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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate [#8]

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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate #8: Stay Ahead of Your “Peers”


Learning Tech Tips

I don’t know about YOU, but I have learned more about technological tips and tricks as a blogger than I EVER did as your regular, run of the mill, non-blogging real estate agent.

No, this is not a direct result of blogging, but it is a very powerful INDIRECT benefit of blogging, and a very important way that I use blogging in real estate.

What Have I Learned?

It’s more like what have I NOT learned. Almost all the things that I do, as a real estate agent, are tied, somehow to what I have learned since I began blogging in 2006. The top 3 technological benefits that blogging has brought to me is: Listing Tools, SEO and Social Interwebbing.

Listing Tools

My interaction with other real estate bloggers has given me advanced knowledge (compared to my local peers) of awesome tools that I can use for my listings.

  • Real Estate Shows – This has to be my all-time favorite listing tool. It costs just $125 a year and gives me unlimited amounts of “virtual tours” of both my listings and various neighborhoods. My seller clients love them. My potential buyer clients love them and I just think it is one of the coolest things ever. What’s more? Real Estate Shows offers a flyer template that syndicates to different real estate sites and even includes a version for CraigsList. .
  • VFlyer and Postlets – I had no idea what a “virtual flyer” was before I started blogging. Nor did I know how to use it. I figure the more virtual flyers that are out there pimping my listings, the better for me and my sellers. Right?

SEO

As I began to blog, I started learning more and more about SEO. By no means am I an SEO expert, but since I have started blogging, I have garnered enough knowledge on this topic to know:

  • Who to turn to when I have questions ( JackMaryBrian )
  • What to avoid when putting together a SEO-able post
  • Who to stay away from when seeking advice
  • What to read to learn more ( SEO SchoolSEOBook )

This bit of knowledge has given me the upper hand when evaluating my competition. I can smell a spammer a mile away, and am confident that they wont be “competition” much longer. This allows me to focus my energies on building my web presence in a way that ensures my search engine placement, and not waste my time trying to compete with an eventual nothing.

Social Interwebbing

As a blogger I have joined um-teen social networks, and have made many, many friends. These are the friends that I know I can turn to when I have questions or concerns about different technological difficulties that I run into. These are the friends I can turn to when I need advice about a new platform or web application. These are friends that keep me on my toes and ahead of the curve when it comes to ALL things real estate.

So even though this is not a go-and-do kind of blogging idea, staying ahead of your “peers” is an extremely valuable way that you can use blogging in real estate.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    September 30, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Exactly, couldn’t have said it better. I’m mean how many of your competitors know to check backlinks on Google? Really? I check my competition all the time and I learned it all from blogging, as you said indirectly.

  2. Mark Madsen

    September 30, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Excellent article, Mariana. I had a great discussion today with Marcy about your blog and how a lender can team up with an agent for the purpose creating more online business.

    Regarding flyers – check out ClassifiedFlyerAds.com. I think their SEO might work well with your neighborhood articles.

    mm

  3. Ben Goheen

    September 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Hi Mariana,
    I’m glad you mentioned Real Estate Shows as doing virtual tours, NOT videos. I can’t tell you how much it annoys me when an agent says they do videos on their listings when really it’s just photos moving across the screen to some crappy John Tesh wannabe music. I’d rather just look at the photos at my own pace and not have to turn down the volume on my computer.

    Rand and the crew over at SEOmoz (https://www.seomoz.org) are another great source of SEO information. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Ben, you’re right, “video” implies movement in images, not movement of images. In fairness though, Real Estate Shows can be syndicated to YouTube and reformatted for you. Cool, huh? 🙂 So, technically……

  5. Kim Wood

    September 30, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Miz – Can I call you that? 🙂
    So true that I’ve learned *so* much more since I started blogging! Blogging and reading blogs! I’m proud to say that I stay *ahead* of the competition ! (I like it better up here).
    Kim

  6. Jay Thompson

    September 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I can’t begin to list everything I’ve learned from both writing and reading real estate blogs. Tech stuff, real estate things, and lessons on being human. It’s a huge benefit. Huge.

