ethical dilema about realtor

happymary45October 14, 2009

Hi all,

I know this question has been addressed in various posts before, but I need to know what everyone thinks about MY particular situation.

Here it goes. I have a friend, an old friend, since middle school, who is a realtor. Over the years, I would ask her if I could see various old houses. She knew I wasn't in any position to buy, although we had talked about it and I told her that when the time came and I was ready to sell my house and buy another, she could handle it for me.

Well, now I have to sell (divorce). I want her to handle it for me. However, she is now a full-time student with a full time job and does real estate on the side. With my rotten divorce situation, I feel as if I need to get things going, and I'm just afraid she won't have the time and energy to put into it properly. I KNOW I need to stay with her as a realtor. I don't want a million people telling me I'm just looking for a way out of using her when she helped me before, blah, blah, blah. I'm just worried. I have tried to reach her and haven't heard back from her in days.

Any thoughts?

thanks in advance...

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Are you close enough where you could just have an honest discussion with her and say, "Look, I really need to sell quickly. With all that you have going on, do you think you have the time and energy to sell this quickly for me and be proactive?"

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 10:49AM
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How honest can you be with her? Because while I do agree that you have an obligation of sorts, you also have some very valid concerns.

1 - Your friendship is important to you and you don't want a stressful business relationship to damage your friendship.
2 - You feel a sense of obligation because of her past efforts and aren't trying to 'cheat' her out of a commission.
3 - The sale of your house is extremely important to you, and you need to sell quickly for top dollar.
4 - She is now a full-time student and part-time Realtor, which is a positive step for her, and one you support.
5 - And you're concerned she won't have the time or energy, and don't want your concern about her priorities to taint your perceptions of her efforts.

What about asking her to SPLIT the listing with a full-time agent of her choice in her office. Someone who would be available when she is in class? And someone to 'take the fall' if things aren't going well?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:12AM
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Will you be buying another property? If so, why not just use her on that end and not as your listing agent as well? After all, that was what she was doing for you before anyway: showing you properties. When you add in the fact that her situation has changed and she is now a full-time student, I don't see any obligation on your part to have her as your listing agent.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:19AM
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one idea:

If she works for a franchise company with a number of agents, she can "partner" with one of them on the listing.

That way you'll have 2 agents working on your behalf!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 1:21PM
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Ethically I don't see that you need to hire her, since she made a decision to become a student. Her descion has postive and negative consequences which she needs to accept. Part time "on the side" real estate agents are not very viable. Also, unless you are a 100% owner of you home then this decision affects your ex or soon to be ex.
I would not hire her, and be up front and tell her why, and would feature in the discussion that if you were not going thru divorce you would have some more flexibilty.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 1:54PM
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At the very least, you can let her refer the listing;
she can refer the listing to another agent to represent you, & that agent will pay her a referral fee at closing.

Put yourself in her position:
she's acted in good faith with you,
she's shown you homes when you acknowledged that you couldn't buy,
she's been your friend.

While you can get away with not listing with her & not even talking to her, I think if you *don't* involve her in some way, you're likely to lose a friendship.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 2:48PM
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wow, thanks for all the great advice. I don't feel so "alone" about this anymore. I think one of the best suggestions was about her helping me to find a house, but not sell mine, because, yes, I'm going to be buying another house. that seems like a great compromise. I will approach the subject with her, gently, and see how she reacts. What if she reacts badly??

thanks for the support, everyone.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 3:18PM
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Can you use the divorce as a back-out as to whom to use for the listing part?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 3:51PM
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There's no need to lock her out of either the listing or the sale;

just get her to partner with another agent in her firm.

It's another one of those Golden Rule things;

if the situation were reversed, & you'd already shown your friend houses & she'd promised to have you sell her home & help her buy another, what would you want your home-selling friend to do?

Would you feel that your friendship mattered to her at all?
just maybe not more than selling that house?

How would your friendship be affected if she listed with someone else?

Divorce is a reason to sell the house, it's no reason to treat friends badly.

Telling her that you aren't listing with her because...uh, because you need to sell the house ("I'd have listed with you otherwise"???)...won't wash.

If you lock her out & she "reacts badly", as she's very likely to do, I guess you'll know you've torpedoed a friendship.

& even if she doesn't "react badly", make a scene, cry, whatever, she'll be very hurt, & your friendship will never be the same.

Even if she manages to cover her shock & feelings of betrayal, why would she put any weight at all to your "friendship" in the future?

I've been selling real estate for a very long time, & I've seen spats & squabbles & back-stabbings at the closing table, & brothers & sisters fighting over the crumbs of their parents' estates, & I've concluded that you can *always* sell a house or buy a house, but once the transaction is completed, life goes on.

Friends are vastly important, & they grow more precious the longer you have them.

You do *not* want to waste a friendship over selling a house, *& you don't have to sacrifice one iota of service or expertise in order to do right by your friend*.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 6:09PM
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I agree that you do not want to waste a friendship over a house, but I also agree if she is not a good agent at this time, have an open discussion with her, explaining your situation and concern. If she is a true friend she will also do what is best for you in this situation.
I don't understand how you would not sacrifice one iota of service or expertise by hiring a full time student to sell your house?
Oh, do you only mean partnering with another agent, what if she refuses?.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:08PM
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Sylvia has given you a great out with the referral to another agent. And your friend has provided you with the rest of said that you have tried to contact her and she has not gotten back to you. I would not hesitate to call her one more time, give her a deadline and then contact another if she doesn't respond. IMO you have done your part.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 8:29AM
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I will approach the subject with her, gently, and see how she reacts. What if she reacts badly??

