanks for your comment.  Have a great weekend!


Aug 12, 2016 05:53 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Nancy I have done several loans for family and friends.  It has its challenges, but today I have been very fortunate that they all have gone well.

Aug 12, 2016 12:01 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Nancy, there is definitely a fine line when you do business with "friends", and need to keep it completely business during the entire transaction.

Sep 03, 2016 12:42 AM