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Blog, Blog, Black Sheep.



Blog, Blog, Black Sheep, Have you any skill?

Today is one of those days. I’ve been busy all day, trying to do what we do best. I have an article due on AgentGenius, my personal blog needs updated, and I haven’t commented back to some things on ActiveRain. I need to get down to business. I sat down this evening, like normal, to write my weekly blog post here and wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t have anything to say (yeah, right…). I’m sure I had things to say, but I just couldn’t really come up with much that excited me, made me want to write, or I thought might be interesting to the rest of you. I was in a funk I guess. Nothing seemed to strike me as “the one” as I rolled through some ideas I’ve been tossing around in my head. I was adrift in a sea of blankness.

When I’ve got nothing, I need inspiration.

I jumped onto the interwebs and started reading. Some Twitter posts, some ActiveRain posts, some bloggers I admire…the usual. Just reading, hoping that something would jog my brain and fire up the neurons to make me a literary genius. Its not easy, but sometimes it works. Instead, I felt frustrated that I just seemed to have nothing to offer today. I read Ginny Cain McMurtrie’s first post, I read Kim Wood’s most recent post, I read Bill Lublin’s latest after he tweeted about it – and there it was. The answer was clear. And depressing. Here I am surrounded by these Geniuses and I’m stuck with nothing to write. I’m supposed to be a Genius too, right? Instead, I felt like the Black Sheep of the family.

Black Sheep or not, I still have wool.

When I started blogging, I felt more like a turtle amidst a flock of sheep. I was really different. I didn’t know what to write or how to write it. I had no idea. I was new to real estate without much “expertise” or “insight.” I was lost, lonely, and felt like everyone was better than me. I thought guys like Bill Lublin would laugh at me for my naive nature and mock me for not knowing what a BPO was. I thought Kim Wood would ask me a question that I wouldn’t know the answer to. Even with Ginny’s appearance today, I felt like she might chuckle if I sent her a question that was deemed “stupid.” In talking with new agents since The Stigliano Chronicles began, I have found many similar sentiments amongst them. We don’t know how the experts got to their lofty position and since writing isn’t always the focus of most people’s lives, its a Brave New World for us new agents. We do what most people do when they feel out of place…we put it off. We say we’ll look into blogging. We say we don’t have time for it. We make excuses. We do everything in order not to put ourselves out there and test the waters.

Come on in the water’s warm.

Instead of having the Geniuses laugh me out of town, they welcomed me. They encouraged me. They taught me. Sure, I’m lucky as can be to have the opportunity to be a colleague of theirs, but it doesn’t matter if you write here, there, or anywhere. Real estate bloggers are an encouraging bunch. They don’t just want to succeed, they want to change the face of real estate. The more the merrier. They know that their competition might be doing what it takes to push them out of the market, but the fact is, a blogger brings their own personal touch to real estate and what works for you, probably won’t work for me. And if we’re that different as bloggers, we’ll attract different people. My readers aren’t necessarily going to think you’re better, because they like my style. They came to me on a whim, but stayed because they connected with me. Don’t be afraid to take that first step, just being here, you already know the power of the real estate blog – now its your turn. Blog. Write. Post. Whatever you call it, you won’t be the Black Sheep of the blog world – trust me.

photo courtesy of pasotraspaso

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Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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  1. KimWood

    March 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Hey!! I’m mad at you! Did you jump into my head and take my thoughts from a while back and change the names to make it sound like you are talking about *you* and not *me* ????

    I think there have been times when we’ve all felt like the black sheep… and jussoyaknow…. YOU ROCK! Keep up the good work, Matt.

    PS I fully expect to see you at REBCPHL ! Date coming soon!

  2. Brandie Young

    March 5, 2009 at 1:27 am

    oh, Matt – we all get blocked sometimes. Really. We are our own worst critics. You’re awesome.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    March 5, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Kim – That’s how I felt when I read Bill’s post. Except for the fact that he wrote it really well and every time I tried to write it, it was quite so well put. In talking with more experienced bloggers I realize that everyone feels a little black sheep-ish from time to time, so I figured it would be a great topic for new agents, since if an experienced blogger feels that way, imagine what a new one feels like.

    Brandie – Worst critics is something I know a lot about. When I played the same songs night after night on stage and had a really bad show, I would destroy myself afterward. Furious that those kids in the audience had paid good money to come see us and I couldn’t even get the simplest of songs right, I would spend the next hour in the dressing room going over every thing I did wrong and beating myself up about it. After cleaning up a bit, I’d head out to the bus and say hello to the fans. Almost every time I had the worst show ever, kids would rave to me about how much fun they had and how great I was as a guitarist (which still doesn’t make sense to me, haha). They’d tell me it was the best show they’d ever been to and rave about it forever. I often wound up hanging out longer than I intended with those kids, because I saw the excitement in their eyes over the show they had just seen. It was quite uplifting and a serious lesson in perception.

    All who read the comments – Please (and I mean this) don’t use the comments to tell me about me and that I’m doing a good job or that I rock. Its a weird request, but I don’t want the comments to become about me on this one. I’d love to see your thoughts on those feelings and if you’ve got any great suggestions to get over those humps, especially the initial hump of blogging itself, I’d love to hear those. I do love to hear good things about myself (who doesn’t), but I would rather see this help a new agent understand that its not them, its everyone – we all go through it. Thanks. You can save my ego-inflation for another day…haha.

