Hiring Your Friend as Your Guelph Realtor

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Hiring Your Friend as Your Realtor - Kelly CaldwellA while ago, a friend of mine told me a friend of hers was selling his Guelph home, and lamented that it was was not going well for him. Word from her friend was that there was virtually no sales activity and the listing agent didn’t seem to be working on getting people through the door.

She asked me to go and take a look at the listing online, which I did. What I found was, of course, the listing detail. Other than that, nothing. No virtual tour. No scheduled open houses for Realtors or for the public. Just a short write-up and a series of dimly-lit, blurry images of the home that had clearly been taken using a smart phone. I said to my friend, “he hired a buddy… didn’t he.” And sure enough, he had. Fast forward to months later, additional marketing done at the seller’s initiative (and expense, if you can believe it) and, as memory serves, at least one if not two price reductions. The house sold, but it took far too long, and ultimately it went for less than it was worth.

Why? Because someone hired a buddy who happened to be a Guelph Realtor without first taking some basic steps to determine whether or not his pal was a good Realtor.

I’m not saying don’t hire a friend. Outside of family there is nothing more important to me than my close friendships. However, buying or selling a home is a huge financial investment and you’ve got to get it done right, both on the buy and the sell. That means: Hire a good Realtor. If he or she happens to be your friend, awesome. Talk about a win-win! One of the upsides to working with a friend is that, presumably, he or she knows you inside and out, and you know that person has your back. Both are vitally important when you are buying or selling a home in Guelph.

But there can be downsides, too, and the main one is this: What if your friend really isn’t the best person for the job?

Here are your two best options, as I see it:

  1. Hire Your Friend – but only after you’ve asked him or her to do a formal presentation, and only if he or she has truly impressed you. Tell your friend that you are interviewing three (or whatever number) agents and that he or she is one of them. If that friend is offended, so be it – but I would argue that any true professional in this business doesn’t take offense at being asked to “win” someone’s business. It’s part of the job.
  2. Ask Your Friend to Refer You to Someone Else – if you are certain you don’t want to mix business and personal. As Realtors, we have the opportunity to refer clients out to colleagues, and in doing so we typically receive a portion of that other Realtor’s fees. So this is a way for you to opt out of having your friend represent you directly, but still give him some credit and the opportunity to participate in the transaction in a very arms-length way. And it’s a lot easier to hear, “We really want someone that isn’t a friend, because that is complicated – but we’d like you to get a referral fee… so who can you recommend?” versus, “We felt awkward and just called so-and-so.”

Every case is different, and every friendship is unique – so use your best judgement. But never just ‘give’ someone your business when it comes to something this important. Let them earn it, and move forward knowing you’ve hired a buddy, but more importantly you’ve hired the best person for the job.

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Buying a House in a Seller's Market in GuelphThe Guelph Real Estate Market in 2014
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