Connect with us


Do What Works



New and old Methods


  • I write a To Do list – on paper – everyday.
  • I still have a Rolodex on my desk.
  • I track listings, escrows, and prospects on a massive white board in my office.

Why?  For Me, It Works

For me, the act of running through my days activities to create a To Do list with the use of pen and paper gives me a sense of clarity and peace.  I feel satisfaction crossing those things off.  I’ve tried an endless number of tools online including Top Producer, Remember the Milk and the latest Gmail application but I always come back to my pen and paper – because for me, it works.

I come back from events or meetings with my purse and pockets stuffed with business cards.  I have a card scanner somewhere collecting dust.  I have piles I intend to plug into my online address book.  But for most of these, I don’t need to work with the information electronically and you guessed it, Rolodex.  No more piles.  For me, it works.

When it comes to my personal real estate business, I’ve tried more contact management systems than I care to admit.  I’ve tried the most complicated and the simplest and yet, I have found that there is nothing more effective for me than having the names of those I’m working with in front of me.  No one ever gets forgotten and it satisfies the necessary Top of Mind Awareness I want to have with those clients, everyday.  For me, after years of fighting this and feeling guilt that I couldn’t make an online system work for me, I gave in.  Because, for me, this works.

I do a lot with technology everyday.  And yet, I know that some things I prefer the old fashioned, even archaic way.

More Than Technology – It’s About Your Systems Too

Think of this with regard to the systems you are working – beyond just technology.  When coaching and training, I’ve watched agents try to implement systems intended to generate business or manage back office systems.  They see other agents having massive success with a system and think, “I will do that too.”

And yet, they fight to maintain consistency, commitment to implementation daily.  Why?

I had a friend that was determined to take her business to the next level and she launched two new excellent systems to generate business and while she had some early success with it, it was not sustainable for her.  Why?  She hated what she was doing.

The solution – she quit those systems and went back to what had worked.  She learned how to build off that success, improve the other systems that she enjoyed, and the ones that worked for her life and her personality.

The systems and tasks you enjoy doing will find success because those activities are sustainable for you.  A great system isn’t great if you aren’t willing to execute it and love it.

Be Open

Be open to the possibilities.  Be open to new tools.  Be open to new systems.  Try them with real effort and commitment.  But also, don’t be afraid to do what works.

Hey, I realize some of what I’m doing isn’t scalable.  I realize some of it leaves some of you shaking your head.  I am open.  But, I am slow to abandon what I know works.  No system, no tool, no technology is better if it doesn’t work with my life, my personality.

Linsey Planeta is the Broker Owner of Belterra Fine Homes in Orange County, California. Linsey rants regularly on her blog, OC Real Estate Voice. She also provides sellers with tips on how to get their home sold on Why Didn't My Home Sell? She has been an active Real Estate Coach and Instructor and loves working with agents so that they may look at their business with fresh eyes, renewed purpose, and defined systems. Linsey can be found in her office or you can also find her on Twitter@Linsey.

Continue Reading


  1. Eric Hempler

    September 15, 2009 at 5:13 am

    I would have to agree. When I entered the job market I used excel like crazy to create my own checklists so I could make sure evey step was completed and have always used excel as my database of names. I also use Outlook as a tool for reminders of when I need to complete the next task. I too use a sheet of paper and pen as a to do list, it’s easier to write down what I need to do next and like you said, cross it off when I’m done. I don’t know if I’ll ever get busy enough to use something like Top Producer, but Excel has always gotten the job done for me.

  2. Jim Gatos

    September 15, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Totally agree..

    I for one, can’t stand Top Producer.. Bad enough tries to bully it’s realtor base with their pricing and monopolistic schemes; through Top Producer they”re now trying to control our agent database and our own access to it? I don’t think so…. I tried it and it’s easier for me with Mozilla Thunderbird. Why no one has created real estate agent extensions for Thunderbird yet I’m STILL wondering.. All we really need is an activity plan extension and a listings – buyer manager..

    I use what I can use, and for me, less is better. I hardly have any software at all and the I use Openoffice, Thunderbird, and Firefox. I’m seriously thinking of changing to Macinitosh soon but the point is, I’m NOT dependent on any one vendor.. I have a Blackberry Curve 8330 and it syncs fine with Funambol, another free app..

    The only service I do pay for yearly if I continue blogging is Typepad. I tried WordPress and Blogger and Typepad, in my honest opinion, is worth paying for.

  3. Ken Brand

    September 15, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Wise words. Bottom line. Do what works. Do what you’ll do. The VERY best system is the one you’ll use. Crush it LP. Cheers.

  4. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 15, 2009 at 10:39 am


    Great post, I completely agree. People are always trying to convince folks that they need to be doing this that or the other.

    We all know what works for us. If we don’t have anything that works, then maybe we should be listening to these folks …and looking for even more.

    Personally, I’m looking to get better at the ones I do, and maybe learn some new ones.

    But there’s no sense trying to talk someone into being a Tweeter, for example, when his/her gig might be neighborhood farming, or whatever floats em.

    Right on!


  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Ever write a response, hit post and then nothing happens? Just happened to me so this is try #2. Maybe this one will be better than the original. Doubtful.

    Anyway – great post and I agree completely. I like to listen to (entertain) all sorts of ideas, always looking for one more twist that might work for me. But in the end, you have to do things you like, are comfy with and are good at.

    I remember when I first got my license and had my first few meetings with my very old school broker/owner. He sat me down and piled about 2 feet high of gimmicks in front of me to get my sales going. Stuff like:

    Neighborhood Farming via postcar
    Sign riders with 800 numbers
    FSBO conversion schemes
    Expired Listing schemes
    Series of tapes to listen to while in the car about all sorts of exciting “methods.”
    Ways to network with everyone you know and try to get business.

    Hey, he was trying and this was all he knew, so, I’ll give him that much credit. But in a couple of weeks, after reviewing all this info I informed him, “if I have to do ANY of that to be successful, I’m not going to stay in RE.”

    I chose to go entirely different routes, and they work and it’s fun to do: for me!


  6. Linsey Planeta

    September 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Rob – Looks like your comment made it but I’ve been there before and big thx to you for taking the time to try again. Sometimes I admit I don’t – so I REALLY appreciate that.

    To everyone – I’ll admit – after I hit publish on this and went to bed, I woke up thinking, ‘Did I just confess I have a Rolodex on my desk? What have I done!” But it’s nice to hear your responses.

    I guess I’ve learned that the comfort level varies person to person for every type of system and you can’t fight what works for you. Thanks guys!

  7. Partition Recovery

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 am

    I don’t know if I’ll ever get busy enough to use something like Top Producer, but Excel has always gotten the job done for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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!

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!