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The true test of any relationship.



The true test of online relationships.

Having friends is good.

This topic is talked about all the time – the value of any relationship. Whether it’s our clients, our agent friends, our vendors, or the people we “meet” online, there is a value to having them. If there’s no value, then perhaps they shouldn’t be our friends – real or perceived. I got to thinking about how I value the different people in my life on two separate unrelated cases in the past few weeks. Who are my friends? Are my clients my friends? Are my online friends really my friends?

The true value in any relationship is care. Caring about the other person on some level that creates an interest, a desire to know more, and a connection between the two people that for one reason or another gives them both returns, whatever they might be. I might be friends with one person for different reasons than another, but having a relationship with that person provides me (and them) with something.

Online friends.

Many of you are my online friends. We talk, we joke, we ask questions of each other. I’ve known some of you for almost a year now (my first article on AgentGenius, “Will the real Matt Stigliano please stand up?” was written on September 22, 2008) and many of you have become great friends to me. Kim Wood is one such friend. I knew we were friends long ago, but recently I realized just how much our friendship meant. Kim was feeling a little sick and went to the hospital, when I heard the news, I was worried. How can I worry about someone I never met?

I think many of us can attest to the care we feel for our online friends. The relationship is real. It’s discussed constantly in real estate circles, but I know it for a fact. I worried about Kim until I received more news that she was doing better. I sent her a card, one which didn’t make it to her. I sent it again and it made it finally. She had sent me a note on Twitter that said “I’m sure it will show up just when I need it.” It did and I was thrilled.

Kim and I had a secret competition in writing here at AgentGenius. We both posted on the same day (Wednesdays – yes this is a day late!) and would try to beat each other to get our article in before the other. Although the competition was about who was first, it was really more than that. I love her writing, so knowing that I was in direct “competition” with her for eyeballs made me push myself to write better posts. I miss having Kim’s posts here every week to compare my own to. She’s getting better, but I still miss that friendly competition – even though there was no prize other than bragging rights. Get better Kim, I need you back!

Client friends.

I’ve had a busy week of closing and phone calls have been non-stop daily trying to wrap up the final details and get things done. Yesterday, I called my client – we’ll call her Sue (which is funny, because I don’t think she should be named Sue at all, just doesn’t fit her for some reason). I needed to get a few details from her to expedite the closing process and when I called, I was met with a newsflash. Seems my client was having some heart trouble. Feeling palpitations that scared her to death. I forgot why I even called her. Sue and I spoke for about 20 minutes and I didn’t even think to ask her the questions I had called her about. She’s been an awesome client since the day I met her and I was genuinely worried for her. I wanted her to be better. I didn’t care much about talking shop with her. I had a job to do, but it could wait while we discussed what was going on in her life.

Sue’s okay, I spoke with her last night. They’re doing the usual tests and such. She sounds great and she wanted to talk business. I was there at 9 PM (which isn’t all that late for an agent) going over facts and figures with her before the documents were sent out to her to sign (she’s now out of state). We talked for quite awhile about business and life. She gets excited when I have new clients or closings. She wants me to succeed and is always boosting my confidence.

By forming relationships with both of these people, I have benefited. I gained confidence, fun, knowledge, and plain ‘ol good feelings. When they are down (but not out!), I am there with them – rooting them on to a successful recovery. Hoping to speak to them soon when they’re 100%. Sending them my best thoughts and wishes, just because I took a few minutes to get to know them. When we open ourselves up to getting to know the people around us, good things come from it. Not every agent is a referral and not every client is a paycheck. They are our friends and we can receive value from those relationships that far exceeds and referral agreement or commission check we’ll ever receive.

photo courtesy of hojusaram

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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. Kim Wood

    August 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Matt – I can’t wait to give you the big ‘ole *hug* face-to-face…. again, not IRL (in real life) because the hugs I send virtually are in fact, real. The support I have received is amazing, from people that I’ve known and met f2f, people I’ve only known virtually, people I know locally and people I didn’t connect with at all before….. it’s amazing !

