Agent Struggles - Friends Using Other Agents - Advice?

78 Replies

Good morning all.  The last few months have been rather frustrating, and I'm hoping to get some advice from others who may have had similar experiences.  

I got my RE Agent License almost a year ago.  Very quickly, I assisted two buyers (one friend and one former co-worker) to buy homes.  Both purchases went smoothly, and feedback was great.  

I continued to talk with my friends and acquaintances about real estate (I'm also an investor).  I told them that I had gotten my license and that I would be happy to help if they decided to buy or sell (keeping in mind not to be pushy).  I also shared this a couple times on social media.  Many of my friends are at the point in life where they are planning to buy their first home or upgrade their current home. 

Over the past 6-8 months, at least 6 of my friends have bought and/or sold their homes.  NONE of them have asked me to be their agent, despite having a number of discussions about the process.  They've been happy to ask my advice on negotiation, inspections, appraisals, pricing, staging, etc.  I always end up helping them out, of course with no compensation.  This has become incredibly frustrating.  

I'm good at what I do, and I've personally purchased 8 properties myself.  For some reason, this hasn't translated into my friends trusting me to handle their transactions.  Two have even told me (unprompted) that they wanted to "keep the friendship separate from such a big decision."  They both ended up using someone they didn't even know at all and asking me questions when things got confusing.

Have any of you had similar experiences?  If I can't even get my friends to trust me as an agent, how can I expect to have others do it?  Any advice would be appreciated.  

@Jesse Smith

I get that people want to keep business separate from personal relationships, but I would politely decline to give advice and instruct them to direct all queries to their agent. I don't get involved with other agents' clients regardless of my personal relationship with them out of professional courtesy for that agent. If they want real estate advice from you, then they can hire you as an agent.

I get that people want to keep business separate from personal relationships, but I would politely decline to give advice and instruct them to direct all queries to their agent. I don't get involved with other agents' clients regardless of my personal relationship with them out of professional courtesy for that agent. If they want real estate advice from you, then they can hire you as an agent.

I've often thought about taking this approach.  I would just feel like a bad friend, if I didn't at least try to help.  Maybe I need to just get over that.  I definitely don't undermine their agent of choice, even if I would have done things differently. 

I still struggle with why people would select a stranger over a close friend, who has demonstrated competency in the industry.  In the past, people usually seem to pick friends or acquaintances as agents, even when the agent isn't necessarily good at what they do. 

 

Are you a full time agent?

@Russell Brazil - I'm an investor and an agent.  The bulk of my time is spent managing and acquiring investment properties, but when I get a client, they become my focus until the deal is closed.  

 

@Jesse Smith

Thats the issue then, you are not a full time agent. You are always going to be at a disadvantage to full time agents. Whether your friends can describe it or not, they either conciousnessly or subconsciously view you as someone who plays at being an agent part time and are going to be substandard to a full time agent.

If you want more agent business, then you need to become and rebrand yourself as a full time agent.

If you want more agent business, then you need to become and rebrand yourself as a full time agent.

@Russell Brazil - Are you saying that I should give the impression (through branding) that I'm a full time agent, or that I should actually put investing on the back burner and devote all my time to agent business?

 

I have family members who feel this way for me -- they get frustrated that other family or friends will ask me tons of questions, advice, recent sales reports, etc., but then "want to keep it separate" when it's time to actually list or buy.  I understand that you feel, as, like me, you'd be better at protecting their interests than any others would.  But whenever I'm helping family and friends with anything, I do it because I want to help them, and if they decide to go another route, I'm ok with it as the family or friend relationship is more important to me than a business one, and most really just don't wanting you knowing that much about them as lots of personal and financial issues come out when you're buying or selling a home.  

@Jesse Smith

You can't be a successful agent by being a part time agent. Theres nothing wromg with being a part time agent, but you have to do it with eyes wide open and understand most of the people you know simply will not use you because you are part time.

Why not be a full time agent? How much time does being an investor take? I spend about 15 mins per month om my rental properties. My rentals arnt throwing off 25-50k per month though like being an agent does.

I think it's important to stay top of mind. Is not their job to remember that you are a real estate agent, it's your job to remind them. I think you need to reevaluate how you market yourself. Tom Ferry has good content on staying relevant and being top of mind. I'm a newer agent so I want to be known as a person that provides value in any way possible. Since you have experience with your own personal property, maybe make a couple of vids about your experience and what you have learned? You got this bro!

