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How to help my friend/family who's a real estate agent earn a referral fee?

You’re ready to start looking for a home and your friend or family member is a  part-time real estate agent. She’s been in the business long enough to close a deal every year or two, and you know she’ll be hurt if you do not use her as your agent.  You may have a serious dilemma, right?

You will, if your dear friend or family member isn’t a full-time practicing agent, and doesn’t know her way around the shifting market place of the last five years, Winforms, short sales, foreclosures and the MLS.

Perhaps she’s nice enough, but you would feel really guilty if you didn’t use her, or a friend, or a friend of a friend – even though they might not be the most professionally qualified to guide you through the largest investment you’ll ever make!

If you’re not concerned, you should be! 

Most clients I have spoken with who began a transaction with the wrong agent (friend or family member) and/or eventually closed that transaction will say, “I’ll never do that again!”

What can you do to keep peace? 

If you know someone close to you with a real estate license, who may not
necessarily be the most qualified to help, ask the agent you select, if they’d be willing to pay a referral fee?

That’s right! Most agents would gladly pay your Aunt Mildred a referral fee and still give you the professional service you deserve when making the largest investment of your life. 

So, here’s what you do: 

  • Interview an agent, or three.
  • Check their experience and knowledge base of the area you’re interested in buying or selling.
  • Ask for the telephone numbers of their last three clients and call them to see if they’d rehire them.
  • Finally, ask them if they’d be willing to pay your aunt, friend or whomever the licensee is (who’s feelings you don’t want to hurt) a referral fee? 
  • Note: They must currently have an active real estate or broker’s license in order to receive a referral fee.

I think you’ll find that most agents will understand your dilemma and gladly pay one. That means, when your transaction successfully closes a percentage of the commission earned by the agent you selected, who successfully guided you through the transaction, will be paid to the licensee you identified during the interview.  

Jim Cheeseman

Jim Cheeseman
LEED Accredited Professional



CA BRE #01265543

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