Avoid Pitfalls of Working With Friends, Family

January 23, 2018

Mixing business and family can get messy. However, family and friends may be your main source of business when you’re beginning to sell.

“The choice is fraught with risks—both to your relationship and to a successful real estate deal,” writes Daniel Bortz, a real estate pro in the Washington, D.C., area in an article for realtor.com®.

Bortz shares some of the lessons he’s learned about the pitfalls of working with family members on a transaction:

Make sure you’re really the right agent for the job.

Bortz says he helped his brother sell his three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom townhouse in Baltimore. But Baltimore is outside of his market expertise; he works in the Washington metro area. Bortz says he had to quickly study up on the local market there and spent countless hours going through local housing market data. “It was exhausting—and looking back, it made me wonder whether it would have been easier on everyone for my brother to hire a Baltimore-based agent instead,” he writes.

Disagreements can be sticking points.

Home buyers and sellers can have a difficult time detaching emotionally in a real estate transaction, and that can be even more difficult when advising a client who is a friend or family member too, Bortz says. For example, Bortz says telling his brother the price of the home became a source of tension. His brother believed his home to be worth a lot more, but his expectation was uninformed. “It was a hard conversation, but disagreements between agents and their clients are common—and can easily turn into a nasty argument when you already know each other on a personal level,” Bortz says.

Tensions can rise when you start talking money.

Friends and family deserve to get paid, but sometimes people are motivated to hire friends and family because they believe they’ll get a discount on commission by doing so. You’ll need to be upfront about these conversations. Bortz says it can feel strange collecting a check from your family, but with all the hard work you put in, you deserve payment.

Source: “‘I Sold My Brother’s House’: The Perils of Hiring a Real Estate Agent You Know,” realtor.com® (Jan. 22, 2018)