Friends, Family — & Clients: Tough Mix

You can love your pet, just don’t LOVE your pet.

–“The Truth About Cats & Dogs” (1996)

That’s one of my favorite lines from the movie starring Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman.

Oddly enough, it also applies to Realtors’ relationships with their clients (and I mean that in a non-patronizing way!).

Certainly, there are lots of Realtors out there who’ve successfully worked with close family, friends, etc.

However, Realtors who LOVE (vs. love) their clients do so at their (and their client’s) peril, for a couple of reasons.

One. They tend to over-identify — and therefore react emotionally.

Case in point: your best friend/client gets a lowball offer — not exactly uncommon today.

Instead of taking it for what it is — a sort of backhanded compliment — you get indignant, or even mad.

That doesn’t help advance any possible deal.

Two. They suppress bad news.

Your best friend/client’s home isn’t selling — or even getting showings — after 4 months on the market.

The obvious conclusion is that it’s overpriced, understaged — or some combination of both.

Instead of relaying that news, you ignore or deny it, letting market time continue to creep up and making the inevitable upcoming price reduction bigger than it has to be.

Three. They over-empathize.

Your best friend/client has lost their job, and is underwater on their house (that is, they owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth).

Instead of telling them what their home is likely to sell for, you let yourself be persuaded that it’s worth what your friend “needs” it to be worth (memo to sellers: homes are never worth what you “need” — only what the market is paying).

Bottom line: friends need to be loyal, supportive, and empathetic.

Realtors need to be objective, rational, and business-like.

The two roles may not be mutually exclusive . . . but it’s not a natural combination, either.

P.S.: So what about Realtors who don’t even like their clients? Or come to hate them? (Rare, but it can happen.)

Thought #1: everyone probably already knows. Thought #2: probably best to move on, for everyone concerned.

The predicament reminds me of a cartoon that shows a lawyer on the operating room table, when suddenly there’s a blip on the EKG monitoring his heart rhythm. The lawyer bolts upright, and says to the surgeon, “I’ll have you know, I’m one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in town, and if you screw up this operation, I’ll bankrupt you.”

The second frame of the cartoon shows a thought bubble above the surgeon’s head, with him thinking to himself, “Hmmm. . . . . “

The third frame shows the lawyer back on the operating room table, with the EKG now . . . flat.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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