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Opinion Editorials

How agents on the ground are impacted by the foreclosure crisis

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It’s too early to tell how bad the foreclosure freeze is going to be for consumers and lenders, but make no mistake, this recent turn of events will be especially painful to one group… agents. Now most of us have dabbled with short sales and closed an REO here and there. It certainly does not constitute the bulk of our business. However, there are some of us who solely rely on these types of transactions. The rise of the REO/Short Sale Specialist is about the take quite a fall.

After the bubble burst, many struggling agents reinvented themselves as Short Sale/REO experts. And those agents who were doing ok also hopped on the bandwagon. There was a mad dash to court these deals because we were told this was the wave of the future. The recession hit. People couldn’t keep their jobs. A slew of ARMs were set to expire. The massive shadow inventory was lurking in the background. There would be tons of listings to supply the sales pipeline for years! Who could have foreseen this?

I feel really badly for this group of agents. Faced with the possibility that their sales pipeline was evaporating right before their eyes, last week, scores of my colleagues were stricken with panic as foreclosures threatened to come to a screeching halt. With their livelihoods hanging on a thread, agents (along with their deals) were paralyzed. These agents spent the past several years procuring connections with REO departments, perfecting their shortsale/REO protocol and rebranding themselves as REO mavens… all to have it possibly come crashing down on them.

One agent, the self-professed “Top REO Queen,” confided in me this weekend that she’d focused too much time and energy into building her foreclosure empire with her harem of REO assistants. Like many REO big players, she made her money in volume. If things don’t get resolved soon, she may have to lay off her team and totally restructure her business model. To start from scratch is daunting, especially since her sphere of influence for the past few years consisted only of asset managers! “I’m afraid I’ve painted myself into a corner,” she confessed…

There is something to be said about specialization. When executed properly, it can be a powerful branding strategy to set yourself apart from the sea of other agents. Yet, over-specialization can also lead to the danger of the proverbial phrase “putting all your eggs in one basket.” It’s great to have a specialty in one segment of the business, but always keep in mind that segment can dry up. Nothing lasts forever! Diversification is key. So, from this foreclosure mess, we are all reminded to try to cultivate a mix of revenue streams, clientèle & transaction types in order to buffer any drastic changes to our core business. Variety is the spice of life… and real estate!

Watch Real Estate Expert Herman Chan put the REAL back in REALTY. In his show Habitat for Hermanity, Herman skewers the real estate business and pokes fun at his fellow agents, all the while empowering buyers & sellers with behind-the-scene tips & secrets of the industry! Get a glimpse beyond the glitz & glam of real estate. It's a hot mess! Featured on HGTV, House Hunters & other media outlets, Herman is the undisputed Real Estate Maven whose helpful & hilarious commentary you just can't live without! In fact, his real estate TV show has just been optioned in Hollywood!

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Gina Kay Landis

    October 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Yep, I was one of the BPO queens locally, doing about 20 + a month – for many different vendors, and felt that I should move back into residential sales along with other diversification – well! Good move, have had 2 closings thus far, wrote an offer yesterday, and BOOM – let’s hope this continues!

    • Herman Chan

      October 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      you’re a wise lady Gina. keep it up!

  2. Sheila Rasak

    October 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

    So this explains the panic in which I awake each morning! That being said, I’d entertain the opinion of the author on the merits of poising oneself for the glut of the opening gates of inventory once released. I think we’re in a holding pattern much like what happens when holiday time hits. How long can the icy freeze last?

    • Herman Chan

      October 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      hi sheila!
      one day we will all say “do u remember that foreclosure freeze back in 2010?” but who knows how long that will be? who knows how long the holding pattern will last. but hey, if you can hold out indefinitely and not let it affect your lifestyle, income, payroll, etc, then knock yourself out! most ppl don’t have that luxury though…
      thanks for your comment!

  3. Waterfront Jacksonville

    October 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Maybe I’m missing something.

    I see how an REO agent is hit with the foreclosure freeze now that the banks have started taking the listings off the market. I don’t see how this affects the Short Sale agent and I’ve been unable to find anything saying how it will affect short sales.

    How does this affect the Short Sale agents?

  4. Kelsey Teel

    October 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    “Variety is the spice of life… and real estate!” — So true, Herman!

    Finding the balance is key and it can be very hard to do! I’ve seen agents go both ways…in this case, becoming too specialized while in other cases spreading themselves too thin. (i.e., having 10 different designations that don’t really mean a darn thing.)

  5. Jim Gatos

    October 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Almost all of the local REO Bank real estate agents I am dealing with are genuinely nice people and for those I feel. They have to put up considerable money upfront to carry the repairs and maintenance on properties they don’t even own and also fill out disbursements to get paid. If they don’t they potentially lose a lot of money. For those agents, I feel bad if their business gets impacted. There are a couple of agents I have dealt with that had absolutely NO personality; no communication skills, nothing. It was dealing with “The Borg” from Star Trek! For THOSE agents, I’m gonna say; I hope you have listing and selling skills buddy, a HIGH level of listing and selling skills, buddy! YOU’RE GONNA NEED IT!

  6. Jamey Prezzi

    October 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Although it’s not easy, that’s the nature of our business now…… a constant shift. I do agree with Watefront Jackson, not sure how it will affect short sales as much in fact some are predicting that this will be better for short sale deals. My business is a different model so I don’t really do either from a listing standpoint but it will be interesting to see how it works itself out. Something tells me that the agents who did brand themselves in this field will easily shift to another but I have a feeling REOs aren’t going anywhere.

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Opinion Editorials

The offensive myth of getting laid off being a blessing

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There’s an age-old trend in news to look for rags-to-riches stories. People love to hear about someone who’s down on their luck scraping together a genius idea and, through sheer grit (it seems), finding the motivation to finally strike out on their own and realize their dream.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Person X is laid off from their long-time but unfulfilling office job, say at an oil company in Alberta, or a marketing agency where their good ideas are consistently shot down.

What seems like a situation to for despair is actually an opportunity in disguise— see, with their newfound freedom Person X has the ability to fully commit to their small business pipe dream.

In fact, the story goes, getting laid off was actually the best thing to ever happen to this person.

This story is a myth.

Although I don’t want to discredit anybody who has had the willpower, luck, and resources to succeed at launching their business, there are many people who are laid off who are truly in critically terrible times.

The insidious underlying message of this myth is that anybody who is truly devastated by being laid off is being weak or lazy.

It serves to alleviate the guilt of those who may have survived the lay off themselves; it helps organizations justify the fact that they might have had to let an otherwise good employee go for their own, corporate-level problems.

The characteristics that many of these laid-off-turned-successful-entrepreneurs have in common are the same sort of privileges that many take for granted – health, youth, a personal support system to help keep the lights on, and an established network of people that can be turned into a market of clients.

What happens to the many workers who are victims of ageism when they are laid off in favor of younger, less expensive workers?

What happens if you’re laid off and you can’t use your newfound time to work on your business plan because you’re raising young children?

The entrepreneurs who find opportunity in being suddenly jobless were probably already on their way to striking out on their own, with their being laid off acting as the defined starting point for a plan they might not have known was forming in their heads.

If you, a friend, or a colleague have the unfortunate luck to be laid off, don’t let this myth get under your skin.

It’s okay to have a rough time with a huge life event that is absolutely terrifying and difficult.

Hang in there.

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Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.

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More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).

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bullet journal

It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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