Agent Struggles - Friends Using Other Agents - Advice?

78 Replies

@Jesse Smith

Have you asked them or even told them how you feel especially when they talk to you about how an agent dropped the ball? Just step up and ask them why didn’t you use me? They’re your friends, you should be able to talk to them about these things.

If you want to let people know you are in real estate they are going to come to you with real estate related questions. That is just how it is and you are going to give a lot of advice in this business without getting paid in general, you just hope down the line it comes back to you. 

Remember also, people have a lot of people in their ear when purchasing a home. Everyone in their family thinks they are on expert. It could be a spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, etc that is recommending they don't use you as an agent because you are a friend. Then mid-transaction they realize it is a mistake and come to you with these questions. 

There are a ton of people who do not think being an agent requires any skill and advise their family members that way and no matter what you do or say for some people what their family says will trump what you say. if uncle Charlie had a bad experience with an agent that was a friend and uncle Charlie has influence over your friend that could be a reason you don't land them as a client. Sounds weird, but it's true. 

I have friends that are part time and I won't use them, I also rarely them advice though. Part time tells me they dabble in it as a hobby and to make money on the side, would you hire a guy who does construction on the side to rehab a house? As for them asking questions, tell them you don't want to step on their agents toes and they should talk to their agent about it. If they ask you questions, you're obviously in their mind, they just don't want to use you. Constantly posting about being an agent or asking for work will just get you blocked on social media and uninvited to parties for being annoying. If you want to keep your friends, stop thinking about how much money you should be making off of them and keep them separate from business unless they hire you. 

@Jesse Smith

I can attest firsthand that what your friend is very wise - you indeed are risking the friendship by working professionally with your friends. It can backfire spectacularly and your friendship will be torpedoed.

It happened to me.

Do not at all assume because they are your friends that you will all have the same ways of thinking, expectations, common sense, sense of compromise, give and take.

I was a realtor for a spell some years ago. A very good friend was buying her first townhouse, so of course I wanted to help her. After looking at a few places she was interested in one. Instead of making an offer, she started making outlandish demands to the seller (asking me to make the demands) without any offer on the table. Without an offer the seller was unlikely to take any orders from us. The basement needed gutting, new furnace, plumbing, everything below ground was in bad shape. “If they fix all this stuff (probably 20k in repairs) then I will make an offer.” I wasn’t *that* experienced, but it was completely backwards. Her attitude, and this she told me directly, was I am the customer and the customer is always right.”

She wouldn’t let me guide her through the process. I was perfectly happy to help her in any way I could, but she started steamrolling all over me, ordering me around. She was testing her dominance and power. It was completely rude and obnoxious, since we were supposed to be “friends.” There was no working together cooperation. I was working my *** OFF doing research on the area, nearby developments, title history, etc.

Eventually she literally accused me of taking advantage of her just to make a buck off her. It was shocking, hurtful when I was trying to help her. I was dumbfounded.

She was a good friend. We parted ways and never spoken again. Very sad. But I saw a new side to her personality that I never knew existed.

So don’t take it too personally if your friends don’t want to work with you with such an enormous transaction in their lives.

Hello Jesse, I was in exactly the same situation a couple of years ago - very experienced investor but a new agent. A few of people I know very well bought with other agents. I agree - not the best feeling in the world. On the other side - I did help a couple of other friends buy a house. One was smooth and easy, second one was a disaster. 

Keep on doing what you do and don't take it personal. I would bet a few years from now many of your friend that had gone with a stranger agent will use you for their next transaction!!!

You've had your license for less then a year and your friends and family know it. They know this is basically a new venture for you and feel more comfortable going w someone they don't know but who has more experience.

Any potential clients won't know your experience level and your efforts would be best spent finding these types of clients.

I would not offer any advice to friends family who chose to not use you. Just politely let them know you'd be happy to assist them in the future with the sale or purchase of their home if they choose you to be their agent.

I've been through this when I started as a contractor and have seen with a new agent I know. Its common just forget them as clients and move on.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Time to be a lil more pushy

@Jesse Smith are you a Secret Agent? Are you using Social Media to you advantage. I had the same issue when I first started then, I stopped targeting Friends/Family and started using my market skills to locate other clients, but when I Sold/Listed it was documented on all social media avenues.

I ran into this same issue when I first started. Many people I knew decided to use someone that wasn't me and it sort of offended me and they did the same thing by asking for my advice but I politely stayed out of it. I agree with what @Russell Brazil was saying about being a full-time agent vs. part-time. When I gave the impressions through conversations and social media marketing that I was a full-time agent its like a switch flipped and now I haven't run into the issue you are facing since. We still actively invest like you do but really have two different businesses and we portray that mostly through FB pages and other social media platforms. A lot of people don't understand what investing is really and don't see that as you can help them buy their next home. You have to show them you are helping all of these other people with their purchases and things will slowly change. Good luck

Just my opinion and speculating..A few things may be the issue. Do they not take you serious? Are they Real frinds? Do they expect you to work for free? Is there maybe some underlying jealousy?...When they ask "how are you"? do you always say "I'm so busy" maybe giving off an I have no time signal..I find it nervy that they seek advice after they retained another RE agent.  I wouldn't give them any advice because they are being Users!!

