REALTOR: FRIEND OR FOE?

Posted by Muriel Ballard on Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 12:51pm.

I know someone is not interested in being my friend when they say “I don’t think we should work together because I am afraid it will impact our friendship.”  The only folks who ever say this are people whom I know casually and are not my friends.  They are correct in what they say because, if they did work with me we would undoubtedly become much closer.  As it is, these folks never do become my friends.

The relationship you have with your Realtor, if successful, may very well become one of the longest, most intimate of your life.  Most people will move a few times which means not only finding a home (or homes), but letting someone into your home when you are ready to sell.  The depth of the relationships that I develop in going through the sales cycle with my clients is one of the things I cherish most about my profession. 

You will rest easier knowing you have a trusted Realtor on your team, just like you would your dentist, accountant, hairdresser, etc.  Would you want to see a new dentist every time you needed to get your teeth cleaned?  Of course not, because you want to know that they understand your history: the scary experience you had as a child, your commitment to only getting porcelain fillings and so forth.  The same is true with your Realtor, who will know about your: life priorities, style preferences, job, income, risk nature, children, health, allergies, pets, dreams for the future and more.

In order to find a house that is a “best fit”, a good Realtor needs to listen carefully to the things that really matter to their client.  You should always have a sense that your Realtor has your best interest at heart, even if it means walking away from a potential sale because it wouldn’t serve you in the long run.  For example, I lost a deal when I counseled a young family not to buy a tiny two bedroom house with their darling one-year-old.  I knew that as soon as their son got a little older, with bigger toys and toddling friends, the house would become excruciatingly small very quickly.  When you outgrow a house it means you need to move again sooner.  Moving again sooner is costly.  It is always better to get a little more house than you need to avoid moving more frequently.

I have counseled past clients that it is time to sell when they were upside-down, effecting a short sale and transitioning into a home where they could once again begin to build equity.  I keep an eye out for  my clients who have “maxed out” their investment, as far as their capital gains income is concerned, meaning they’ve done very well, financially speaking, with a house, and advise them to leverage into another home where their wealth can continue to build.  I am diligent in identifying homes that I believe are both safe physically AND sound investments.

The bottom line is, I often spend many more hours with my clients than I do with my non-client friends, which is why my clients often become very, very dear friends, whom I fret over to ensure that they will thrive.  We go through something very powerful together each time they buy or sell a house.  They know I am a fierce advocate for them, and isn’t that what a friend is supposed to be?

Make sure you can be honest with your Realtor, and that you can discuss sensitive matters without losing tempers.  Make sure you feel heard and not pressured.

If you approach your relationship with your Realtor as if they are just someone you’re going to pick up in a bar (Open House) and then ditch after you’ve had some fun (bought a house), then you may be missing out on one of the most powerful relationships you can have.  Pick a Realtor that you really like.  Someone you genuinely feel you would like to get to know more.  Don’t be afraid of the possibility that they may become a great friend.  In that person you will have a terrific ally!

And a final note.  If a Realtor does not seem to care about you as much as a friend would, perhaps you should reconsider whether they are the right person to help you out.  You don’t want a foe by your side as you make some of the most important decisions of your life.

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