Connect with us


2. Invitation to the Realtor Ghost Dance



Realtor Ghost Dance

It would seem that anything, any idea, if combined with aesthetics can be made to stick.  Someone will embrace it and buy into it.  Apparently, there is no idea too preposterous, or so idiotic that it can not find a home.  From young men wearing big baggy pants, put on backwards, to Indians wearing "special shirts" that will stop bullets, there is always someone who is all in.

There is an endless supply of wonderful ideas from well-intentioned and those who only pretend they are well-intentioned about what "ought to be done with the MLS".  Most of these ideas would radically change or pervert the purpose of the MLS (an offer of compensation) to the point where it would not be recognizable. 

One of the more destructive ideas is "divorcing buyer agent commissions".

Most of the arguments seem to be based on it is "still sub-agency", and it isn’t right because the buyer’s agent is being paid by the seller (via the listing agent).  It is like we are lawyers.  We are not.  We are salespeople.  Our job is to sell homes or find one for the buyer.  Also advanced is the entirely false premise that the buyer pays the commission via the seller and the listing agent.  If that were true then you could see the commission shown as a cost on a FNMA appraisal.  But it isn’t there because it does not belong there.  A FSBO can get their identical home appraised for the exact same price as a home listed by a broker.  The reason that sellers believe they pay the commissions is because they do pay the commissions.

Setting aside that fact that "divorced commissions" is a completely destructive (towards Realtors and the public) idea, what is interesting is that virtually all of the wonderful new things that could be done if only the commissions were divorced can be done right now with no change being made by anyone else.  That’s correct.  Want more commission than is being offered?  It can be done.  Want less?  It can be done.  All, right now.  What the people working on this are really trying to do (as they have a "better" idea)  is to regulate how YOU do business.  Not how they do business.

MLS is working just fine, thank you.

Could a buyer agree to pay an agent "X" per hour to show them homes and write an offer?  Sure.  I believe there are lots of agents who would welcome a set fee per hour, regardless of if the person ever bought a home or not.  Various people (who can’t think clearly) like to insist what a wonderful world it would be if we could all do something like that – it would be so honest.  Many lawyers get paid like that, in fact, some of them insist on being paid like that.  Why wouldn’t that work for Realtors?  Simple: because most buyers of most houses would not be interested in making an agreement like that.  Ever. They strongly prefer the lawyer "contingency" method – you, Mr. or Ms. Realtor, collect your money at the end.  No sale, no pay.

Few buyers are going to pay by the hour for agents to show them houses, regardless of if they buy or not and in most cases they are not going to agree, at all, to pay an agent’s full commission if they can buy a home direct from the seller or through the listing agent and not have to pay any commission.  Most buyers (unless they are in litigation) do not find "agency" worth paying for or even talking about all that much.  Buyers want – and are looking for – a house, not an agent.  If you wanted to buy a new car, can you even imagine thinking, "I sure hope I can find a really great car salesman to help me and explain all that confusing paperwork"?  Or is it far more likely you would be willing to tolerate talking to the salesman in order to get the information you wanted?  "Enforcing agency" on the public will amount to NO agency.  They won’t pay for it.  Buyer agents who are "for divorcing the commissions", would, if "successful", only succeed in putting themselves out of business.

It can be remarkable the things people will sometimes do on the subject of failure.  To work on something like this a working Realtor would have to have at least a low-grade death wish for themselves and others.  Those outside the industry working on it have one for us.  Not necessarily low-grade.

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and

Continue Reading


  1. Mark Eibner

    February 24, 2009 at 9:16 am

    we’re at it again 2. Invitation to the Realtor Ghost Dance: Get out of your feed reader and com..

  2. sheilabragg

    February 24, 2009 at 9:29 am

    2. Invitation to the Realtor Ghost Dance: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that ..

  3. Dan Connolly

    February 25, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Here here Russell, I agree completely. I think most of the people who write these articles aren’t really realtors (non capitalization intentional), they may have a license, but at heart are writers and just trying to pull the chains of their readers.

    As the recession continues, and the banks discount their foreclosed homes by 50-70%, more homeowners than ever will be willing to pay the pros who can actually bring a buyer willing to pay a decent price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


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!