“I Prefer Not to Mix Business & Friendship”
This might sound like the college breakup “It’s not you, it’s me”, but there is a lot of value in this old expression. While you might have other reasons why you won’t work with your friend, a simple “I care about our friendship more than a transaction” will usually suffice.
Be Intentionally Vague
If you’ve mentioned the move to your friend, he or she will probably start asking for specifics. Tell your friend that you’re not sure exactly when you want to make the move, or that you haven’t decided if you will keep the house as a rental (and use a property manager) or sell. This gives you the opportunity to interview other agents, and if you find someone more competent, it’s a lot easier to explain that you’ve signed a listing agreement after the fact, than while you’re making the decision.
Don’t Say Anything at All
If you don’t tell your friend that you’re considering a move, then they won’t have the opportunity to pressure you into signing a listing agreement with them. After you have the property listed, you can use any number of explanations as to why you listed with another company.
If you don’t mind a quick uncomfortable conversation (that’s ultimately for the best) then you can be up front with your friend (without insulting them.) Tell your friend if you feel anxiety about the transaction, and tell your friend that you really want what’s best for you and your loved ones. While there might be some bruised feelings, it’s generally nothing that a strong friendship can’t survive.
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