With tens of thousands of Realtors in our region, it’s pretty likely that you know someone who sells real estate for a living. And if you’re planning on buying (or selling!) a home anytime soon, the thought of whether or not to use them has probably crossed your mind — or maybe they know of your plans and have even approached you about it.
So should you hire them as your agent? Generally speaking, we advise against working with family members or close friends for a couple of reasons. A big reason that clients are wary of hiring a loved one is due to privacy reasons. One clever buyer even quipped, “If your Uncle was a doctor, would you want him to be the physician to intimately examine you if something was wrong? Would you want him to have access to your private medical records?” While your Realtor may or may not ever see your credit score, they will become familiar with your income, savings accounts, and budget.
Another reason is that sometimes things just don’t go as planned. In fact, some people even say that real estate brings out the worst in people! Luckily, the vast majority of real estate deals end with a satisfied client, but once in a while things can go awry and it could get awkward — even if it’s not your Realtor’s fault. The last thing we would want is a broken relationship with a family member or friend. Plus, your loved one might not be an expert in the neighborhood where you’re moving, or you may have concerns that they will think they know what’s best for you.
There are also times when hiring a family member or friend might be a great idea. If you’re comfortable with them knowing your personal financial information and trust that your relationship is strong enough to withstand any of these challenges, hiring a family member or friend might be an excellent choice. You may feel more comfortable communicating with them than you would with anyone else, and they may also better understand your preferences.
If you choose to not hire a loved one, how can you gently tell them that you’d rather use a different agent? We recommend being open and honest from the beginning and explain that you’re uncomfortable mixing your great personal relationship with business. Most real estate agents will understand this, and respect that you told them ahead of time — instead of later learning that you used another agent! Another tip is to ask your family member or friend if they’d like to refer you to another great Realtor (as they’re likely to earn a small piece of the commission this way, too!).