There are around two million active real estate agents in the U.S. That’s roughly equal to the combined number of active and reserve U.S. military personnel.
So it’s no wonder that agents must often confront a frustrating objection from prospective clients: “But my friend is a Realtor.”
The obligation that many buyers and sellers feel to hire their friends as agents has resulted in lost business for many qualified professionals. But if you choose your words carefully, you may be able to persuade prospects to consider hiring you instead of a friend — here are seven responses mined from a conversation in the Facebook group Lab Coat Agents.
1. Offer to pay a referral fee to the friend
This provides some prospects with a way to hire a stranger instead of a friend without feeling guilty. Pairing the offer with a warning of the risks that can come with using a friend as an agent may further strengthen the proposal.
“How about we pay your friend a referral fee, and you get to keep your friend and also gain a great Realtor?” broker-associate Heather Edwards asks prospects who bring up their Realtor friends.
2. Recommend the friend
Another approach is for agents to encourage prospects to hire their friend.
Heidi Powell takes this tack — so long as she knows the friend is a capable agent. “I’m sure she will be happy to hear from you! Please tell her I said, ‘Hello!,” she tells prospects.
Powell then calls the agent to inform the agent of her talk with the prospect.
“Pays dividends every time!” Powell said. “Because that is what I would want someone to say to my friend.”
3. ‘But can your friend do this?‘
Then perform a silly trick. Broker Benjamin Floyd follows the question by using his nimble fingers to create the illusion that he’s detaching and then reattaching his thumb.
Another humorous response: “Now, you have two,” Realtor Lissa de Armas’ tells prospects.
Firing back “Fantastic, so do I!” is also an option. Broker Ankeney-Binkley quickly follows the one-liner with: “So, you are looking to buy? Sell?”
Showing a sense of humor right off the bat might lead a prospect to spend a little more time hearing you out.
4. Are you sure you want to mix business with friendship?
Many agents point out that using a friend as an agent can potentially jeopardize the friendship if things go south.
“Is it worth losing your friendship if a deal gets difficult? There are always bumps in the road and it’s difficult to have an unbiased view if you have a previous relationship,” broker Michael Curtis says to prospects.
Broker Lauren Stratton notes that agents working with friends may not be able to “stand back from the situation and look at it as a professional and not personally.”
5. Want your friend to know all about your finances?
Consumers may not immediately grasp that they’ll have to pull back the curtain on their finances to their agent. Bringing this to light may cause some consumers to rethink hiring a friend.
“So, are you prepared to share a fair amount of personal and financial information with your friend, that will definitely be exposed during the transaction?” asks agent Renee Kidwell-Drumm.
6. Great! Want a second opinion?
Reminding prospects that getting a second opinion can probably only help is a way for agents to throw their hat into the ring.
After acknowledging that she also has friends who are agents, Realtor Veronica Saucedo then asks sellers if they’d be willing to spend the 15 to 20 minutes that it takes for her to explain her listing strategy.
“Great, meet with your friend and meet with me after,” Realtor Suneet Agarwal tells prospects.
7. Ask about the friend’s credentials
If an agent has a competitive resume, she might want to ask prospects about their friend’s credentials.
“You know, it’s interesting that 20 percent of the Realtors do 80 percent of the business,” Realtor Christopher Cassidy tells prospects. “I’m fortunate to be in the top 20 percent of all agents based on production. Do you know where your friend ranks?”
Realtor Anne Meczywor asks a series of questions to highlight her pedigree.
They include: “That’s great! Is (s)he full time?; How many years has (s)he been in the business?; Is (s)he local, so that she knows this market, the lenders, the attorneys, the home inspectors, etc.?”