Then she'll react badly, and it will be up to her as to when she chooses to act friendly again. You can't control somebody else's actions or reactions -- all you can do is deliver what you have to say in the kindest possible way.

I think the facts that you need to sell as expeditiously as possible and she's no longer a full-time realtor make your situation pretty clear, and if she's got any sense at all, she'll understand why you won't be using her services. Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 11:04AM
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I also have a friend that does real estate part time. She offered to list my mom's house for me for no charge except to forgive a small debt. It sold within a week (this was in March 2007).

She had it on and the house had a sign, a lockbox, and a contract with a showing service. Most of the time when a house is listed the listing agent doesn't sell it. My friend never showed it but it was shown a lot by other realtors since it was on MLS.

I had cleaned it very well and staged it and it showed well. My friend took good pictures (better then most of the pictures I see on MLS)and she really didn't have to do anything else until it sold.

The part of your story that worries me is that she hasn't called you back.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:38PM
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I agree with happiladi that she doesn't need the time for showing it etc. but she needs to be available to answer questions from buyer/other agents, be there if an offer comes in etc. It is worrisome that she hasn't gotten back to you.

I do think if you ask to share a realtor due to not wanting to impose on her time with school and other work and she reacts badly then it was probably time for the friendship to end anyways. I mean you are looking out for yourself in that case as well as trying to be a friend and if she can't see that then I'm not sure the friendship is worth much.

If I were your friend I would not be offended in the least by you asking for a co-realtor for the listing.

Does your Significant Other have any say in what realtor to use? I know my friend had a rough time picking the realtor she wanted because her soon to be ex didn't agree just to be difficult. They finally settled on a team of realtors. That realtor was smart and engaged a male realtor in her office to talk to him and he agreed to use them as a team.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 4:18PM
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You need to have a gentle and true conversation with your friend; but one where you actually start the conversation - thinking that hiring her will be in your best interest. Because - it probably is...

She is an actual friend, and truly wants to see you succeed - and most RE are not your friend, and unfortunately - care mostly for only the $$$

I, am not a RE. My wife is. She takes great photos, makes slide shows, virtual tours, etc. Sometimes, I help her out with the photos.

The very first house my lovely wife sold, - the buyers agent asked her to commit fraud, and then later the BANK loan officer called up, and asked her to commit fraud. She told the LOAN officer - what you are suggesting is FRAUD.

The loan officer back peddled...

One of my points in all this: Most RE agents are so BUSY with the numerous houses that they are selling - that they DON'T actually give you much time... All they do is throw up a couple of pictures and call it good...

This person is your FRIEND, and wants to see you succeed. If she can't actually do you a good job - she WILL tell you. I just can't see how hiring her in TOTAL - without anyone else - can actually be any 'worse' than the majority of work done by RE agents.

I know a lot of RE agents are going to be pissed, and say how hard they work, and I KNOW my wife works EXTREMELY hard, but that hard work is in explaining all the legal stuff, taking photos, doing open houses, and on, and on, and on.

I have just seen WAY to much abuse from RE agents to clients. My Dad just sold his house. Our (my) family didn't want to use my wife (we're 'family') and the photos (lack of) on this deal made me sick. And this was a prestigious team of realtors. Then WE (who don't have anything to do with the listing - because we are family) get all the initial various questions from family members about what was happening with the deal... After 1.25 years - this team finally managed to get this house sold for way under price...

OH Well. Can't argue with my Dad or family. Not my house, and not my money.

I just see to many agents who really don't care about the client. We live in Seattle. When my wife was interviewing for her first space - a manager at a Windermere Office told her LITERALLY to her FACE - that the office's policy was to NOT care about the client. They cared ONLY for the money - and he didn't think she cared enough about the money - and would be caring for the clients - so he would not 'hire' her... course my wife is thinking - AND I WOULDN'T WORK FOR YOU!!

But RE is a dog eat dog world. I don't believe all Windermere offices are like that; the Manager (Broker) is obviously the individual who sets the tone...

She eventually worked(s) for a very nice agency - but they recently changed ownership - and are now pushing to have their agents push home warranties onto the clients...

The agents whom my Dad hired - in my humble opinion - did not care for my dad - they certainly did not actually advertise the house properly - and only cared for the 'money'.

So, honest agents exist. And lots of semi-honest, mostly working for themselves agents exist. And unfortunately - lots of dishonest, and unethical agents exist.

I know this is a long rant... but I would really encourage you to just ask your friend. Since she is your friend - she will tell you if she can help you out. And like I previously mentioned - not actually having a ton of listings can be to your benefit. Rather have her spend 1hr a day trying to sell your home - than an agent who has 20 houses in 1 month and tons of open houses to 'do'... and doesn't actually have the TIME to properly market your house, and doesn't actually care about it - since they have so much business already! Most agents these days market your home only by putting it up in MLS. Which is not much marketing.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 1:02AM
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