Question Details

Josh Emo, Home Buyer in Redmond, WA

A good friend, not a good agent.

Asked by Josh Emo, Redmond, WA Wed Mar 26, 2008

On my last purchase I employed a close personal friend as my Realtor. She was fairly new to the biz and I felt obligated to hire her. Unfortunately my fears about her inexperience were later confirmed- she couldn't answer my questions, didn't follow through, and left me feeling underrepresented during negotiation. I swallowed my dissatisfaction.

A couple of years have passed and I'm getting ready to buy again. I know she needs my business more than ever, but I can't put myself in that position again. I need new representation, and this time I'm shopping around. I'll have to tell her eventually.

For all you Real Estate professionals out there, is there a positive way to terminate the client-agent relationship?

Help the community by answering this question:


Tell her staright up. Thats what i would want. "Hey look, last time i bought my home, i needed a few things more than i got and i really dont want this tointerfer with our friendship.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
The fact that Josh selected a Best Answer after some of our replies should tell us his position on the whoel thing. He is probably quite concerend about the performance from this friend/Realtor so he needs confirmation on the board to know it's O.K. to tell his friend straight.

Although personally I still think (and yes, I admit that I omitted mentioning this) that other than being straight with the friend (which we hope the friend knows her mistakes now that she is more experienced), he can still give the friend an opportunity to interview with him. Unless, of course, Josh already picked a Realtor but just want confirmation here; which is really not uncommon.

The other thing is I hope Josh told his friend about how he felt right after the transaction they had before. The best thing I can get from my clients are feedbacks so I don't make the same mistake twice. Being a friend is both ways, to be able to be honest is very important aspect of true friendship.

2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 28, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Good point Walstmnky ,

Unless this "good friend" is making the mortgage payments and paying the light and gas bills I wouldn't be too concerned ...

1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 28, 2008
If she is a really good friend, it's possible the damage to the friendship will be irreparable. Maybe you could ask her to team up with a more experienced agent in her office. That would give her a mentoring experience and also give you access to a more experienced agent without ruining your friendship.

I have helped many agents with family and friend transactions. It can create a win-win for everyone. prepared to lose a friend.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
Hi Josh. I understand your concerns and I would explain to your friend that you value her friendship greatly and that's why you have decided not to mix friendship and business. I have found that representing friends can be a challenge as friends many times have unreasonable expectations and it's more difficult to tell a friend that he/she's wrong without potentially affecting the friendship in the long run. I like the idea of asking your friend to give you a referral. That way she will still be able to get some money. In the end, your friend should want what's best for you. That's what friendship is all about.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in New Castle, DE
The most common reason I hear for friends or relatives not working with an agent who is personally close is privacy. I feel the same to some extent: for instance, I don't try to sell homes that come up for sale next door to me, or very closely.

I can get to know a lot about clients during a transaction--it can be a time of great stress, and people may exhibit behavior that is not typical, and that they would rather not have close neighbors remembering or knowing about!

Also, many people don't want close friends to know their particular financial details. These are perfectly valid reasons to choose an agent who is not a close personal friend.

Does your friend really need your one transaction that badly? If so, maybe she should reconsider working as an agent. When an agent needs that one sale, they aren't generating enough leads. What will you do, buy a home every time she gets in a financial bind? And what kind of decisions is a desperate agent making? If she knows that you are working with her, just so she can get a paycheck, is she putting your best interests above all else in the transaction?

Really, she needs to sink or swim on her own. I don't mean to sound harsh or cold. It is something most agents come up against in their career--especially in this market. Lead generation is the number one action for agents who are serious about staying in the industry. If she can't or won't do that, she will go down no matter how many homes you personally buy.

Many agents switch to becoming licensed assistants, escrow officers, or other related fields. Some partner with more powerful agents. There is no shame in adjusting your career!

Tell her soon. When her career puts that kind of pressure on a friendship, it is not serving either of you well.

Best wishes, and please let me know how this works for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 28, 2008
"I really dont want this to interfere with our friendship."

It may be the "best answer" from what the person asking the question wanted to hear. But basically you are telling your friend "you suck". Pretending it won't interfere with the friendship is not realistic. You have to be willing to forfeit the friendship.

Not saying that's a bad choice, just saying don't be surprised if telling your friend that they suck at what they are trying to do for a living is going to leave the friendship intact. If you are OK with getting a good agent and losing a friend, as many have suggested, then go for it. But there's no nice way to say I want to be your friend but I don't want to support your career efforts.

On the bright side, if they are really that bad, your actions may cause them to quit altogether and that might save a lot of other people in the long run.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 28, 2008
Sorry, if you are referring to friends that need to be bribed just to be "acquired" or "maintained", then I don't have that variety. I am sure, you can find plenty of those, as you seem to be of the opinion that friendships need to be maintained using strategies like "throw her a bone".

As for my real friends, I tell them like it is. If I could not, they would not be friends.

You can have a relationship w/ someone that is both:
(a) an excellent personal friendship, AND
(b) a terrible business proposition.

Sounds like Josh got stock in one of those. I am telling him he should have no problem untangling the two.

And as far as describing the situation, you can be of the opinion that "Josh was not satisfied" and I can be of the opinion that he was screwed. If he took the effort to research the matter on an anonymous board, it sounds to me like Josh's concerns were more than "being unsatisfied".

Why don't we ask Josh to estimate the monetary loss plus aggravation he suffered, and then ask 10 reasonable people whether he was merely "dissatisfied" or "outright screwed". Until such time, I shall be entitled to my opinion and you shall be entitled to your friends, who need to be bribed to be kept as friends.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 28, 2008
Look at it this way:

- you hire her, she gets paid, you get screwed. The amount of money you lose, anxiety, etc, is possibly bigger than the amount she will get paid, esp. if she works for a broker that takes half of commish,

- you don't hire her, she does not get paid, you get a good deal from a competent agent.

