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Friend or Foe: Building Relationships with Real Estate Agents

Aug 6, 2008
You don't have to be in the business of real estate investing for very long before you hear the ongoing controversy - should you work with real estate agents or not? Some will tell you, absolutely not. The reason is that real estate agents are unfamiliar with the real estate investing side of the business; therefore they will not be receptive to creative deals.

While that may be true, the real truth may be that real estate investors have not always shown their best side when working with an agent and therefore have created their own bad reputation. If you approach agents as you would any other business venture and work to build a relationship on trust, in the long run such a relationship could possibly net you thousands of dollars in profits.

Give Value First

Find an agent that has a number of signs up in the neighborhood where you primarily work. Contact that agent and lay the groundwork for a relationship. In your business - if you are marketing correctly - you will be getting leads that aren't suited for your real estate investing business. Perhaps they are not flexible on terms or price. Pass that contact information on to this agent. If you start out by giving value rather than demanding that this agent bend your direction, you will build trust.

As you get to know one another, explain the types of properties you are looking for. You are looking for the fixer uppers that the agent would be embarrassed to show to any retail buyer. Of course the agent understands now that you are going to resell. If you are the rehabber and will be the one selling to the end-user, you stand to gain if you then list the property with this agent. Even if you could make more by selling it yourself (by owner), in this instance, paying the commission would be a wise investment. Now you have offered the agent two ways to profit on one property. Additionally, you can offer a short closing date. What agent wouldn't like to close in a ten-day time frame?

Reasonable Earnest Deposit

As a real estate investor, if all you are going to put down as earnest money is a few bucks, don't bother with an agent. Why take the chance of offending him or her? Be ready to hand over at least $500. Again, if you do business in an ethical and trustworthy manner, that agent will bend over backward to return the favor.

Expired Listings

Ask your agent ally for the information on expired listings. These are properties that didn't sell but the listing with the agent has now expired. Oftentimes these owners are more motivated because of the long delay with no sale. They are great candidates for you to contact and see if you can put a deal together. There are bargain properties in these listings. If you are able to help that owner get out of the property, then everyone wins.

Information at Your Fingertips

When you are out in the field, you may need property information quickly. If your relationship with this agent is well established, now you will feel at ease in calling and asking for your friend to look it up for you. You might need to know rent prices in the area, or comps of nearby sales. This is a tremendous benefit to your real estate investing business when that kind of information is yours for the asking.


As you can see, working with a real estate agent is no different than any other kind of business relationship that is built on trust. To view real estate agents as your competition, or even as the enemy, is totally self-defeating and can eventually cost you dearly. Essentially you are in the same business and each of you can benefit from the other.

Make it your goal to cultivate a select group of agents with whom you can work closely. After a few years of this type of relationship building, you will look back and see the thousands of dollars worth of deals that have come your way that you would never have found on your own.
About the Author
Iman Yusef-Yahya finds some of the very best
below market deals in the country.
Find out how you can
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