Quick – can you name three realtor friends off the top of your head? Most people don’t have any trouble quickly naming a handful of friends and close acquaintances that work in the industry.
The industry is hot right now, and brokers often persuade people to get licensed by highlighting the fact that buying and selling homes can be done on a part-time basis. The only problem with this is that it over-saturates the market with inexperienced agents who really only pursue real estate for its flexibility.
This also creates a problem: Everyone knows someone who buys and sells houses. So when it comes time to buy or sell your house, you face a dilemma: Choose one of your friends, or risk hurting their feelings by going with a more experienced realtor.
5 Reasons Not to Hire Your Realtor Friend
As a general rule of thumb, don’t hire a friend to be your realtor – especially if real estate is a hobby or part-time job for them. Here’s why:
1. Choosing Convenience Over Expertise
In most cases, your decision to work with a friend is made out of convenience, rather than expertise. It’s either the easiest option you have, or you feel pressured (internally or externally) to hire them. Considering that your house is your biggest financial asset, this isn’t a decision you want to make out of a place of convenience. You want the best person for the job – no ifs, ands, or buts.
2. Your Friend May Not Know Your Area
Just because you know someone who does real estate in your area, doesn’t mean they know the neighborhood you want to buy in. In the same city, there are often a handful of areas – each of which requires specific expertise in order to be competitive. In a big city, there might be dozens of areas.
What often happens is that you discover too late in the process that your friend doesn’t know your area. By this point you’re essentially stuck with them and won’t be able to get the sort of deal you need.
3. Your Friend Might Put in Less Time
This isn’t always the case, but some friends will actually put in less time when working with clients they know. They feel like they don’t have to impress their friend, so they instead choose to prioritize their time with other clients. Not only is this disrespectful, but it can really cost you some opportunities and exposure.
4. Your Friend Might Be Hesitant to Speak the Truth
“You may not like hearing that the list price you want on your home is too high or your offer on a property is too low, but it’s your agent’s responsibility to give you the honest truth and serve as an objective outsider,” real estate expert Susan Johnston Taylor writes.
A really good friend will shoot you straight, but a casual friend or acquaintance may not be willing to speak the truth. This can cost you time and money.
5. It Could Permanently Strain Your Relationship
What happens if you hire your friend and things don’t work out? Not only does this hurt you financially, but it will also put a strain on your personal relationship with the individual. Is this really something worth losing a friend over?
How to Turn Your Friend Down
It’s quite possible that you have a close friend who is a full-time real estate agent with lots of experience and a great reputation. If that’s the case, by all means, hire them. But in the majority of cases, that friend, neighbor, or acquaintance just dabbles in real estate and doesn’t represent your best chance to maximize value when buying or selling.
When turning down a friend, you never want to be rude or hurtful. You do, however, want to tell the truth. Mention that you don’t like the idea of mixing business with friendship, or that you would prefer a little more privacy with your finances. It’s also okay to admit that you need a more experienced agent, while offering your friend the chance to co-list your property with a realtor of your choosing.
What to Look for in a Good Agent
When it comes to finding a good real estate agent, there are a few factors and skills to look for. Here are three specific traits:
1. Local Expertise
You want an agent who has experience – but not just experience in the general way. You want an agent who has expertise in your specific area. They should have a history of helping clients and buy/sell in your neighborhood over a period of time. This ensures they have an accurate understanding of what it takes to properly market and value homes in the area.
2. Good Communication
A real estate agent needs to have good communication skills. They should be forthcoming and transparent, proactive in their discussions, and available.
This last point is key. You need an agent who picks up the phone when you call. Whether it’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning or 6 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, you often don’t have time to play phone tag with your agent. Real estate moves fast in today’s market and high-level responsiveness is a crucial.
3. Willingness to Provide References
“If you’ve lined up a new agent and you want to make sure that they’re the best fit for you, ask them for testimonials or statements from their last 20 clients,” realtor Jean Gordon suggests. “Not selected clients, literally the last 20. A good agent should be able to give you a positive reference from any of their past clients.”
Either the agent will give you the references or they won’t. Some might tell you they haven’t had 20 clients yet. If this is the case, it’s a sign that they aren’t as experienced as they’ve led you to believe.
Let Green Residential Help
At Green Residential, we take pride in helping our clients maximize value when buying and selling real estate in the Houston area. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to contact us!