Selling Our Home: Husband Wants to Hire His Buddy as Agent

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Dear Robin:

My husband and I both LOVE your blog and read you every day!  I am so excited to hear you are working on getting a radio show because as far as I am concerned, radio sucks in Portland and I want to hear you!

OK, enough of my ass-kissing.  My husband and I are in the middle of a huge argument right now and want you to settle the score.  We are selling our home and have already purchased our next home so we want to sell quickly because carrying two mortgages is expensive.

My husband’s college friend Don changed careers from lawyer to real estate agent when he moved here from New York about 4 1/2 years ago.  He is independently wealthy (rich family) so doesn’t need to work that hard I guess because he doesn’t seem to do much real estate work at all – mostly he plays golf and dates a lot of young women.

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My husband wants to hire him for our listing but I think this is a lousy idea.  I want a seasoned and successful agent who has been local for many years handling this transaction.  Making matters worse, he asked his friend to be our agent before even talking to me, so now I am going to get the blame for shutting this guy out of what could be a great listing for him.   The house is worth over $1 million so it’s a nice commission.

So, Robin, who wins?  We await your wisdom!

Sally in Portland

Dear Sally:

First let’s tackle the most important part of your email: you are letting me settle this issue and make the decision about the listing.  This is the second time in the past week I’ve been told I am making the final call on a husband/wife disagreement and frankly, it makes me giddy.

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I thought it would take several years to develop a following of minions who would swear allegiance to my advice and take whatever path I set them without question.  It’s only been a few months and I’m already achieving this level of control and cult-like status amongst you all – girlfriend is ON FIRE!

In addition and in re: ass kissing, I have plenty of ass to kiss so “enough” is never enough.  Keep on keeping’ on.

I’m sorry, back to you.

I don’t envy you, Sally.  This is a lose-lose proposition, especially since your genius of a husband went ahead and promised the listing to this agent-come-lately before speaking with you about it.  In my house, that’s a very dumb move and behavior worthy of a spanking and a time-out.

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You are now in the terrible position of playing the Bitch Wife role to your husband’s Nice Guy.  But Bitch Wife you must be, for so many reasons I am sure to go over my word count limit today.

I suggest you hire an experienced professional agent to sell your home, rather than Mr. Sad Sack Too Afraid to Take the Oregon Bar Exam.

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There is nothing wrong with doing business with friends, so long as you follow some rules:

1. You should never hire a friend unless you are certain they are competent in their profession.  Do your due diligence, check their references and if you are satisfied they are good at their job, go for it!

2. You both need to set specific expectations at the outset.  There is nothing worse than someone being pissed at you because you haven’t met their unspoken suppositions.

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There are so many things that can go wrong when you don’t communicate effectively with your business partners.  You may be reluctant to take him to task when he doesn’t show up for the open house because he is elbow-deep in Barely Legal ‘Tang.  He may shy away from telling you your furniture is ugly floral crap and needs to be put in storage while the house is on the market.

Both sides here need to be open, honest and hold each other accountable in this transaction just as if you were doing business with someone who didn’t assist your husband in the great Klappa Klappa Gonorrhea panty raid of 1987.

3. When hiring a friend to do a job, take a look at the way they lead their personal life.  Do they return your calls promptly?  Are they disorganized, flakey and unreliable?  Is their life filled with drama and conflict?

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Conversely, are they dependable, supportive and kind?  You told me Don is a nice guy but he often cancels plans at the last minute and is in constant turmoil with his ex-wife and his ex-legal partners.  I do believe we call these things “red flags” so pay attention.

Unfortunately, your friend Don fails on points 1 and 3 listed above, which is why I wouldn’t give him this opportunity to sell your home.  You need to sell quickly and the market in your price range is still depressed in Portland.  I won’t lecture you on the wisdom of carrying two mortgages at once because me giving financial advice is akin to Sarah Palin telling you how to raise your kids.

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(AskDesCamp tangent/rant: I haven’t been writing the Sunday rant lately because mommy needs her weekends off, but today I saw something that made me laugh so hard I may have to draft one up this week.  If you have a moment, please click here: Sarah Palin is a Fucking Moron)

The problem with Don is he has never made any real efforts in his new line of work and he is a somewhat unreliable (but lovable) playboy who spends much more time traveling and getting laid than he does selling houses.  I’m not knocking him as a person – anyone who is independently wealthy has the right to pretend to have a job – I just wouldn’t trust him with such an important business matter.

I don’t think hiring a man who doesn’t take his job very seriously is the best way to sell your home quickly in a challenging market.  Due to his own choices he’s had very little success in the real estate business and is probably just using this “job” for creative tax accounting purposes.

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You told me he’s been involved with roughly 11 transactions since he began his new career almost 5 years ago and none of those transactions have exceeded $400,000.  That is an astonishing level of failure, whether purposeful or not.

Go forth and deliver the bad news but do so with cocktails and a hug.  You don’t have to tell him the truth about why you aren’t hiring him.  Instead, tell him you made a promise long ago to another agent that they could list your home when the time came.

Yes, I usually advocate for being honest with people, but in this case I think you could end up losing the friend if you tell him he sucks as an agent and therefore won’t get the listing.  Let’s call this a “white lie” and justify it that way, shall we?

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Good luck and stay in touch!

-Robin

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Assa

    Oh, please write a rant about the Wasilla Wendigo (credit to Jesse @ theimmoralminority.blogspot.com)… no one deserves it more than the arrogantly ignorant (ignorantly arrogant? Eh, both apply equally) Master Chef of Word Salad. Stupid should not be smug, also, too.

    The WW unwittingly summed up the GOP’s anti- choice and social support programs positions when she vomited out the statement that of all places a baby should be protected, it’s in the womb. Clearly, as none support food stamps, Head Start, daycare subsidies, minimum wage, universal health insurance or SCHIP, maternity leave or anything else that would elevate someone from a life of poverty and/or miserable circumstances.

    /end rant

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