  4. Ken Brand

    March 5, 2009 at 6:30 am

    I resemble your remarks. I imagine, as you’ve shared, we all have those feeling of doubt and shades of despair. Those little voices that question; Am I worthy, am I good enough, will people like me, will it work.

    As you share, I think the tonic is to engage, dive in, move forward, grow, learn and persist.

    You also pointed out a inspirational aspiration – your fellow AG bloggers, readers and realtor friends encouraged and supported you. That’s something that is universally appreciated and makes the giver and the getter feel better and stronger.

    Last, I love this quote: ” Some will, some won’t, so what.”

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoy you.

  5. Bill Lublin

    March 6, 2009 at 7:30 am

    You give me too much credit – we all share those same doubts and struggles, and it is a mark of your personal strength and growth that you share it when you feel it. I struggled way too long with that post before it went up, and it was merely a matter of serendipity that I posted before you – otherwise I would have had to write this post 😉

    I feel like everyone else was in my head in what they said to you already, so I wouldn’t dare repeat what they put so clearly.Just keep sharing what you think and feel and you and your readers benefit.

    Dude, to put it plainly – You still rockthe house!

    Next week appearing in San Antonio live!…..

  6. Missy Caulk

    March 6, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Matt, I love this post. I have felt that same way so many times.

  7. Brad N

    March 8, 2009 at 9:57 am


    Thanks. I am retiring very soon from the military and Real Estate is where I am heading. I currently do some work In the field, mostly Lead maintenance, emails yada yada yada.

    I am looking for the best way to brand myself, make myself stick out from the agents in our area. I have wanted to start a blog for a while. While I can kick in a door of an insurgents home and not bat an eye, having someone critique my thoughts and writing style actually makes me a bit timid.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. Lisa Sanderson

    March 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    OMG I am in the middle of an extended funk right now. Ideas have been slow to come and the development of the ones that do appear is stunted. Don’t know why. But apparently it happens. Talking to others about it helps a lot. Stepping away, clearing your mind and removing ‘I have to write’ from the internal broken record, helps too. Keep on plugging away, it’s temporary.

    One tip I heard somewhere for people who want to start blogging but haven’t, is to write but not make the blog site public yet. Write articles and practice composing out of the public eye. Maybe share an article or two with a peer. After you write a few, you won’t be able to resist going public. It’s a sickness 🙂

  9. Matt Stigliano

    March 9, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Ken – I think the toughest part of becoming a blogger is the rejection thoughts that race through your head before you hit submit. Everyone has that nagging doubt (well at least everyone I know) about themselves buried deep inside and it loves to come out and play when we need to be public with things like writing. I have encouraged everyone I know that is new to blogging to just tell themselves to shut up and hit submit anyway. Sure, you’ll have some flops, you’ll look back and think “why in the world would I write that?,” but over time, it start to come together nicely.

    Great quote.

    Bill – Hopefully I will see you very soon, but I still felt the need to reply. Its good to hear that even you struggle with it (as well as everyone else that commented). Its easy to think that those that blog and have been doing so for a long time are these superhero type legends and never fail or struggle. I think its a good thing for new agents and new bloggers (and old timers) to hear it once in awhile.

    Missy – You and I spoke about this once somewhere (ActiveRain maybe) and much like I said to Bill above, its good to hear it. It gives new bloggers that bit of encouragement (which I must say the RE blogging community is great at) that we all need to push through the first handful of blogs.

    Brad N – That’s the best example of how because writing is personal, its much harder to expose yourself to the world for the first time. With you, I think your military experience is a plus. Living in a military town myself, I find that ex-military thrive in real estate. They have the discipline, the structure, and (in San Antonio’s case) the client base and sphere of influence. My best referral source is military and he appreciates my attention to detail…which I find to be a big deal to most military buyers and sellers. I see your link goes to Ft. Hood, so I assume you’ll be working out of that area, so I think the start of your branding should be military. Add to that your personal touches and you can easily build yourself an identity that makes you stand out in the crowd.

    Lisa – Your idea of writing privately is great…as long as you eventually do go public. I actually did a bit of that with my personal blog in order to a) question some peers (AG writers gave me a lot of input and helped guide me) and b) get more than one article on there when it went live.

  10. Michelle Minch, Moving Mountains Design

    May 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Matt: I think we all are subject the the dreaded “blogger’s block” occassionally. When I am stuck for something to write about, I do 2 things:
    1)I go sightseeing on Flickr – I’m a visual person, so sometimes looking at photos will trigger an idea. I limit my Flickr tour to photos available with a Creative Commons license. That way, if a particular photo does trigger a brainstorm, it is available for me to use, with proper attribution, of course.
    2)Check out my WordPress blog analytics for search terms that brought people to my blog. Google searches can be pretty creative in terms of words used and word order. For example, the other day someone found my blog by searching “carpet hardwood selling home”. That gave me the idea to write a post about money saving tips for choosing carpet when selling a home. Interestingly enough, that has been the most popular post on my blog for the past week.

    Its great to find a community of like minded individuals that make you feel welcome and supported. It appears you have found your “voice”and are exercising it to great effect.

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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!



magic eight ball

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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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:



short sales standoff

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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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.



short sales

short sale approval

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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