We have all had a friend or family member that wanted us to buy something from them.
Makeup, clothes, furniture…the list goes on. I personally love shopping local and supporting my friends and family, but what about that age-old saying “don’t mix business with pleasure”?
After years of serving people, I’ve come up with a way to find out if working with someone will be a good fit, whether or not they are a friend or family member. So if you’re trying to decide if you should turn a personal relationship to a professional one, here are several questions to ask yourself first.
Is this person an expert in their field?
Malcolm Gladwell discussed becoming an expert in his best-selling book, “Outliers.” He proposes that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at any given topic. That’s about 10 years. So it takes about 10 years of intentional, mindful studying and practice to be able to claim expert status. Look at any given field. Electrician, beautician, auto mechanic, clothing designer, etc. They all take years to hone their crafts. When considering who to trust with my money, I’m forced to ask myself “has this person done the work and put in the time to become an expert?”
Is this person trustworthy with personal information?
If someone gossips to me, then the chances are high that they are gossiping about me to someone else. Sharing stories to communicate a point can be done in a way that doesn’t violate trust or professional standards. When I consider working with someone, I always take into consideration how they speak of past client relationships. I have decided that I only partner with people who are transparent and honest enough to give it to me straight, but not too boisterous or open-mouthed about personal information, especially about an investment or big decision. A real estate agent should ONLY be speaking with you and their designated broker about your transactions. Period. No excuses.
Can I ask questions without being made to feel stupid?
Every profession has an inside language. Heck, every FAMILY has an inside language! If someone is specialized in a field, they should feel secure enough to explain it to me in a way I can understand. If they aren’t willing to inform me or take the time to answer my questions, I probably don’t want to work with them. Especially if it’s a financial investment! A sure-fire sign of expert status is that they can clearly lay out the stages or processes of their profession to an industry outsider without using inside language or jargon.
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Can I accept constructive criticism from this person?
This goes hand in hand with being able to ask questions. If I am going to trust someone with my time and money, and they have the heart of a teacher and want to help me, there are bound to be things that come up where I just don’t know what is best because I don’t do it full time! So if my electrician is able to explain the rationale behind a process, I need to be able trust their experience enough to go with their recommendation, even if it varies from an opinion I had already formed. Of course, this is only after I am secure that they have my best interest in mind, not just that of their bank account.
Is this person level-headed in difficult situations?
Financial purchases can turn emotional quickly! I have found that a big portion of my job is to help keep people grounded and focused on the facts at hand. If someone folds under pressure over small matters, it’s safe to assume that they will fold under big matters, too. It is important to make sure that your real estate professional has a level-headed viewpoint when it comes to negotiating repairs and closing terms. You need someone who can help find solutions, not exacerbate problems.
If your answer was “No” to any of these questions, then you need to have a tough conversation with this friend or family member. If it’s not a good fit, that is okay! It is totally valid to explain to them ahead of time that you are concerned about putting the relationship at risk. Any friend worth their weight will understand, and may even have the same thoughts.
On the other hand, if you were able to say “Yes” to all of these questions about the person you were visualizing, then it is probably fine to work with them! Personally, I have found that friends and family members tend to do a BETTER job and care more about protecting me than someone that I don’t have a connection with, as long as we both go into the agreement with a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.