@Anthony Hosea and others have given solid advice. Your issue is one if the reasons I haven’t got my license. Without my license I still get questions and help friends with real estate questions both for investment and home ownership. Be honored they respect your opinion enough to ask. The average person doesn’t “get it” and understand the mental tug of war you are playing. If I had my license, I would tread lightly- but push them back to their agent gently. Tell them you have too much respect for your “coworker” their agent and may not know all of the details.

I agree there is a perception to a full time agent- but if you are a full time real estate professional - I think that issue is not really one- they are asking you these questions for a reason.

Craig Groeschel says often “no one is sitting around looking for ways to make you money” or some variation of that- and it’s true. It’s your responsibility to get out and earn the work- not wait on them to come to you because they are your friend. Maybe they are family friends with the other agent, maybe the other agent helped them in a jam, or maybe the other agent asked for their business.. you can’t focus on that part.

I was a sales manager at a Toyota dealership for years and would get offended for the same reason until about three years in I quit taking it personal and put myself in their shoes.

Keep your head down, work hard, and it will come. There are plenty of bad agents that will make you look good if you are consistently doing the right thing.

Originally posted by @Anthony Hosea :

Since you have experience with your own personal property, maybe make a couple of vids about your experience and what you have learned? You got this bro!

I'd like to believe that I'm relatively top of mind, since they all have reached out to me for advice during the process... they just don't choose to use me as their agent, so I can earn some money for my service.  That's a great suggestion about doing some videos or posting more about my projects.  I have a friend in the business who does a great job of this, and he seems to be killing it as an investor and doing relatively well as an agent.  

 

Originally posted by @Mason DeJarnett :

Your issue is one if the reasons I haven’t got my license. Without my license I still get questions and help friends with real estate questions both for investment and home ownership. Be honored they respect your opinion enough to ask. The average person doesn’t “get it” and understand the mental tug of war you are playing. If I had my license, I would tread lightly- but push them back to their agent gently. Tell them you have too much respect for your “coworker” their agent and may not know all of the details.

I agree there is a perception to a full time agent- but if you are a full time real estate professional - I think that issue is not really one- they are asking you these questions for a reason.

Craig Groeschel says often “no one is sitting around looking for ways to make you money” or some variation of that- and it’s true. It’s your responsibility to get out and earn the work- not wait on them to come to you because they are your friend. Maybe they are family friends with the other agent, maybe the other agent helped them in a jam, or maybe the other agent asked for their business.. you can’t focus on that part.

I was a sales manager at a Toyota dealership for years and would get offended for the same reason until about three years in I quit taking it personal and put myself in their shoes.

Keep your head down, work hard, and it will come. There are plenty of bad agents that will make you look good if you are consistently doing the right thing.

Thanks for the response.  I love helping my friends, and I am going to continue to do it either way.  If the tables were turned, I would absolutely want my friend to earn a commission if I was already going to be buying a house.  By my math, if my 6 friends used me as their agent, I would have earned an extra $85,000 this year.  That's a lot of money left on the table.

They seem to know I'm proficient as an agent, or they wouldn't be asking me detailed questions through (and after) the process.  It's honestly really hard not to take it personally - wondering what I'm doing to make them think I wouldn't be the best option to help them through the process.  I mean, they're literally hiring (at least in two cases for sure) people they had never met.  If my friends won't trust me with this, I have trouble believing that anyone else would.  Someone else mentioned that maybe they didn't want to share financial or personal details... I've actually helped most of these folks set up their investment accounts, so I've seen all of their financial info.

The worst is when the agent they selected completely drops the ball on something, and I have to hear about it.  My tongue is raw from biting it, and my wife is simply tired of hearing about it... since she's really the only one I talk to about this.  

@Jesse Smith at least two of your friends told you why they didn’t want to use you as an agent. I’d let the fact that they didn’t use you as an agent go. It’s over and done with. Focus on getting more clients if that’s what you want to do.

A couple of things you said stood out to me:

1. "keep the friendship separate from such a big decision." - I think this is a huge one because buying a home can be a very stressful time in peoples' lives, so some people might not want to have a close friend involved at all for fear of emotional leakage and doing something to offend you. In addition, many people assume that their agent might get a slight view of their financial lives and some people might not be comfortable with that. 

2. Secondly, you said that it has been 6-8 months, that hasn't been too long. What you could do better with your friends is to stay "top of mind" by providing value through the different Social Media platforms with market research and other information to help with them with either selling or buying a house. Some say you send 7 correspondences or touchpoints to your customers before your services actually register in their minds. 

A fantastic book for agents is Ninja Selling. The writer, a top agent, talks about 8 in 8. You should check it out. 

Originally posted by @Matthew Irish-Jones :

@Jesse Smith don’t do business with friends unless they come to you and ask for help.