  7. Jack Leblond

    October 1, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Mariana – it does seem to me that bloggers are in general a more helpful and sociable bunch than others I have encountered on the web. In the years I have been building traditional web sites, the owners and developers are typically very tight-lipped, secretive and suspicious when in comes to others in their trade. They worry about giving away secrets. Bloggers on the other hand, just tell you, often without being asked, how they have been successful. Bloggers are just good people (even those of us converted from the olden days).

  8. Mariana Wagner

    October 1, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Missy – This is probably my favorite thing about being a RE blogger … all that I have learned from all of my new friends.

    Mark – Marcy told me that you 2 spoke (Thank You!) and we are both excited that she will be adding to our blog.

    Ben – There are many different ways to enhance the “photo viewing experience” for your listings. Real Estate Shows is one of the BEST ways (IMHO) to enhance photos, and promote my listings, and I would MUCH prefer RES to an ammature with a Flip cam wandering through a house making me dizzy. There are a couple decent home-video vendors out there, but (for most homes) I do not see the value they bring justified by the cost it takes to create a video production like that.

    Yes. SEOmoz is also a great tool for leraning more about SEO. Thank you for bringing that up.

    Lani – Yep. RES can be syndicated to YouTube, and my Sellers love it!

    Kim – (lol @ Miz!) I like it better up here, too.

  9. Mariana Wagner

    October 1, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Jay – You brought up “being human” and that is, by far, one of the BEST lessons anyone can learn. Odd that so many of these lessons I learn from the people who “live in my computer” …!

    Jack – “Bloggers are just good people” … I couldn’t agree more!

  10. Lisa Sanderson

    October 1, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Funny, I was just trying to explain this part of it all to an agent at a local association meeting this morning. I will have to send this to him! Wait…do I really want him to know this valuable secret information? 😉

  11. Ben Goheen

    October 1, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Mariana,
    I see both sides. Using a flip camera to make a shaky, Blair Witch Project style video won’t help at all selling a house. And although I don’t have any personal experience with a production company I’ve seen some great ones made.

    As far as still image videos go, check out Animoto. The free version lets you make 30 second videos with cool image effects and non-boring music. Check out this one I made in just a few minutes:

    video of 12527 24th Street N, Stillwater, MN

  12. Paul Lazarre

    October 5, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Mariana:

    Thanks for the great post.

    I wanted to mention a new product called .Home that you may want to check out (www.dothome.info). (It is produced by us, so I admit upfront a bit of a bias.)

    DotHome does everything that Postlets does, except we have expanded the syndication to virtually any site on the web (if we don’t have it we’ll add in within a week). We are keeping tabs on over 100 advertising venues across the country.

    In addition to online ads, we can also track print ads. Each night, we automatically download your online and print activity and create comprehensive reports that can be sent to sellers. Finally, we track all the marketing in an area and can recommend advertising venues that are worthwhile to increase the expose of your listings (in the Pro Version).

    Sincerely,

    Paul

  13. Mariana

    October 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Lisa – Even if you sent it to him, do you think it would matter?

    Ben – I like Animoto, but am not sold on it to market a property. We will video homes for our out-of-state buyers, but it is definitely a video to point out everything good and bad about homes.

    Paul – I will check it out.

  14. Jeff Dowler

    October 5, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Mariana – it’s always a pleasure to read your perspectives on the blogging world. What more can one say about what blogging can bring to our business. it would be impossible to capture the depth of what I have learned thus far, nor do I expecft the learning to stop. So much of what I read provides inspiration and ideas. And it’s free. The personal relationships? Well, what more can be said. They rock and they are everywhere.

    Jeff

  15. Mariana Wagner

    October 5, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Jeff – It was great to finally meet you *in person* at RE Blog World. The friendships that we make are awesome.

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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