Realtors: Working with a Family Member or Friend? Three Things You Don’t Want to Do

Young couple with professionalSo your cousin is looking to buy a new home. Suddenly your newest client is the same kid you used to go fishing with back in the day. All the dynamics change. This is family. You can your hair down and relax. After all, they are lucky to have you. Piece of cake, right? Wrong.

In a recent Inman blog, author Tyler Smith, CEO of SkySlope, makes a great analogy. “If you were to take your car to a friend who happened to be a mechanic, how would you feel if your new mechanic neglected to check your brakes because he didn’t think it was necessary, based on your friendship?”

In other words, letting your standards down for a customer just because he or she is a friend or relative could have less than satisfactory (or even disasterous) results. Having a relative as a client should never cause you to alter your game plan or your work style. Here are some common traps to avoid when working with friends or relatives:

  1. Don’t cut corners. Working with a relative doesn’t give you license to neglect to follow through on listings, showings and paperwork. They deserve the same level of accommodation that your standard clients receive, maybe even more. Meet them at times convenient to their schedule, not after the family barbeque. Be prompt and follow through. Keeping your communications professional will demonstrate to your relative that you consider him or her as important as your other clients. They’ll be more likely to recommend you to others.
  2. Don’t assume they don’t have other choices. Remember, this is a property they are either buying or selling. They are well aware that this transaction will be impacted by your expertise and decisions you make on their behalf. If they sense that you are not taking their business seriously, uncomfortable though it may be, they’ll move on to someone who will.
  3. Don’t overdo it. By the same token, don’t run yourself ragged trying to please a relative at the expense of your other clients. You will only increase your stress levels and theirs. The stress of trying to be perfect can actually have the opposite effect, negatively impacting how you handle negotiations and follow through.

The bottom line is that, when working with a family member, there is no reason not to continue to use the same tools and ascribe to the same business regimen you use with any new client. Your relative will appreciate your professional demeanor and integrity. And, assuming you are good at what you do, you will get some great referrals along the way.


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