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10 Advanced Skills that can help you become a Successful Real Estate Agent



“Uhh what you got Mike – my skills to pay the bills
Agh yea, I got the skills to pay the bills ya’ll” – beastie boys

Lifehack has a good list of basic skills that I think Realtors (and everyone else) can use as building blocks for these more advanced skills:

1. Education

Of course you need to constantly learn and improve your own education level, but you also need to develop the skill to educate others. Whether it’s teaching a first-time homebuyer about mortgages or a savvy investor about the internal rate of return on an income-producing property, you need the skills to be able to convey your message effectively.

2. Legal

You don’t have to be an attorney or be able to recall every real estate code on the books. But you do need to have familiarity and comfortability with legal terms. You are suppose to refer your clients to legal experts, but you better know when it’s appropriate to do so.

3. Negotiation

Some say it’s an art, others say it’s a science. Whatever you call it, it’s a necessity for the future of your business. If you can’t help a client accomplish their needs and goals thru negotiation, then you will have little value for their friends and family. You don’t have to ‘win’ a negotiation to be effective. But you have to be effective if you want future referrals.

4. Processing

To be an effective processor of information, you must first perfect the basic listening skill. Then you can move on to processing your client’s needs and goals. You also need to be able to process lots of information at one time and on short notice to react. Processing is critical to proper action and reaction.

5. Problem-Solving

You need to be able to react to problems that arise (and they will) with a confident decision that results in an effective solution. This advanced skill requires timing and judgement to be successful.

6. Marketing

Marketing is such an advanced skill it could have it’s own post (or thousands of books on the topic), but suffice to say you better have some skills in this area to succeed long term. You will be marketing properties, cities, school districts, and yourself. It will pay you to be good at it.

7. Leadership

The ability to motivate others and have them committed to your ideas and ideals will inspire people to work toward a common goal. Your clients will thank you for taking them where they want to be.

8. Team Building

Not a real estate team of agents, but a team of partners who can help you accomplish goals.Relationship skills and networking skills will help you develop a team of trusted partners and this team of resources will be invaluable to you and your clients.

9. Tech-Savvy

113% of all buyers start their search for a home on the internet. (Isn’t that what ‘they’ always say) Regardless of the real percentage, we all know the internet is here to stay (and it’s not your momma’s internet either). You will need to understand many technologies and feel confident implementing the tools to help accomplish tasks for your business.

10. Communication

Last and MOST IMPORTANT. Our industry needs to stop having ‘presentations’ and engage more in ‘conversation’ with the public. If you are not an effective communicator, then you will be left behind. Effective communication not only involves listening and conversing, but it is critical to be timely with your response. You can give the right answer at the wrong time and lose a deal.

What did I leave out? What are you doing to improve your advanced skills?

Chaotic Good adventurer on a quest to optimize the lives of others. Husband & Father to Wolverines. Founder of RETSO + Managing Director at Path & Post.

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  1. Judy Peterson

    August 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

    This is a good list. I totally agree that communication skills,( listening more than speaking), are critical skills for all of us to master. Especially as Realtors, we meet people at the crossroads of some stressful times and the personal quality of listening and being empathic are so important. It’s the best way to make customers for life.

  2. Amy Webb

    August 16, 2008 at 1:27 pm


    You took the words right out of my mouth…I was going to also add “empathy” to the list of important skills: you put it perfectly above.

  3. Alicia

    August 16, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    What a great list! I am an investor in VA and am fortunate enough to be working with a great real estate agent who has a good grasp of all of the items on your list. Having her on my team has been a major factor to my success as an investor.


  4. Dan Connolly

    August 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Diplomacy may be a skillset that was left off the list. To me that is the most important skill a good Realtor can have. Communication, coupled with that ability to present the important information in a style that the client can hear, can frequently make or break a negotiation.

  5. Brad Nix

    August 16, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    @Dan Diplomacy is a great one! It sort of combines # 3, 5, & 10. A very high-level skill indeed.

  6. Paul Dunn

    August 16, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Brad you are right on and I’ve found a ton of value in the past over at lifehack.

  7. James Bridges

    August 18, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I am glad that you put #1 as having two parts to it. Educating clients is a huge part to real estate so that they can be confident in pursuing a purchase or wanting to sell their home.

    #9 is essential for agents who want to produce at a high level. From general computing skills to the education to learn as new technologies emerge, it will help you master elements of #6 🙂

  8. Pingback: Finding a Real Estate Agent | The Roxburgh Group

  9. Jonathon Kelso

    September 12, 2018 at 1:16 am

    Skills can make you successful agents and can take your real estate career to the next level. Hence it is very important to choose the right set of skills. Thanks for sharing the list. It was very helpful.

  10. Pingback: 7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Realtors – Marketing Slayer

  11. Alex

    May 3, 2019 at 8:58 am

    My mom is thinking about using the services of a real estate agent to move into a new home. She is not sure if this is the right idea or not. If all the real estate agents have these set of skills I will let her know to work with one so that she would have protection.

    • Lani Rosales

      May 6, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      It’s just like going to court – you don’t HAVE to use a lawyer, but you should because they know the ropes and protect you. 😀

  12. Rebecca Gardner

    August 31, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    It was interesting when you explained that real estate agents need negotiation skills to help their clients reach their goals. My husband and I want to work with a realtor to save time and stress when we look for a house closer to his new job. Thanks for teaching me what qualities to look for as we start the process of reaching out to potential realtors soon!

  13. Pingback: How to Become a Real Estate Agent Using These Insights

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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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