    Relationship building is where it’s at. For clients, for agents, for friends.

    And watch out, Boi, cause I have a lot of post ideas ready to come out – so I might beat you !!!

    *HUGS* Kim

  2. Kim Wood

    August 20, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    PS I have a Gravatar and I hate when it doesn’t grab it !

  3. Ken Brand

    August 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Life is gooder if you have friends. Amen.

  4. Lisa Sanderson

    August 20, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Nice article. When you click with people like that it’s like magic!

    (Get well, Kim!)

  5. Joe Loomer

    August 21, 2009 at 7:06 am

    I’m blessed to have a robust client base that also shares a unique bond with me – the fraternity of Navy Chief Petty Officers. I won’t bore everyone with the intricate details of what that means – just know that the “list” of “Chief Selectees” comes out in late July or early August, and that starts the training phase of teaching a Sailor how to be “The Chief.” By mid-September they have their “pinning” – also known as “The Happiest Day of My Life” – when they don the uniform and the ANCHORS. Chests explode with pride, mothers, wives, and fathers weep openly with joy, and new Chiefs are born.

    Because I share that unique bond with many of my clients, we socialize regularly, and correspond frequently – regardless of our physical location. Fully half of my FB friends are Sailors – past and present. I do things no Realtor should ever do for their clients – simply because we’re Chiefs. A friend in need and all that…..

    Today, Senior Chief “Wild Bill” Keown, United States Navy, is retiring in the Fort Meade, Maryland area. I initiated Bill into the Chief Fraternity fully nine-plus years ago. I am not there in body – but I sure am in spirit. Songs will be sung, many a toast made and off-color joke told. As concerned as you are for Kim, I am jealous of my friends that are there for this auspicious occassion.

    I’d quote Kennedy’s missive about serving in the Navy – but I’ve gone on long enough and need to go dry my eyes anyway. Thanks, Matt, for making my day with another awesome reminder about what’s important in life.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

  6. Joe Loomer

    August 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Need to add that “mothers, wives, HUSBANDS, and fathers weep…..”

  7. Missy Caulk

    August 21, 2009 at 8:58 am

    A phone call or comment or virtual hug does wonders for us, when we are busy or under the weather. When my daughter was in a horrible car crash in 07, her room was full of flowers from virtual friends. Some whom I have never met to this day.

  8. Paula Henry

    August 22, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Matt – Your sincerity is always evident whether virtual or Real Life. Dats why people luv ya! I can’t wait to meet you 🙂

  9. Matt Stigliano

    August 25, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Kim – I’d be honored to be beaten to a pulp by you in a blog-off. Bring it on! Hope your days are getting better and definitely can’t wait to meet.

    Ken – And life is gooderer if you have good friends.

    Lisa – I’ve been lucky in real estate. I clicked with a lot of people who became my friends early on. I have one of the best “support teams” on earth. When I need something, I have friends in all sorts of places and it’s a great comfort to know and a huge confidence builder.

    Joe – It’s always nice to know that you’re part of something special. I guess humans in general need that feeling. That’s why we have so many clubs, fraternal organizations, business social groups, and of course – social media itself. Belonging to something and building relationships is a part of life.

    Missy – I saw a lot of it right here in my early days of hanging around AgentGenius. I didn’t know Bill’s wife, but I knew of her. Bill had become someone I associated with on occasion here and to hear of his loss made me feel as if I was a part of that life. The outpouring of comments to him included my own, a guy he barely knew and had never met face to face. Didn’t matter, because Bill responded to me much the same as he did many that he had met – as a friend. It really helped show me the value of relationships built through social media, even if there has never been an actual face to face meeting.

    Paula – Thanks for the compliment. Hearing something like that is certainly a confidence booster. I look forward to meeting you as well – I owe you for the whole inspiration of the Google/scraper drama. That was a big moment in my real estate career for me and you took the time to make me feel a part of it all. I appreciate that!

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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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