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4 tips for getting respect from short sale lenders

When a real estate professional is working short sales, getting respect from short sale lenders can be tricky – how can this be done without being too pushy or too passive?

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Viral Social Media Activity May Not Always Be a Good Thing

I just read on AGBeat about a nasty note to former customers that was left on the door of a closed Italian restaurant in Amarillo going viral. The article referred to a similar form of online drama that unfolded a few months back for Amy’s Baking Company, a restaurant featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

I must have been hunkered down without access to the Internet because I missed any news of the Amy’s Baking Company fiasco until now. Nevertheless, these two episodes provide food for thought (pun intended) when considering the best use of the Internet and social media to elevate the power of your communication with the short sale lenders.

While there is plenty of Internet activity surrounding both of these restaurants, large companies (including most of the major lenders) have teams of individuals that patrol the Internet in order to assure that there is no spread of negative viral activity. I know this for a fact. Believe me, I do. Fairly recently, I received a call from a friendly social media liaison at Bank of America asking me if she could help me. I asked her what she was talking about, and she referred me back to an article where I had reported on a new Bank of America policy. As she looked at the article again, she said, “Never mind.” She had realized that I was not complaining, but just sharing some information. Nevertheless, I saved her name and number since I knew that if I needed some assistance in the future, she would probably want me to call her before I took my bank needs to the social media scene.

There’s a fine line between online drama that is going to make you look like a fool, and online behavior that sends a strong (and professional) message. It’s not my call which approach you are going to take, but clearly mass media prefers the former. However, in most cases, when it comes to short sale woes, the latter method is much more effective.

Using the Internet to Draw Attention to Your Short Sale Woes

Here are four tips for sending a strong and professional message that will help you to receive respect (and a call back) from the short sale lenders:

  1. Make sure that all of the required documents are already at the bank before taking any communication up to the next level. You will look like a fool if you publicly complain about an inefficient negotiator when you have not returned a requested document.
  2. Be nice, polite, and professional. No need to rage on the bank in Savo! Italiano style. Keep in mind that you may not want to rat out a bank employee as you may have to work with the very same employee on your next short sale.
  3. Establish relationships (just like I did with the Bank of America social media liaison). Remember that a short sale is a mutually beneficial transaction, and if you are known as a hard worker and a closer, your communication will be treated with respect.
  4. When all else fails and you cannot get a call back, use Twitter. Twitter is an extremely effective way to draw attention to your cause in real time.
  5. Drama works. You know that it does. That’s why both the Italian Restaurant and Amy’s Baking Company have become viral names. Nevertheless, as an agent working short sales, your goal is to receive a response and a positive action. And, in order to do so, you may not want to call bank employees “sacks of goat sperm.”

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

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Housing News

Three short sale trend shifts in a changing world

Short sale trends are rapidly changing, and homeowners and practitioners alike struggle to keep up, so here are the top three shifting trends to consider.

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Latest short sale trends

Just like fashion trends that change from year to year, there are also many obvious trends in the short sale world. When you are working lots and lots of shorts, you begin to notice little trends—often before they are announced by the lenders or become high drama on the Internet.

Top 3 shifting short sale trends

Here are a few of the biggest trends right now in the short sale world:

  1. Fannie Mae Valuation Issues. For the past several months, short sales of homes with Fannie Mae loans have become more challenging—often because the Fannie Mae valuation is much higher than market value, resulting in the inability of a qualified buyer to purchase the home. There has been much ado about Fannie Mae valuation issues and possible fraud: so much that Fannie Mae has recently created a website to assist Realtors® with short sale valuation issues.
  2. Servicer Transfers. It may happen that a short sale listing agent gets a call from the short sale lender before (or after) the sale has been approved stating that the loan has been “service released.” What this means is that the seller’s mortgage has been transferred to a new servicer and the short sale listing agent or negotiator now has to begin the process all over again. There have even been accusations that this occurs in order for certain short sale lenders to forego payment of the short sale incentive. Whatever the case, this is one of the many reasons that people become frustrated with the short sale process.
  3. Short Sale Lenders Make New Rules. Another common trend is one where the short sale lender insists upon certain conditions or terms when the short sale lender is not the owner of the property. These could include mandating that the property be listed on an auction website, requiring the agent to stipulate certain things on the local MLS, or requiring the agent to market the property in a certain way. Remember that unless the property reverts to the bank after foreclosure auction (sometimes called a sheriff sale), the short sale lender is not the owner of the property.

Often, when working short sales, agents find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, agents have a fiduciary duty to the seller. On the other hand, in order to get approval, savvy agents need to figure out how to work through much of the bureaucracy at the lending institutions. Just hope that your short sale doesn’t get service released after you’ve worked through all the red tape!

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