The fine line between buyer and friend!! (My first blog!)

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX 1st Choice

Ever represent a friend as their buyer's agent? Initially, you don't know what to expect but you think it should be easy considering you know the person, what they like, and their expectations; and you think they know the same about you. Then 8 months into the "business relationship" you realize it would have been better not to represent this person, but to refer them to someone else you know that is equally as reputable!!

I have a family friend/buyer (let's call her Ms.X for confidentiality purposes) whom I have know for about 5 years personally, and have been working with professionally as her agent for about 8 months (and counting). She is looking for a home for herself, her children, her future husband and his children.

Over the 3 past months we have been actively searching for and viewing homes. Even though they are both very picky individuals, they demand to see houses in which they know won't suit their needs!

  • One house is too far (approx. 30 miles) from the husbands job, but she still insists on attending open houses in that same town.
  • Another house the wife asks to see, even though she knows the husband won't like the backyard.
  • I tell them about a great deal on a house they love, and emphasize how important it is to make a decision soon, they call back 5 days later and decide to make an offer, and are saddened when they realize the house is now pending sale.
  • On the rare occasion they do find a home that meets their qualifications, they offer way below the asking price, and don't expect the seller's to counter!
  • Because they are friends, if it is "after hours" they call the house phone when I don't answer my business phone.
    • let's not forget to mention the 10 pm Friday evening, 8 am Saturday morning, and Sunday during church service calls!!


It is even to the point that my daughters are ready for her to finally buy a home. My 13 year old says "Ms. X calls more than dad" the 15 year old says "Gosh mom, you're showing her ANOTHER house tonight" and everyday the 23 year old says "Did she find one yet...does her husband like it...are they going to buy it?"

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have let this happen, but since she is a friend I put up with some of her messes, definitely not all of them. I am not one for wasting time or money!!



All I can do is laugh, keep on doing my job, and give them my best advice!!

Comments (17)

Michael Wayne Jackson
Coldwell Banker - Novato, CA
Broker - Seniors Real Estate Specialist Novato

Welcome to active rain Rhonda, and congrats on your first post. It is wierd working with friends or family since they are more cautious with us than a stranger.

Jul 01, 2008 04:46 AM
Joe Virnig
RE/MAX Gold Coast REALTORS, Ventura County, California - Ventura, CA
No Ordinary Joe

Selling a house to a friend is a sure way to end up with an ex-friend!  I've seen it happen.

Jul 01, 2008 04:47 AM
Andy Park
Weichert Realtors FH Realty - Forest Hills, NY

Well, friends as buyers are always tough.  I generally don't like to help them much, unless of course they are desperate for a home and they know exactly what they want.  That almost never happens. 

I've helped several friends in the past succesfully, lucky me.  It seems your friend/buyer is just wasting your time, period.  8 months is just too much and you are too nice.  Remember that this is business.  You are wasting time and money here.  have your friend sit with you, and go over again what they NEED in a home.  Exclude the wants.  If they can't seem to agree (husband and wife) its time to move on.  Tell you friend that you, as a professional, feel they are not ready simply because they cannot agree on what will suit their needs in a home.  You may loose them as buyers, but you might gain others who won't waste your time.  If they are attending open houses, just tell your friend to present you business card to the listing agent and that you are working with them.  This way you can still be part of the transaction.  I've done that before and it works.  Eventually your friend will realize she is just wasting your time and they'll either stop looking or get serious.  Loose the buyer not your friend.

Good luck

Jul 01, 2008 04:54 AM
Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

Family and friends can be very hard to work with. But i have also had some of those same problems with new clients.

Jul 01, 2008 04:55 AM
Peter Nikic
Broad & Bailey Realty LLC - Valhalla, NY

Rhonda, "Help me Rhonda"? welcome and congrats on your first post. my advice (to any realtor) is stick to being either a buyers agent or a sellers agent, but not both. Once you do this, you've just weeded out half of your friends.

The half that you may or may not deal with, be clear up front that this is your job/business. Such as in this case, select criteria with the buyer and stick to it. No wasted time and trips on showings that will go nowhere.

Sometimes the best thing is to refer them. make sure you let them know if you get a referral fee.

Jul 01, 2008 04:59 AM
Vicente A. Martinez
Prudential Douglas Elliman Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - Woodhaven, NY
Realtor, Brooklyn - Long Island - Queens Homes

Hi Rhonda and welcome to active|rain. There are thousands of tips, tools, and tricks of the trade here. Be sure to check them out. Best of luck and see you around.