@Kao Saeteurn

I understand your frustration. My wife was a licensed agent after college, hung her license with a friend who's a broker. Her objective was to keep herself busy while she decides what to do. While she had many friends and relatives at the time, she was not offended that they used more competent agents which they did.

The way the business works around here, her value to her broker is how many properties she get listed. Someone new would run around the neighborhood, pass flyers, etc. But most new agents either just wait for people calling the brokerage, or come in through the door. In her first year, she sold about 2 houses thru MLS, where the fees are split 4 ways, selling agent, selling broker, buying agent, buying broker. SFR and duplexes sold for $50K 30 years ago with an average fee of 6%, split 4 ways. If she sold $100K in property in a year, her share of the fees come to $1,500, not exactly lucrative. I partnered with a RE agent doing a flip, at one point mention he had to be at the dinner as his broker is honoring those whole sold $1 million or more, the million dollar club, and he made it. I congratulated him, he laughed and said, "for what, for making $15K"?

You indicated you've been at it for a year at this point. This means when most of your friends contacted you, you've been at it for less than a year. If it was me, and I'm buying a home, one of my biggest investments of my life, I would go with someone at it longer than a few months. In my wife's case, now looking back 30 years, she felt she was a real rookie at that point. We've been in the real estate game for over 30 years, looking back, we've learn a lot since.

Just be patient. In my state, when you're at it for over two years, you can go on and get licensed as a broker, and at that point, it becomes more lucrative. It doesn't mean you go to sleep, it means you can put forth a business plan to get listings, have agents working for you, which is where the money is. And you can doing real estate management as well.

Good luck to you. 

@Jesse Smith Friends and family can be the best and the worst. I am grateful to those that placed their faith in me when I was new, and regret doing business with others.

Eventually, you develop tough skin and you bless and release. I am a good Realtor and friend. I have learned to still be helpful and professional, BUT not give it all away. There’s a fine line. I’ve had plenty of friends who have picked my brain along the way. No longer. I set boundaries that are understood.

Social events are great for picking up business, but I won’t let them pick my brain anymore. Make an appointment and let’s talk further in the office, otherwise I’m just your friend enjoying your time. It goes both ways. That’s how I know if they’re serious or not.

We know we treat our friends like gold, but no matter how much we want to convey that, sometimes they are set on their fears and beliefs. They fear the awkwardness, the embarrassment (if any), the damage it can cause, the spouse’s opinion, and being talked about. There’s no way of convincing them.

The key is to not come from scarcity. Would I like your business absolutely. Will you use me? Nope. My time and boundaries are just as valuable. It goes to people who value and appreciate what I do. This year, no one has negotiated my commissions, except for one relative. Denied. My clients, especially my investors refer me people and tell me to not give them a discount. They support my worth and tell others what it is. They sell me. That’s the people I want to work with.

With that said, there are people I absolutely don’t want to work with. Sometimes I have to, and sometimes I bless and release.

Lastly, some people no matter how great they are and we are, are just not meant to be. Either we didn’t mesh or they went elsewhere. I have learned to accept that and learn from it when there is a lesson for me.

I do better with strangers and their referrals. Past clients and referrers. Those are the people I nurture.

It’s the game of life. Hope this helps. :)

This is a very interesting thread and I have some input. I have a buddy who is an agent part time. We are both pilots full time, and working alongside him in Africa is how I first met him, and know him. I considered using him, but his online presence is really poor, which means unfortunately I'm not going to take a gamble with a huge investment, on him. He has very few reviews, and they are mostly from people I know that I also used to fly with, and they were just reviews for showing properties, even though they didn't purchase. My buddy is a super nice guy, works very hard for his family, and I get along well with him. But I didn't use him when I had an opportunity to buy and a year later sell our home. I feel if I had, I would have been more willing to accept poor performance for the sake of a friendship.

When looking for an agent, I look for one that offers me exceptional value - either I've worked with them (in their capacity as an agent), or their online presence (reviews) tells me they're gonna work hard for my dollar. I've bought about 12 houses in 12 years and only 2 agents so far have gotten business from me more than once. I seem to keep finding more than my fair share of agents who only give a rats about the commission they can get from me. 

As others have said, don't take it personally. In fact, quite the opposite I think, respect your friends for caring enough about you where they don't want to hang your friendship in the balance. And definitely continue to give advice when asked for it, that will pay off dividends. 