I don't understand the people who fear that "friendship will be lost" over not hiring her. How come she is entitled to terminating the friendship over business not given to her, but Josh is not entitled to terminate the friendship over business done pi$$-poorly?

Heck, she already $CREWED you once in a business transaction (knowingly or unknowingly), and you are worried about telling her NOT TO $crew you again? Wake up, dude. You are not living your live to please your friends AND allow them to $crew you multiple times.

Here is what you should (have done) do:

1. You should have told her after the first transaction that she could have done better. If you can't tell her that much, perhaps you should not be friends,

2. You should tell her now, in her face that you don't feel like hiring because of X, Y, Z.

RE agents below who are calling for referral are SERIOUSLY mistaken. Who do you think she is going to refer the business to? The agents she knows? The poster clearly said, that he wants to interview. Don't you think Josh would prefer to find agents he likes, via interviews, etc, rather than go w/ her referrals? If she is incomponent, probably her connections are equally incompetent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
Good question Josh,

A well known Judge (and friend) in Florida said this to me many years ago ...

" ..always keep your money and business in column "A" - and always keep your friends and family in column "B" ... this way you'll never see me in court "

It made sense 20 years ago and it makes sense now ... friends can be very costly - and a friend of a friend can be even worse.

This is a big decision and there's going to be a lot of money involved, for many years ... so you just need a fresh slate, not a voice in the background asking the whys and wherefores in the same office, and you know how office gossip can be.

Your best bet is to find 4 or 5 good agents that have been in the business for 8 or 10 years - and just like any job, they need to be interviewed ..

What is their game plane, what is their experience, who have they worked for, what sales figures did they do last year and what did they do 5 years ago, what price range are they used to - and how well do they "really" know the area .. and get 6 or 7 referrals from each one and call everyone of them ..

Look long and look hard, it's your money.!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
HI Josh -
This is a tough one for you, but the bottom line is that it is just business - not personal. You have to look out for your own best interests and that is the very bottom line. I wouldn't even bother with the referral scenario if it were me. It is a good idea, but honestly, it won't smooth it over really. I would just go about interviewing some agents and make sure that this time you find a good fit for you. This is a huge financial decision and you really need to be able to go into it knowing that you are in the best hands. You can feel good about giving her that shot as a new agent, but the fact is that it just was not acceptable and didn't work.
I do wish you luck - moving is extremely stressful anyway and you definitely should not have to worry about hurting other people's feelings while you are going through it. As friends, you will get through it. :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008

I have a slightly different suggestion.

You still have to explain your situation to your friend so that she understands, but try this.....

Have your friend refer you to a different, but very experienced agent in her office. Your friend can then negotiate a 25% referal fee on the sale of your home AND a 25% referral on the purchase of your next home with that agent prior to passing the name to you.

This wouldn't cost you any more money, but it would still put money in your friend's pocket. (friendship saved?)

I have done this 3 times in my office (Most recently I gave a listing referral to a collegue for a home an hour away. I didn't want a listing that far away, but it was right in her target area) Upon sale, I receive 25% of the commission and she gets 75%

PLUS, and this is the best part, the client got the best service possible. I was not the best choice to help the seller in that area, and the other REALTOR was.

Just make sure to check out the agent that she refers you to, and confirm that they meet your standards.

I see this as a real win/win for you and your friend.
Web Reference: http://www.OwnGRcom
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
I agree with the other answers but ultimately you know her best and how she will respond. Being honest is always the best way to maintain the personal relationship while terminating the professional one but again you know her personality and what her reaction may be. I think allowing her the opportunity to interview for the position is a valid request. You have the right to interview other agents and at the same time she has the opportunity to prove to you her value and experience she may have gained over the past few years. I would approach her in a way that lets her know that you had an uneasy experience previously and are willing to give her the chance again but only after interviewing other agents for the job and that you may choose someone else to represent you but would hope it would not effect your friendship.

An alternative to this very sticky situation may be to ask her to co-represent you with another more experienced agent. Maybe she has a mentor in the office or someone she has partnered with on previous transactions. You may be able to then interview that agent and find the confidence in having more than one agent represent you, added experience but also allow your friend to be a part of the transaction and maintain your friendship. Who knows, maybe she'll realize your uneasiness and let you off the hook??? Chances are she realizes your feelings on how the first transaction went and may not expect you to continue to use her in the future.

I wish you luck. Whatever you choose I hope you find the representation you deserve while maintaining your friendship!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
Interview a few agents - ask for referrals from their past customers. Tell her what you are doing and like Sylvia said - you may be surprised by her improvement.

I have had a few acquaintances go with another REALTOR, and it stung but I always wanted to know why they made that decision. Ask her and tell her your friendship is very important to you, but you also need to make good decisions for your investment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
One way to make it more acceptable to her is to tell her that you heard it is best to interview a few Realtors before making decision on who to use.

Then go and get a few referrals and interview a few Realtors before you choose one. Make sure she is invited as one of the interviewees and give her the fair chance to prove herself to you. .

Who knows, maybe after a couple of years, she will surprise you with how much she has learned; but then again, maybe not. You have at least given her a chance.

And truth be told, although ego and feelings can be hurt; if I am your good friend, I would want you to have the best and I will understand (O.K, I will really try anyway :-)) .

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
In the beginning, it would have been more helpful if she had split the commission with another agent, and then you would have had two agents instead of one, and she could have "learned" on the job.

Be honest, and tell her that while you had used her in the past, that you would like to know move in a different direction. She may not like to hear it, but then again, it is YOUR money at stake!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
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