The Relationship Debate is a Moot Point

There’s been alot of buzz about this whole “Relationship Marketing” discussion that Chris Smith (@Chris_Smith) started over at InmanNext.  (view the post here).  And where I proclaimed at the beginning of the discussion that I wouldn’t get involved – here I am devoting a blog post to it.

And so in the spirit of beating a dead horse – here’s my 2 cents on the situation.

Chris’s point:

Where I disagree is in the stance that I want to have a relationship with my Realtor.

I don’t.

In fact, I can’t even imagine it.

I’m not going to get into the whole back and forth.  Everyone from Jeff Turner (@respres) to Rob Hahn (@robhahn) and hundreds of others have dedicated hundreds of thousands of words to this topic.  You can check them out on your own or take a look at the really well written counter by Inna Hardison (@innahamedia) here.

I’m not about to launch into this again because I already did it over at  My comment is posted below.

I’m sorry but this whole argument has gone way past ridiculous.  Maybe Gen Y doesn’t want to have a relationship with their Realtor, Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, etc… but I doubt it.  Take a look at the definition of relationship anyway…

Here’s the thing – buying a home (or selling one) is not only a HUGE monetary decision, it is also one of the most personal purchases you will ever make.  So if you get a GOOD Realtor (and they aren’t all good – nor do they take the time to be involved to a level of concern in your life) that sits down with you prior to your purchase you should probably disclose or discuss the following details:

1 – What are you life plans for the next 5 -10 years?  Kids?  Marriage?  Move in with Partner?  Schools (public or private)?
2 – What is your lifestyle?  Party Person?  Single?  Homebody?  Gay/Straight? (yup – these come up in a buyer interview)
3 – What is your financial situation?  How much does your spouse make?  What debt do you have?
4 – What do you do for fun?  Music?  Athletics?  Exercise?
5 – Are mom and Dad involved in your life still?  Are they going to help with a down payment?
6 – Where do your friends live?
7 – What is your favorite food?
8 – Do you have a car?  What kind is it?  Do you park on the street or garage?
9 – Do you physically require light in your home or have any “special needs”?

Now ask yourself this – do you know this information about half of your so called “friends” on Facebook or Twitter?  Really?  Cuz I don’t and that doesn’t mean that I don’t call them friends.

All of those questions above come out in the drawn out process of seeking, discovering, and countless hours in the car with someone that is employed to help you buy a home (it’s a little different for sellers but not a ton).

So does this mean that you should hire someone JUST on the fact that they know this stuff?  Hellz no.  But… if you find someone that is professional, skilled, a great negotiator AND brings these skills to the table, then that’s a great find and someone that will help you out.

i.e. a Relationship has been built.  Maybe you’ll become friends?  Maybe not.  Maybe you’ll become BFF’s?  I really don’t know.

But I am sick and tired of people saying it’s either Black or White here – it’s either skills or relationships… and the answer is it’s both.  And that’s what separates the good agents from the great ones.

However when I read Inna’s post today (disclaimer: I was sitting in the fricking post office for 45 minutes behind a racist woman complaining about her health so I was already on edge) I snarked off with the following tweet.

Yeah I can be a snarky bitch at some points and for that I’m sorry to both Jay and Inna.  However, my point (which I made quite poorly) stays true:

Running your business by developing relationships is a choice – and where you are NOT going to develop a relationship with everyone (and even fewer if it’s not genuine) it’s simply a different business model.  Case Closed.

In 2005 I had the opportunity to hear a speaker by the name of Tim Sanders (@sanderssays) and it changed my life.  Tim (after jobs with Yahoo! and other leading companies) now considers himself a “People Centric Business Expert”.  I have been a fan of his ever since and even did an interview with him a year or so ago here about Scarcity vs. Abundance Thinking.  He is an author of many books, but one in particular changed my life indefinitely – Love is the Killer App.

The preface of “Love is the Killer App” is that the emergence of what time coins as “The Lovecat” in business.  Below is Tim’s description of a “Lovecat” and it’s importance in business today.

Here’s the long and short of all of this Rob-Hahn-esque dialouge…

“You can choose to run your business through relationships – or you cannot… it’s really up to you.”

However, I will attest to the fact that those clients, transactions or whatever you measure your business success by are much stronger when a relationship takes place – a true, honest and giving relationship.

This is where Chris’s post does have some legs however – too often agents (or other service providers) deliver “meh” service and believe that JUST because they did a transaction together, they are entitled or have established a “relationship”. News Flash – you haven’t. But many that I know, and those that are truly running “Relationship Based Businesses” have – and those are virtually bulletproof IF… IF… the service provided is to the same level as your friendship or relationship.

That’s just my 2 cents – and I will go out on a limb and call Chris’s bluff on “not wanting a relationship with his Realtor”. I know Chris (given not super well), but he’s not a social introvert or someone who is “unlikeable”. I’ll be willing to bet that if I was Chris’s Realtor – we’d end up having a relationship in the end.



  1. Matt – at least I got the “well written” from you, for which I humbly thank you. I think where a lot of this back and forth was losing me is in the comments to various threads where it was apparent quite a few real estate folks were confusing ‘staying in touch for the sake of getting referrals’ with “relationships”. I also think the largest point of Chris’s post was poorly acknowledged – which is the level of expertise and service one provides should be remarkable (“brilliant transaction”, to quote Chris). I am also of the belief that the sheer act of staying in touch is highly over-rated.
    Love and the truly caring relationship does involve obligations on all parties concerned. Not everyone is capable of extending themselves thus, nor should they be. Who we associate with is still an attraction of sorts, one that I find it hard to cultivate via those touch campaigns. Caring and love that are genuine – I am all for that; just don’t tie that to a transaction.:-)
    PS: Glad to have sort of met you through this, and absolutely no apology was necessary.

  2. I think I’m a love cat… :)

  3. Here it is.

    If you are a good/smart agent you have inventory. Without inventory you are dead in the water. I’d like to know how the #vendorsl*ts get their training. They really know nothing of how the industry REALLY works.

  4. I’m still mortified anti-relationships sentiment actually manifested as a blog post. At Inman Next of all places. I’m glad to see you underscore your point here. I’m embarrassed 1) for anyone who has hired any of the Realtors arguing against relationship, 2) for Inman 3) for anyone who will ever hire a Realtor and 3) offended for the rest of the wonderful Real Estate practitioners who get it.
    Oh, and GenY values relationships just as much and in some cases more than their Boomer parents. Oh I mean, wait, nothing exists for human beings outside of social interactions.

    Thanks, Matt.

  5. Thanks brother – I agree. However you should check out @robhahn’s post at (his rebuttle to this) – it’s got some pretty good points.

  6. Inna – thanks for commenting. As I have stated here, the service needs to be equal to that of the level of relationship or nothing is beneficial to the consumer. Thanks again.


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