Jul 01, 2008 04:43 PM
Derenda Grubb
CENTURY 21 Mike D. Bono & Co.'s - Lake Charles, LA

Hi Rhonda,

Welcome to AR and reality.  Have you ever had a perfect stranger walk up and say, "hey, I thought since we have been such great firends, FOR SO LONG, that you would sell my home for a lower commission than you do for others".  Only Friends do that.  I wonder why?  They would think we were crazy if we walked up and said, "Hey, since we have been such great friends for the last 10 years, I thought it would be a great idea for you to give me $4,500 to celebrate that friendship." 

People will ask a friend to do things they would not think of asking of a stranger.


Jul 01, 2008 05:05 PM
Peter Nikic
Broad & Bailey Realty LLC - Valhalla, NY

Derenda makes a good point. I've thought about that many times. I've heard many people say, "I'll give you the job because your my friend if I get a discount". How the heck can you rationalize this? How could someone say this?

Jul 02, 2008 12:27 AM
Jeff Thornton
Jeff Thornton ABR CRB CRS CSP e-Pro GRI - Lansing, MI

I've had a very close friend run me around at the most difficult times, use me to guide them on getting their home ready to sell and putting a price on it then tell me they are buying a FSBO, selling their home FSBO.  I was a fool as I didn't worry about the buyer agency contract right away.  They were friends.  He did give my wife an I a gift certificate to use at a Bed & Breakfast for a $100.  What a deal.

Jul 02, 2008 12:58 AM
Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038 - Downingtown, PA


There in lies the dilemma.....and if they use another Agent we are offended.....a true fine line, good post and best of luck.

Jul 02, 2008 01:46 AM
Matthew Zgonc
Aksland Real Estate - Modesto, CA
Realtor, CFS, CVS

I have helped friends where one worked out and the other didn't, but the key thing if it doesn't work out is to remind them that you are their friend first above all else.

Jul 02, 2008 02:02 AM
Carol Clay
Looking Glass Realty - Brevard, NC
Broker/REALTOR, Brevard NC Real Estate Specialist

Congrats on your first post and welcome to AR.

I re-read your post and even though you didn't ask my advice, here it is! LOL  It's time for some tough love. Your time, talent, and resources are a valuable commodity and because of your friendship, in my humble opinion, you're allowing her to take advantage of you. If it were me, I'd have a "come to Jesus" meeting with your friend and her husband. Then with their input, I'd write down a list of all their criteria. Price, location, backyard issues, etc.  Then I would ask them to agree that you are no longer chasing after properties that don't match that criteria in some way. If they want a home within 15 miles of his office, then a home that is 30 miles away won't be a consideration.

It's all about setting boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. Wow...I'm really getting preachy! It's bad enough that we get abused by strangers...let's not allow our friends to do the same.

Best of luck to you!

Jul 02, 2008 03:45 AM
Jeffrey deJESUS
eXp Realty of California Inc. - Daly City, CA

I get where you are coming from Rhonda. Its sometimes difficult to work with friends and family

Jul 02, 2008 06:38 AM
Carol Zingone
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS

Rhonda - it can be difficult to work with family & friends, as they don't see the difference between when you are a Realtor, and when you are a friend.  As a mentor of mine said: NEXT!  You should cut to the chase with them and do your best to get them to focus on what they need, and where it needs to be, and if they don't focus refer 'em out, and look for your next motivated buyer or seller!

Jul 02, 2008 09:23 AM
Linda Tremblay
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc, PA License #AB065488 - Doylestown, PA
Associate Broker - Bucks County, PA Real Estate Services

Welcome to the Rain.  I have not represented a good friend, but I have represented a closer acquaintance and a family member (my brother).  Acquaintance went okay, brother?  Different story ... Thank God his home finally sold.  He was going to fire me as his agent and I was considering disowning him as my brother... It can be tough, but it did work out 

Jul 02, 2008 11:27 AM
Latonia Parks
Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV - Fayetteville, NC
Certified Military Relocation Expert

Based on the comments you received, I don't think I want to go down this road.  It seems too exhausting regardless of the friendship.

Jul 02, 2008 12:43 PM
The Dave Ruwe Homes Team
Re/Max Lakeshore - Grand Haven, MI

Hi Rhonda and welcome to Acive Rain. Good first post. Tough call dealing with friends as clients. It can become very uncomfortable at times as you are learning. Good luck.


Jul 02, 2008 01:08 PM