How Can Our Friends Choose a Realtor Other Than My Husband?


My husband is an experienced Realtor. Like many, he has stories of friends who choose not to use him in their real estate transactions. Their excuse is usually that they don’t want to mix business with friendship. (This suggests to me that they don’t believe the friendship is strong enough to weather the experience or that my husband isn’t professional enough to provide top-notch service.) He has lost friends who promised to use him and then didn’t — and others who didn’t even give him a chance to make his case. They have caused him personal and financial pain. One good friend listed her home recently without even telling him. My husband is a sensitive soul, and it angers me to see him hurt by thoughtless friends. Advice?


Feeling protective of our loved ones is a great quality — until it tips into one-sidedness. Here, I applaud your sensitivity to your husband’s distress, but you don’t seem to acknowledge the larger context: For most of us, buying or selling a home is the biggest transaction of our lives, and choosing a real estate agent who we believe will create the best outcome for us ranks higher than giving a buddy a job.

Now, we real estate civilians may be mistaken in our assessment of the best broker for the job. (It’s still our call, though!) And I have had both good and horrendous experiences speaking to broker friends after I decided not to hire them. So, I understand the difficulty on both sides.

My advice: Try to identify less with your husband and be more supportive of him. Rather than becoming outraged on his behalf, it would probably be more useful to help him manage his hurt feelings — which are understandable. Let him vent, then remind him that friends are making high-stakes decisions with imperfect information. It will serve him better, personally and professionally, to wish these friends well than to sever ties with them. Remember: There may be several transactions in a lifetime!

Like many, my life was turned upside-down by the pandemic. I was living in New York but moved back to Seattle to take care of my mother. (My father had just died.) We adopted a dog that I hoped would become her new companion. I told her I would stay for a year to help raise the puppy, but I stayed for four. Now, I have an opportunity to move back to New York, but I can’t take the dog with me. The problem: My mother isn’t as bonded to the dog as I am. I thought we were getting it for her, but whenever I mention leaving, she says: “What will I do with the dog?” Thoughts?


I have no doubt about your good intentions, but it is terrifically unwise to adopt pets for other people. Now, I may be mistaken, but it seems as if you never had a clear agreement with your mother: You hoped she would come to love the dog, but did she ever agree to become its sole caretaker?

As for your current dilemma, be direct: Ask your mother if she will keep the dog. If you can afford it, you may lighten her burden with professional dog walkers. If she refuses, you will have to weigh the benefits of moving against the cost to the dog of placing it in a shelter and reneging on your promise to care for it. (Are you sure you can’t bring it to New York with you?)

I arrived late for my manicure and pedicure appointment. So, the spa was able to provide me with only one service. I chose the manicure. Still, they said I was responsible for paying for both services. I was surprised, but I understood their policy. The question: Should I have tipped for both services or just the manicure?


Ah, the endless permutations on tipping! We have no obligation to tip for services we do not receive. However, when I use personal service providers regularly — a barber, for instance, or a masseur — and I miss a scheduled appointment without notice (and deprive them of income), I make them whole: They shouldn’t suffer for my behavior.

I pay for the service, if requested, and place a cash tip in the service provider’s hands. In many establishments, that is the only way to be sure that he or she will receive my tip. This is not a rule, mind you; this is simply what I do.

My husband and I do not drink alcohol — partly for our health and better sleep, but the deeper reason is that both my adult children struggle with alcohol use. The issue arises when we invite people into our home for meals. For years, we served alcohol and didn’t drink it ourselves. More recently, though, we’ve decided we don’t want alcohol in the house at all. Is this OK? I worry about being a good host.


It’s more than OK! It’s terrific that you and your husband have made a thoughtful decision about what works best for you and your family in your home. Guests who want a martini before dinner will learn to have one before they come over.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on X.


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