Dear Monty: We plan to sell our house soon. My wife’s sister has a son who’s a realtor. We don’t want to use him, but we know that it risks straining our relationship with his sister if we don’t. We wonder if you have any suggestions.
Monty’s response: Having a relative or close friend who has a sibling as a real estate agent has been an enigma for decades. One of the considerations for not using it is why you don’t like it. Suppose you know something about him that his mother doesn’t. You don’t want to lie to him and you don’t want to tell him why. The potential causes are countless.
There are many options to consider. When I was a real estate agent in the field and management agents, the reasons below are the reasons why we sometimes did not get the business. Your situation may prevent you from using some of them. Nevertheless, you can find one or two scenarios that you can create to circumvent or minimize the repercussions.
OPTIONS TO CONSIDER
No. 1: The “strictly professional” option. Tell your sister-in-law up front that you plan to interview her, but that you will also get several opinions from other agents. Explain that you know that not all real estate companies and agents operate the same way. They have different marketing tactics and different types of training and supervision, and some don’t. They all have different success rates in your neighborhood. Tell him that this is a business decision and that you are looking out for your best interests. He may get the business, but if he does, it will be on merit, not because he is his son.
No. 2: The “without family” approach. A lot can go wrong in real estate and other business transactions. We never use a friend or relative in business dealings so that we can treat them objectively if something goes wrong. If we suffered financial loss and had to take legal action to recover, we don’t want to sue a friend or relative.
No. 3: A friend in the trade. Maybe you have a friend in the industry. You have been friends for years. This approach is the exact opposite of the no-family approach, but it can work just fine if you can find a real friend in the business.
No. 4: The sponsored link option. We have to use ABC Realty because we found our new place thanks to them and they offer us a considerable reduction in fees. They have also sold more homes in our neighborhood than any other company.
No. 5: The stealth selling approach. If you haven’t told him about your plan yet, don’t mention it. Sell the house, move into your new home, and casually say you appreciate your new surroundings at the next family reunion. She may be shocked, but “it happened so fast, I forgot to mention it.”
No. 6: The last resort. Just hold your breath and use it. You can find a better solution. Some people may think you are faking what was a real reason for someone else. The idea is to create the option you have chosen. For example, you may have a friend in the business.
Richard Montgomery is the author of “Money from Home: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home.” It advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty or at DearMonty.com.
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