Last week, Inman surveyed readers for their best responses to potential clients when they say: “I have a friend in the business.”
Favored comebacks from readers highlight the many ways mixing business with friendship can backfire, including poor service and ruining relationships altogether.
Another common recommendation: Point out that, in many other contexts, people generally hire candidates because they are qualified for a job, not because they are friends.
Here are some of our favorites. Be sure to only use those that genuinely match your capabilities, values and experience.
Is your friend the right choice?
- Did you know that 90 percent of sales are handle by the top 5 percent of all agents. Is your friend one of this agents?
- That’s great, it’s always good to seek advice from a friend. Now let me ask you, have you ever given a compliment to friend just to be nice? What if your friend did the same thing with you, just to be nice, but instead it impacted your most important financial asset? Wouldn’t it make sense to at least have a second opinion on a strategy from someone like me, a professional, in addition to a friend? Sometimes it’s just easier to have a candid conversation with a professional rather than a friend, right? I’m glad you agree. You’re meeting with your friend tonight? Great, why don’t we meet tomorrow so you’ll at least have that second opinion, and you can make the best decision at that time.
- Are they full-time, or is this their hobby?
- Friends aren’t always the best Realtors.
- What is their sales history?
- I often hear people say this, and I do understand. Think about how much easier it will be to fire me than your friend if you are not happy with the service you receive.
- Friends are friends (or family is family) and business is business. (Period, end, finish!)
- Buying or selling a home is the most important transaction you will ever make. Be sure you’re using an experienced agent. You can’t afford any mistakes.
- I’m sure you have more than one friend who’s in business in this market. Wouldn’t it be better to choose your advocate agent based on experience and reputation rather than trying to choose between your friends whose feelings might be hurt over your choice?
- There are several factors to consider in choosing to do business with a friend or family member:
- How important is the relationship? If the business deal doesn’t work out well for both parties, the relationship will likely suffer.
- Your friend will find out personal and financial information in the process of representing you, and sometimes people don’t want friends to know that information.
- If your friend is a part-time agent versus a full-time agent, it can create problems and lead to a worse outcome.
- If you need to get the very best results from your real estate transaction, you owe it to yourself to hire the best professional you can find.
Would you choose a friend in any other business?
- At work, when you are looking for a spot to fill, don’t you interview people to find the person who will be the best candidate or just call a friend and ask if they want the job regardless of their qualifications? Despite the friendship, are they the best source to entrust [X amount — insert cost of a home in your market] of your money with?
- I certainly understand your desire to honor that friendship, but let me ask you this question: If you had a serious illness, would you have a friend who’s a doctor handle your illness, or would you hire a specialist?
- I have a friend who is in med school. That is probably not a good reason to hire her for my upcoming surgery. I have been practicing real estate for 40 years. Does it make sense to put all my expertise, experience and results in the service of maximizing the results of selling your home?
Can your friend be straight with you?
- Ask questions like: What would you do if after 30 days on the market you had no offers to consider? What if there was consistent feedback, but your friend didn’t share it because it might hurt your feelings? How would you feel about firing your friend if they could not get results?
- How important is your relationship with this friend? If you two are really close, would he or she be able to communicate with you totally professionally? Would you use a good friend who happened to be a doctor?
- If you didn’t have a friend in the business, you wouldn’t have any friends. They will not tell you what you need to hear; they will tell you what you want to hear. If you value that friendship, the best thing you can do is list with a stranger. This is a business transaction and not a social event.
- That’s great! I have to ask, what value is that person bringing to you other than being a friend?
How will your friendship fare?
- Only one? Most people I know have about seven. It really comes down to two issues: Who is going to do the best job on a major project like buying or selling your home, and can your friendship survive if something goes wrong or gets too high pressure in the process?
- Would you be comfortable firing your friend?
- Losing a friendship, and (possibly) a home, isn’t worth the risk.
- We all have our own rules on life, and one of them is “I don’t do business with friends.” This is because friendship is worth more than a sale.
- As you can imagine, most of my clients have a friend in the business who they often feel obligated to use, even when they don’t want to. Often they have a couple friends in the business, and that makes it even trickier to choose. I suggest to them to let their friends know that because they know a couple people in the business they would prefer to work with someone who is a stranger to them to keep things fair and more comfortable for everyone.
- Do you want to remain friends?
Are you comfortable sharing intimate details?
- Would you want that friend to know the ins and outs of your finances and investments? Would your friendship last if the deal went south?
Don’t you want the most qualified candidate?
- It’s not uncommon to have a Realtor in your circle of friends. Most people know at least five or so agents. Do you know if they can match the experience I have in your [neighborhood, type of home, property uniqueness]? I’ve built my successful business just on that type of experience and would love to put it to work for you.
Can we all work together?
- Awesome! Are you still considering interviewing other agents as well? Never hurts to have more than one viewpoint!
- Great, let’s get his or her input, and I can give them a referral, and we all win.
- Agents often cooperate, and if you’re open to this, I’d like to contact your friend to see if we might be able to work together. What’s his or her name?
Editor’s note: These responses were given anonymously and therefore are not attributed to anyone specifically. Responses were also edited for grammar and clarity. Inman doesn’t endorse any specific method and regulations may vary from state to state.