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18 business books every Realtor should read – recommended by fellow agents

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The importance of reading

We may be biased because the currency we deal in is reading and writing, but it is easy to get caught up in digital reading and forget the importance of tangible books. It is no simple theory that reading non-digital books is important- according to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, “There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans.Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. These negative trends havemore than literary importance.” Further, the study claims that “the declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.”

We all know the famous Dr. Seuss line, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Even Confucius weighed in about reading, saying, “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” But reading is more than simply cramming your brain full, it is about becoming more than you already are. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader,” said Margaret Fuller, which sums up what we are opining today. Read the news, read it diligently and read as many blogs and articles you can get your hands on, but don’t forget to buy a tangible book and step away from the computer screen from time to time.

18 recommendations from other agents

We asked our readers what books they believe every agent should read and which books have impacted their lives. Below are the covers of 18 of their recommendations (not listed in order of importance):


  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
  3. Less Blah Blah More Ah Ha by Ken Brand (AGBeat columnist)
  4. The 7 Levels of Communication by Michael J. Maher
  5. We’re All Weird by Seth Godin
  6. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  7. The One Minute Salesperson by Spencer Johnson
  8. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
  9. What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
  10. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
  11. Excuses Begone! by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
  12. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg & John David Mann
  13. Sell With Soul by Jennifer Allan
  14. The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller
  15. Shift by Gary Keller
  16. The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
  17. Endless Referrals by Bob Burg
  18. The Greatest Salesman in the World OG Mandino

We encourage you to visit your favorite bookstore (support local booksellers!) or if you must, go online to order any of the books above or below – simply jot down the name and pick it up at your convenience. We are not linking to any book source so as not to directly sell any book over another or any seller over another.

BONUS: two AGBeat columnists have recently published books for the real estate industry:

Please check them out!

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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147 Comments

147 Comments

  1. Christi Borden

    November 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Great list. I am especially proud that the wonderful book written by my friend and colleague, Ken Brand, has been recognized as number three on this very impressive list. This is only his first book…cannot wait for what he has in store for us in his next effort

  2. Michael J. Maher

    November 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you to David Van Noy, Jr. for posting this article to my Timeline on FB. It is an honor to be mentioned with these books. To have ((7L)) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals on this list (and recommended by agents to you) rewards a nearly 3-year journey to attempt to deliver the perfect book on implementing a business based on generosity – a business whose philosophy attracts referrals. Your 18 books should be required reading for every new agent and your list provides 18 suggestions for book clubs/masterminds for experienced agents. Once again, thank you for the mention.

    Blessings,

    Michael

  3. Ken Brand

    November 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    It's a supremely flattering feeling to be included in this list. I hope real estate agents and others find it a helpful and enjoyable read. Cheers and thanks so much to everyone.

  4. Christie Ellis

    November 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    What a great book selection!! I look forward to reading the ones I haven't yet. Actually 2 of the books on here, Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver, changed my course of business so much I became a certified consultant for Bob Burg so I could add more value when serving my clients. Thank you again for the great list!!!

  5. agentknowhow

    November 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Great List. I read Michael Maher's book recently and it was by far my favorite reads of the year. One other author I would like to add is Malcolm Gladwell, and his book Outliers which looks at what makes people successful.

    Every book on this list is an opportunity for agents and SBOs alike to learn something new. If not new, than at least a reaffirmation of what they already know. Sometimes, it's the deliver that matters and not so much the content. (I can't remember what why Think and Grow Rich was an influential book in my life, but I remember the feeling I had when I was reading it). I am addicted to learning and self-improvement. As such, I just wanted thank you for generating this required reading list.

  6. === TC McClenning ===

    November 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Good list. I would also add that Seth Godin has several other great books besides the one included here. Other recommendations:

    The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David M. Scott
    Really takes one's marketing efforts into the 21st century and would be a great read for any business field.

    All in A Day's Work for Real Estate Agents–Humorous & Heartwarming Stories, a funny read of more than 100 true stories attributed to agents in 44 states. Excerpts available in the media section of the publisher's website, http://www.WorkLikeaDogBooks.com And doesn't every Realtor work like a dog?!

  7. Paul Giannantonio

    February 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    So glad "The Greatest Salesman in the World" by Og Mandino was on this list. I read it for the first time in 1979 and it changed my life. I still go back and sections of it on a regular basis. I recommend it to all my agents. If you have never read it, do it now, it can change your life as well.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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