Soliciting business from friends and family is like the Kirby sales guy thing.

Not familiar with the Kirby reference.  Friends come to me and ask for all the same advice they should be getting from their agent... but I earn nothing.

 

@Jesse Smith Yeah I get it.. tough situation.  Like I said I really do not solicit business from friends or family for any reason.  If they came to me as a friend and asked for advice I would offer it as a friend.  If they wanted to use my services I would let them come to me and I would not solicit or ask for their business.  The Kirby sales thing is a reference to companies that bring on sales people and ask them to sell their product to all of their family and friends first.  I don't have many friends though... so isn't a big issue on my end LOL. 

@Jesse Smith I have a family member as my agent, and I would personally rather have it be someone that wasn’t my relative. As far as helping your friends even though you are not their agent, isn’t that what friends are for? I do think at some point it becomes rude of them to keep asking you. If they are good enough friends, you should have a candid conversation and ask them if they find it difficult to be friends as well as clients. Just remember to be humble and always remove your ego. Best of luck to you and keep crushing life.

@Jesse Smith I'm going to give you a different perspective from those on here. Years ago, I was looking for an agent and my old roommate had recently, within the last 6 to8 months, become one.

While I always thought of him as a smart guy, I went with a more experienced and older agent. Years later, he brought this up as kind of like a "why didn't you go with me" sarcastic remark. If I remember correctly, I deflected his comment.

In the end, It just came down to the fact that I feel like I knew him too well and didn't really trust him as an agent. It was just my personal opinion, and as of now he seems to be doing really well on all his Facebook postings for the houses he has for sale. I also believe he is an investor.

The agent I ended up going with was very far removed from my viewpoint of my personal situation. I ended up thoroughly enjoying working with her and used her to sell my house as well. I'm not sure if that helps but that's just my experience within the last 10 years.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

@Jesse Smith

Thats the issue then, you are not a full time agent. You are always going to be at a disadvantage to full time agents. Whether your friends can describe it or not, they either conciousnessly or subconsciously view you as someone who plays at being an agent part time and are going to be substandard to a full time agent.

If you want more agent business, then you need to become and rebrand yourself as a full time agent.

Where in his post did you read that he’s part time?   He said works 24/7 for clients an an investor as well

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

@Jesse Smith

Thats the issue then, you are not a full time agent. You are always going to be at a disadvantage to full time agents. Whether your friends can describe it or not, they either conciousnessly or subconsciously view you as someone who plays at being an agent part time and are going to be substandard to a full time agent.

If you want more agent business, then you need to become and rebrand yourself as a full time agent.

Russell is absolutely right here. Your market may be different, but part timers are treated like the plague in my market.

Unreliable, inexperienced, and limited availability are 3 big preconceptions of part timers over here.

On a realistic note, how can you ever hope to catch up to or surpass a full timer knowledge wise and business wise while only having 1 foot in the door and not putting in as much time and effort as them?  

Its a very logical argument that can be made.


Look, Ill be blunt. Friend or not, Im trusting someone who has closed 100s of deals over a long career over a newbie any day of the week for what will likely be the largest financial transaction of my life. 

Good luck 

Originally posted by @Chris Purcell :
Originally posted by @Russell Brazil:

@Jesse Smith

Thats the issue then, you are not a full time agent. You are always going to be at a disadvantage to full time agents. Whether your friends can describe it or not, they either conciousnessly or subconsciously view you as someone who plays at being an agent part time and are going to be substandard to a full time agent.

If you want more agent business, then you need to become and rebrand yourself as a full time agent.

Where in his post did you read that he’s part time?   He said works 24/7 for clients an an investor as well

" The bulk of my time is spent managing and acquiring investment properties,"

so the majority of his time is not spent as an agent. Being an agents a full time job, thats not his full time job.

1. People use someone they know, like, and trust. They apparently know you and like you but for some reason they don't trust you.

2. Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? You're giving them all the advice they need with no expectation of compensation. If I see a doctor at a party and he's willing to listen to me about my knee problem, why would I make an appointment and pay him $150 to talk about it at his office?

I think you need to step up your game. Keep the "front of mind" awareness by constantly reminding them of your profession and asking for their business and/or referrals. When you make a sale, send an email or postcard to your contacts to show them you're producing results for others. Study the market and be able to answer questions with hard facts. Instead of saying, "The market's really good right now" or "It's a great time to sell!" you can say, "45 home closed last week with a median price of $235,000 and just three weeks on the market. With that rate of absorption, the current inventory will be sold in three months."

No matter what you do, there will always be friends, family, and former clients that choose to go with another agent. Get used to it and move on because nothing  you do will completely stop it.

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