Choosing A Realtor: Should You Hire A Friend Or Family Member As Your Agent?

There’s an old adage in real estate: everyone knows a Realtor.  So if that’s the case, how do you choose an agent to represent you if you already have a personal relationship with some who sells real estate?

Choosing a Realtor is tough.  You have to find someone you trust; someone who will look out for your best interest; someone who is knowledgeable about the market and also has the experience to counsel you on what will be the largest personal financial decision of your life. It’s really a tall order, so what do you do when you’ve got a friend or family member in real estate that may not be all that you need?  Should you use them or not?

First and foremost, when choosing an agent to work with, you have to hire someone you trust, and your trust has to be well placed.  What I mean is, if you trust someone whose ethics you know are somewhat questionable, caveat emptor, buyer beware.  Consider their behavior over the years; do you believe them to be ethical and honest?  Trust and ethics are of paramount importance when choosing a Realtor.  And by the way, the fact that they might save you a few dollars is not reason enough to use them, there’s just too much at stake.  You really have to believe your agent is a person of character.  If you have any doubts you should probably reconsider your choosing them.  If someone isn’t trustworthy in daily life, their behavior is not likely to change when the chips are down in a real estate transaction.  If we’re talking about a friend or family member, be honest with yourself, but understand that if you don’t choose your friend or family to represent you, there are going to be repercussions.  But fear of repercussions is not reason enough to use someone you don’t want to.

What happens when you’ve got a personal friend or family member that is in the business and you really don’t want to use them?  Simple, don’t.  However, once you make this decision, you have to “cowboy up” and talk with them, preferably in person.  Maybe start by emphasizing how much their friendship means etc., and then tell them that you are going to be selling your home, but you’re using someone else.  Look, it’s never easy, but I can tell you from personal experience, if you tell your friend that your friendship is really important and explain why you’re using someone else and that you wanted to tell them in person, they will have a really hard time holding a grudge.  It’s no guarantee of course, they may really need the money and really be hurt, but you are much less likely to run afoul and permanently damage the relationship if you are forthright and tell them in person.  And please, don’t use the “I don’t want to do business with friends” line, that’s just a cop-out.  Tell them why you chose the person you did: They are the neighborhood expert; you don’t work my area; you’re too far away.  If it really is your position that friends and business don’t mix, then take the responsibility and tell them, “I have to be able to fire you and I couldn’t do that if we were working together, I care too much about you, but you know how tough I can be…”  If you know your personality or that of your spouse won’t mix with someone you know, then you should say that too; “I like/love you but I need someone I can push around and you’re not that person.  I just have too much respect for you, but I have to be honest with myself and fair to you.”  It’s not going to be easy no matter how you slice it but it’s better to face the music now then to live with it later.

If however, your family member, church friend, neighbor, softball buddy, really is a good agent, then use them because if you trust them, then trust them and listen to them.  A good agent is hard to find, so if you know one, you’ll thank yourself later for using them friend or not.

About Tim Freund

Tim Freund has been a licensed real estate agent/broker since 1990. He spent 14 years as a new home sales rep, ran his own boutique resale brokerage for 5 years and is currently an Estates Director for Dilbeck Estates/Christie's International Estates in Westlake Village, Ca. Tim is a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), an Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR), a Corporate Mobilty Specialist (CMS) and a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). Tim has successfully negotiated a loan modification for a client and is a professional short sale negotiator. Tim has been married 28 years, has 2 children, is a native Californian and has been a resident of the Conejo Valley since 1991.
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