As realtors, our sphere of influence can reach as far as across the globe with social media or as near as your neighbor across the street. Leads appear anywhere nowadays, be it at the grocery store or from your Facebook page. These encounters are chance meetings that you can’t really predict, so you are not that disappointed if they don’t convert into a deal. However, there is one group of people from your sphere who are not chance encounters: friends and family.
This group is arguably your core. They have known you the longest, you have stuck by them through thick and thin, from high school, marriages, kids, divorces, surgeries. You have history. So is there a reasonable expectation they would be your clients too? Or is it presumptuous to think they are your clients by default? The distinction of whether your friend is a potential client or not is often blurred.
Questions abound! Is there an unstated expectation your amigos will use you as their agent? Do you feel slighted if they don’t? If so, is that possessive? And let’s assume they do want you to represent them. Can you stay objective with someone with whom you have a long personal relationship? (Try telling your best friend that her home, that you have visited for years, is not fit for public viewing!) If your transaction goes down the tube, does your friendship go down the tube too? Don’t get me wrong. I have sold property to friends and family (who, ergo, become clients), but I will admit I still have mixed feelings about straddling that fine line.
For instance, a couple years ago, I found out from a mutual acquaintance that one of my good friends had put an offer on a property in my neighborhood. Unbeknownst to me, he was shopping for a while. Given that we had gone to university together and still hung out regularly, I was a bit taken aback. But I swallowed my pride and didn’t say anything. After all, he has a right to work with whoever he wants, right? He is not obligated to me.
What irked me later was that during his escrow he grilled me for my professional advice. (His agent apparently wasn’t very seasoned). On one hand, I wanted to help out a friend who really needed my expertise. But on the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel a bit used. Maybe I was sore or maybe he felt embarrassed, but after he closed escrow, we drifted apart and haven’t really spoken since… Sigh…
Every agent has stories about a terrible client or transaction from hell. We brush those off more easily because they are practically strangers and there is emotional distance. But sometimes those terrible clients and transactions from hell are our own friends and family. How have you handled those awkward moments dealing with friends and family as (potential) clients? Please share.