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33 tips for the three types of real estate agents



There are 3 types of real estate agents… Those that have forgotten more bright ideas than they can remember, those filling their heads with all the new bright ideas they can find and those that have both forgotten more than they can remember and are always on the lookout for new bright ideas.

There are 3 types of challenges for all real estate agents… the status-quo will not maintain your business, choosing solid gold over fool’s gold and moving our chosen ideas out of the imaginary feel-good world of good intentions and into the real world arena of action, implementation and monetization.

Which ever type you are. . .

I thought these ideas were solid-gold and were realistically simple to implement.  I plucked these ideas from a 59 page list of Twitter sized ideas submitted by attendees at Prudential Real Estate’s Top Producer Summit conference.

  1. Use video chat to meet your relocation clients face-to-face often before they relocate! Be the source of the source!
  2. Find an article, fact or something at least once a week to post on your blog or Facebook.
  3. Start networking in your office! Know you team.
  4. Offer to sponsor the local high school play! Print their programs for them in exchange for your info on the back!
  5. Volunteer to read one day a month at a senior home/school.
  6. Buy an external hard drive and back up your computer weekly.
  7. Be the water stop sponsor for a local running group.
  8. Send a “welcome to your new home” to the new buyer who purchased your listing and add them to your mailing list.  Even if they weren’t your buyer.
  9. Always wear a name badge.
  10. Communicate with your clients based on how they communicate with you.
  11. Every day that you don’t prospect, ask yourself “Why?” and refuse to use that excuse again.
  12. Send lots of personal notes.
  13. Hire a professional photographer.
  14. Add free and open Wi-Fi to your listing for all buyer agents to use when visiting any of your listings.
  15. Pick one new tool or technology to learn each week and become an expert.
  16. Start every day with a clear and measurable goal. Know what a successful day looks like before your feet hit the floor.
  17. Remember anyone can be a client, so be kind when you meet people.
  18. A thank you goes so much farther when it is hand written.
  19. When your buyer has completely moved into their new home, offer to have their house warming party for them. Let them invite 20 of their top friends.  You, the agent, can buy the food and of course a nice bottle of wine.  Home owners buy drinks.  Now you are there at their party.
  20. It’s a price war.  Keep getting price reductions.
  21. Instead of a sign-rider saying call me, it should say text me for info on this house!!
  22. Create email signatures for the things you send out often.
  24. Ask your clients how they would like you to communicate with them.  Some prefer email, some phone, others only text.
  25. The status quo will not maintain your business.
  26. Surround yourself with people that support your goals and who are fearless.
  27. We cannot control the market.  We can control our attitude and focus.  Become the agent that buyers and sellers seek to make it happen!
  28. When I get a buyer I send a mock offer to them right away.  Then when I see them or talk to them again, I review it with them.  It allows us the chance to answer all questions or concerns before we write the final offer.
  29. Stop making excuses and devote 5 hours a week to prospecting.
  30. A busy day doesn’t mean a good day if you haven’t reached out to 5-10 clients in your database or recent contacts.
  31. In order to not be overwhelmed on my cell phone with inquiries, and to separate new folks from signed clients, I use a unique telephone number from Google Voice.  Messages are transcribed and sent to email, or a number can be forwarded to your assistant.
  32. Luck is predictable.  If you want more luck, take more chances, show up more often, try more things.
  33. Send closing sheets copy to clients in January from previous year’s closings.

The status-quo will not maintain your business.

What I’m going to do is implement at least one of these ideas per week. They say it takes twenty-one repetitions to create a new habit, I’m going to keep that in mind in my quest for success.  If you have some ideas you’d like to share, twitter sized or otherwise, please share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Darin

    November 29, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I think #26 is super underrated!!!!

    • Ken Brand

      November 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      I think you’re right Darin, the biz is super mental and emotional. If people you hang with aren’t supportive and empowering, it hurts your chances and keeps things from blooming. Cheers.

  2. Cindy Marchant

    November 29, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Awesome list…I would add (to #3) start networking across your State and the States. I know many are not a fan of Active Rain (I am) but however that looks to you (i.e. Star Power, Your Company Conferences, Facebook, whatever)…network with other agents across the country. We live in a very transient world..get used to it. Be a resource for those moving out of your area by “knowing” a great agent where they are “going to”. Be a resource for those agents looking for a great agent for their clients moving to “where you are”.

    • Ken Brand

      November 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      That’s a sharp point Cindy, focusing on the bigger picture (networking locally and globally) can add some zoom to the bottom line. Cheers and thanks for sharing:-)

  3. Nanette Labastida

    November 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    ken, you always inspire me!

    • Ken Brand

      November 29, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      That means a lot to me Nanette. Thanks so much for sharing that:-)

  4. Kelsey Teel

    November 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Love this list! I agree–solid gold. Thanks for sharing, Ken!

    • Ken Brand

      November 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Kelsey. I guess it’s not really Rocket-Surgery, just smart, consistent, Exponential Little Bits (ELBs), and some action. cheers.

  5. Tom Ferry

    November 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Great ideas and thoughts on this list Ken!

    • Ken Brand

      November 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks Tom, I’m a simple messenger. Cheers to you and yours.


    December 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    great points in all, I love the one pick a new piece of tech and become an expert. I find it fun that so many people come to me for advice on phones, facebook etc etc


    • Ken Brand

      December 2, 2010 at 7:53 am

      Good for you Dave, it’s nice to be the go to guy and it’s even nicer that you share. I think one of the things that keeps people stuck is that they feel overwhelmed with all the new things to learn, so they freeze up. Picking one thing a week is the way go, less stress and more progress. Thanks for you comment. Cheers.

  7. MH for

    December 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    really great tips!!!! thanks for sharing!

  8. Agent Know How

    December 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    To your number 2: I love how it automatically assumes agents have a Blog when I see so many agents who do not. As much as it is important to post on your blog, it’s important to build your links to those blog posts. My suggestion is to comment often and frequently on other blogs that are similiar to your subject matter. Network with the authors.

    To your number 14, I just got a new router that allows me to have a guest account, which I thought was awesome. FREE WI-FI for all. Thats awesome. Along the same lines, I like when I get feedback immediately about a showing. TEXT FEEDBACK NOW at your number.

    And finally number 16 is going to be my guiding focus for 2011. Having a daily plan makes a powerful impact. It might help to add: Let some or all calls go to vmail and put out the fires on your own schedule.

    I will be posting up some of these suggestions on my FB wall. Love the list!

    • Ken Brand

      December 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks and those are sharp ideas. I especially like the “make comments on blogs” suggestion. Two great things happen, it makes you and what you know known, discoverable and in-the-know because your reading and learning.

      Cheers and happy holidays.

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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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