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Business Marketing

When Friends Reject

Friendship and Business

I don’t know if others in the mortgage industry face this situation or not but lately I’ve been losing deals. I’m not talking about your normal deals either, but deals that my friends are initiating and closing. Since the beginning of the year three of my friends or within my circle of influence have bought homes or refinanced. And I didn’t get to be a part of any of them.

When we built our marketing strategy a vital component was capitalizing on the “under the nose” sources. Some call it “sphere of influencing marketing’ etc. Whatever the terms, the idea is to be the expert provider of your service within your immediate contacts whether friends or family.Since we are not from Arizona and have no family here, this meant the friendships we developed around the gym, young moms, church, Nepalese community etc. It is not that we become friends with the intention of doing business, but we do not shy away from making our work known to them as our friendship develops. In the past we have received inquiries from folks within our circle and have even closed transactions for them. Lately our circle is not seeking to be involved with us. Am I being to sensitive?

I’m not sure what may be going on. Maybe real estate agents do not face this issue, but I’m thinking if there is an inverse relationship between friendship and mortgages financing? Meaning the closer we become as friends the less likely we are to do business with them. I know there can be some concerns, since we will need to review all income and asset information, but we are professionals and abide by the strictest level of confidentiality.

Is there something to this phenomenon or it is just temporary and soon I’ll be refinancing all my friends! Or do you suggest to never mix friendship with business?

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Vicki Moore

    April 1, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Realtors experience a lot – there’s a lot of us. It seems everbody knows one. Sometimes people don’t want friends to know their financial situation. I don’t think you’re being sensitive. I think your feelings are hurt. Mine are too every time it happens to me. It never gets easier.

  2. ines

    April 1, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    It’s definitely not you. We have done plenty of business with friends and also lost “friends” over business….trying to understand the human mind and why some “friends” may not want to work with you is beyond my rational grasp. What is clear is that you learn to know who your real friends really are, it’s all good.

  3. Elaine Reese

    April 1, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I would it expect it to happen more with the mortgage market simply because people might be hesitant to divulge all their financials with a friend. It sometimes happens to Realtors if people are afraid it might affect their friendship. It definitely is harder to work for friends but it can be done. I’ve done several.

    It’s better to maintain a friend than lose a deal. I don’t think you should take it too personally.

  4. Christina Ethridge

    April 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I’m not one to shy away from the ‘why’. I would ask why. But put the onus on yourself – ask them if you’ve done something or if they prefer not to work with friends. Our sphere of friends we include in all of our marketing – our monthly newsletters – our bi-weekly snail mails – our weekly emails. When we meet someone, we plug them in. From our kids sports teams to people in our bible study. We also support our friends businesses where we can. If I had friends that didn’t use us, I’d want to know why to see if there is something I could change or?? My dad has had people in the past say they didn’t use him because they thought their sale would be too small for him (he’s always been the top agent in the area). I made sure to change that image for him and us so people wouldn’t think their transaction was too small.

  5. David G

    April 1, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Shailesh,

    In case it helps there is a popular theory that supports the inverse relationship between (real) friendship and the economic value of your relationships; it’s Granoveter’s “strength of weak ties” theory ( You actually see it in practice when you speak to a blogger who gets 80% of their business from people they don’t know (yet) who have contacted them via their blog.

  6. Russell Shaw

    April 2, 2008 at 3:16 am

    For my first 10 – 12 years in real estate every time I found out a friend (read anyone I knew) bought a house from someone else or listed with another agent I felt betrayed. It simply “stung” each time it happened. As my business grew it still happened but it didn’t seem to matter as much. I knew I had “crossed over” when I found out about someone selecting an agent (who wasn’t me) and I was not in the least upset about it. In fact, I was so happy that it didn’t upset me that I talked about to my wife all the way home. The next few times Wendy still got to hear how wonderful it was that it didn’t matter anymore. Now, it is a complete non-event. Sort of like the sun coming up. I’m not surprised and it is just part of life.

    The key to it really being alright was the potential money really not mattering. Really not mattering.

  7. Bill Lublin

    April 2, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Hi Shailesh;
    I don;t know that your circle should seek to be involved with you , as much as you need to remind them that you wish to do business with them. But even if you did, I’m not sure that would matter, since, as Elaine and Ines point out, usually the issue is with the other person and not with you.

    From the time we’re little kids being chosen for teams in the playground to our adult lives, we always want to be chosen. And when we spend the time to become good at our trade and proud of the service we provide, it feels even worse when we are not the chosen one. But as everyone is quick to point out, while it might not feel good, and might always give you a twinge (it does to me, even after all these years) I think all you can do is put away the feelings, offer your best wishes and be prepared to help them next time -after all it was their loss 🙂

  8. ines

    April 2, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Russell – I’m so glad to hear it gets better – although for me it’s not the money, is the thought that they either don’t trust me or don’t believe in me. I would go out of my way to use my friend’s services, whether it’s a clothing store, a used cars dealership or a doctor.

  9. Shailesh Ghimire

    April 2, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I guess we all face this to an extent and it’s a matter of how we deal with it. I guess I’d like to read the “zen” state that Russell is in, and hopefully in a few years I’ll get there.

    Interesting theory David. I enjoyed reading about it on Wikipedia.

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