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Professionalism Booster #87

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‘Tis the Season of Love

I don’t think we spend enough time talking about our relationships with other agents. And I don’t mean here, online, where we love EVERYBODY. I am talking about our competitors, those agents who work the same neighborhoods that we do, who are competing for the attention of the same buyers and sellers we are.

Sure clients are important and those leads or guests or whatever you prefer to call them are responsible for a great portion of your bottom line. But what about the agents that you have to cooperate with on daily basis, whether in your office or somewhere else? There is a huge upside to making nicey-nice with the competition. For instance:

  • More pleasant transactions when based on feelings of goodwill and trust
  • Information: Other agents are experts in things just like you are-could come in handy!
  • Referrals. Yes, your competition could send you business. It happens.
  • I know there are others but I am on a deadline here 😉

We’re All Guilty Sometimes

The relationships we nurture with our cooperative competition is too often overlooked, I’m afraid. We tend watch each other, suspect the worst, gossip and complain a lot – especially now, when the market is slower, when people aren’t as busy writing contracts and showing homes and talking to prospects on the phone or face to face. Add a dash crankiness resulting from lower income levels and, voila, nitpickville!

I think it’s important, maybe now more than ever, to cultivate the feeling of goodwill throughout our industry, especially locally where our attitudes and relationships with each other are easily noticed by consumers. Negative attitudes toward each other can only breed or feed those bad stereotypes of ‘cut-throat real estate agents,’ which hurt us all. If we treat each other with respect, respect for our profession will grow.

So go ahead, give that agent the help he needs…with a smile. Say thank you. Make showing appointments gladly, efficiently and with respect for the showing agents’ time. Buy her a coffee. Make him a copy even if he could look it up himself.

Be an Angel and Go the Extra Step!

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. FMLS Realtor

    December 9, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Great post! I have run into many agents in the last year who seem more interested in slowing down and taking the time to have a conversation. Much of it unfortunately regarding the market woes. However I have made more friends with fellow agents this year than in any other.

  2. Mark Storolis

    December 9, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Yes, positive attitude and positive reinforcement goes miles further than negativity and cut-throat competitiveness. Some agents believe that their aggression is appealing, like the eye of the tiger. In the South, nothing could be further from the truth. Being a gentleman carries much more favor.

  3. Barry Bevis

    December 10, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I just referred a listing to another agent in my market.
    The owners are selling because of divorce and I was just too close to the situation to do the best job for them.
    I called another agent who I respected and who had taken time with me…
    It does pay to be nice.

  4. Lisa Sanderson

    December 10, 2008 at 11:08 am

    FMLS REALTOR: I’ve seen the same thing. I don’t know if it is the changing market or the changing nature of the business in general, but I like it!

    Mark: Aggression is not a business or marketing strategy, it’s a character trait at best and a personality disorder at worst.

    Barry: I’ve referred business out of my office too (w/no fee paid to me!). There are those times when there is a conflict of interest involved and this is the best course for everyone.

  5. dave88

    December 16, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I experienced a similar problem. When I bought my iPhone, I first checked with “Got Reception?” (Gotreception.com) It’s a great resource for finding out where reception problems are most likely to occur BEFORE you lock yourself with a specific carrier.

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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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