Your friends not using you isn't a big deal but this post is a red flag for your lack of social skills. People don't always want to mix friends or family and business nothing wrong with that.

Posting with your full name on a forum about how your close friends don't even think your good enough is a great way to come up in Google as a realtor not to hire. This post comes across as poor social skills and lack of intelligence. People want to hire a confident smart realtor to negotiate for them not a pity story. 


@Jesse Smith I agree with your friends. I would never use a friend to represent me as an agent. I tried that once. We’re no longer friends. You may be good at what you do, but you need to be good at selling strangers on using you as their realtor. That’s your current weakness that needs to be fixed

@Jesse Smith

I totally agree with Bob on this one if you're good enough for them to ask you for free advice and they see your track record I wouldn't help them out any more than they help you and spend your time networking with people that really wanna use you and keep them as part time friends

@Jesse Smith

Hi Jesse I used to live in Kansas City 25 years ago however I am now thinking about investing back in Kansas City particularly the North East area what's your thoughts on that

I currently live at Los Angeles but and looking to get out

1. Your average person wants a full time agent. Your friends/acquaintances know that’s not you.

2. EVERYONE knows a handful of agents. You, a friend or acquaintance has a license but their brother, sister, mom or dad may also have one.

3. You’re still new. Maybe they aren’t comfortable/confident with your experience.

4. If they’re real friends..... ask them why they didn’t utilize your services.

A few years ago I was looking at becoming an agent so I talked with a good friend of mine that has sold RE for 20+ years. He gave me great advice and I will never forget it. He said if you're not willing to work for FREE then this is not the work for you (he stressed "FREE" so I did too). As an agent you are going to give advice for free, you're going to drive all over town in your vehicle wasting your gas showing houses to buyers (who might not even buy) for free. You're going to submit offers at midnight after working for free all day on a house that has 5 other offers; when your offer is declined all of that time was for free. You have to hustle, shake hands, go to seminars, work social media, answer your phone whenever it rings wherever you are, all for free.

Eventually the ball starts rolling and you can start making a little money but it takes take a lot of time. If you want to do this part time you're just not going to make the connections needed to make any substantial income.

And as other have stated, don't do business with friends and family. Give them advice for free because you love them and want them to be in the best position in life no matter if they hire you or not. 

I have nothing but respect for real estate agents, that's WORK. I'm way too lazy for all that! lol I'll stick with my rentals thank you very much!

I wouldn't do business with a friend. When it comes to my professional life, I have high expectations, and I work hard to make sure that doesn't bleed too much into my personal life. Friends might be surprised by the difference in "work Amanda" vs "friend Amanda" and that wouldn't be fair to them. Ultimately, I need to be able to fire someone who isn't working out for me, and being friends with someone makes that messy and I know my judgement would be compromised. There are plenty of other people buying and selling homes. 

@Jesse Smith #1 best advice from experience: set no expectation(s) of your sphere...and you won't be disappointed.

Another question: Are said friends married or in a relationship? If so, Sir you're expecting your association to trump their willingness to please their significant other (and some other things that would be deemed explicit if said). It's likely the significant other influencing their decision.

@Jesse Smith every agent goes through this sort of thing. It is like a punch in the gut. I actually just had this happen to me today! It’s been a long time since I had that little surprise text, but even after 5 years some friends and family may decide to work with someone else. However, after 10 minutes of being angry and complaining to my wife. I made sure I called my current leads and active clients. I lost that friend as a client today because I did not relay my value and did not keep top of mind. Whenever you get hit in the stomach, give your self some time to feel the pain and then respond. I suggest doubling down on lead generation that you have committed to, contact your sphere and aim to have three good conversations by the end of the day.

First year is rough my friend. It gets better. People will become accustomed to you being an agent and will start to use your services.

@Jesse Smith that’s definitely a lot of money left on the table. Why not just tell them, exactly this?

Would they rather they line a complete stranger’s pocket or you their friend?

From the sound of it, they didn’t even give you an opportunity to see what you can do for them. If they don’t see it that way, maybe, it’s time for new friends.

@Jesse Smith Much has already been mentioned. The issues you speak of comes down to trust of your skills. Part-timers just get a bad rap imo. Stop worrying about what your friends do or what decisions they make and start working on filling your time adding more contacts and having more conversations with people you meet. I am a part-timer and it took me a while to find my happy medium. Talk to potentials at least 4 times a year 75% of the time NOT about real estate. Let people know what you do, but don't focus on it, become friends, and work to help them in areas they need. As you get to know more people you won't be able to keep up with everyone (4 times a year will seem like a lot). If friends want your knowledge and you want to get paid, ask them to be a client. Just like asking for referrals. When your "friends" see you successful with strangers they will seek you out. I just returned from a dinner party, where a friend (and past client, whom was a client before he was a friend) was there, raving about my skills. Best marketing in the world.

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