You love your friends and family. They bring joy to your life — and maybe they are even great real estate agents. But that doesn’t mean they would be the right real estate agent for you. Buying and selling real estate is an emotional and stressful process even if no major issues arise, so it’s important to have the best professional help you can get — without the emotional baggage that comes with personal relationships.
If you have a friend or family member who is a real estate agent, they might not want to represent you. If they do, here’s how to let them down gently.
Excuse #1: They’re not local.
Real estate is a hyper-local business. You want an agent who not only knows your city’s market as a whole, you want one who knows the neighborhood so intimately, they can tell you why one street is better than the one behind it.
So if your friend lives in your same city, but primarily does business three zip codes south, tell them you feel like you need an agent who knows the area inside and out.
If your friend is part of a larger brokerage with a good reputation, ask that they co-broker the transaction with someone in the office who has intimate knowledge of your area. This way you will get the best representation and involve your friend at the same time.
Excuse #2: They don’t specialize in the type of property you have or are looking for.
A condo is different from a downtown Victorian which is different from a suburban tract home. Whatever type of property you are selling or looking to buy, you want an agent who specializes in it. You want your agent to know immediately if something is mispriced or if homes from a particular builder have problems. The only way your agent will know that is if they have been working with this kind of property for a long time.
So if your friend or family member primarily buys or sells a different property type, simply tell them that you want someone who specializes in whatever you’re looking for. If the agent tells you real estate is real estate, they aren’t a very good agent and are further justifying your decision.
Excuse #3: You don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with your friend or family member.
There are several reasons not to mix friends or family and money. But buying and selling real estate goes beyond fee negotiations. If you’re buying a home, you will have to disclose very personal financial information and not everyone is comfortable sharing that information with their friends and family.
The other issue is the emotional baggage that comes with every personal relationship. The baggage isn’t always bad, but it leads us to assume certain things about our loved ones that might or might not be true. For instance, you might be someone who is well organized and seems to have all of their ducks in a row. Your friend or family member who knows this about you might not warn you about or disclose something because they assume you have already researched it. And this could put you in legal or financial jeopardy.
If your friend thinks you’re being overdramatic or too cautious, bring up the fact that doctors are generally not allowed to operate on their loved ones. This is to prevent emotions from affecting the doctors’ decisions. Real estate agents aren’t doctors, but this is likely the biggest financial investment you’ll make, so you need to have the right help when you do it.
It’s not unusual for a friend or family member to want to help you out when you’re in need of services they provide. But when the services you need are those of a real estate agent, it’s better for your relationship if you hire a third party who specializes in the location and type of real estate you’re buying or selling. Just make sure to let your friend or family down easily so you don’t hurt their feelings.