A House Is Not a Home

4 Apr

Letterbalm Not for SaleDear LetterBalm: My husband and I are looking to buy a house. My sister-in-law suggested we work with her sister who is a realtor. All went well at first – she was working hard for us and listened to what we wanted. But it’s been weeks since she has shown us anything in our budget or meeting our needs. The houses are way too expensive, too large, too small or in bad school districts. Whenever we see something online we like, she’s slow to respond to our suggestions. We’re losing out on good properties. We need to tell her and our sister-in-law that we have decided to go with another real estate agent. What can we do to keep peace in the family?

–House Poor

This is another example of the dangerous shoals of mixing family and business. As long as you haven’t signed an exclusive contract with your realtor, you’re free to use another. But this leaves two individuals to deal with and hard feelings all around. Ms. L.B. suggests you give your current realtor one more chance.  If she doesn’t come through, you can honestly tell your sister-in-law it didn’t work out and you had to go with another broker. In the meantime, you and your husband sit down with her away from her office and (with all cellphones off) have a serious talk thusly, with each of you contributing to the conversation. A little ganging up is appropriate here:

Emily, clearly you’re a very good realtor who knows your business. But we have some concerns and we’d like to take a minute to review them. It’s been awhile since you’ve shown us a property that meets our needs. The places you’ve been showing us are too expensive, too large, too small or in bad school districts. We’ve offered suggestions on properties we’re interested in, but you haven’t responded quickly enough and we’re losing out. This is out of character for you. Is there a problem we don’t know about? Perhaps you’re too busy, and we understand that. You know that we’re serious buyers and we really want to work with you. So, we’ll give you another chance to come through and show us places that have real potential or we’ll have to go with someone else, which we certainly don’t want to do. Can we talk about this?

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