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How to

Ask Me Again And I’ll Pull The Trigger!



Or, How To Sell More Without Spending Money or Shooting Your Loved Ones.

Days Blur . . .

You’re exhausted and frustrated.

You’re working hard and smart; networking, holding open houses, showing buyers, running comps, social mediaing, schlepping laundry, carpooling kids to practice, grocery shopping, running herd on teenagers, serving meals and doing all the work – domestic and otherwise.

To top if off, at the end of a looooong day you hear this irritating question.  In fact if you hear this freaking question one more time, someone’s gonna get shot . . . bang-bang.

Hey Honey/Baby/_____, Did You Sell Any Houses Today?

Loved One/Friend: Did you sell anything today?

Aspiring Achiever/You:  Not yet, I’m working on it.

Loved One/Friend:  Well, when will you?  Your business is costing us a fortune, money pours out and nothings coming in.  If you don’t sell something  soon, Fill In What Bad Thing Will Happen.

At this point you’re frustrated by the lack of support and understanding and the conversation likely turns into a defensive, apologetic or otherwise unproductive exchange of words and feelings.  Instead of feeling angry or like you have to defend, apologize or justify yourself and your career choice, use a new strategy to turn things around.   What I want you to do is ask the question asking pressure-cooker to help you.  I want you to make them responsible include them in your quest for success.

If you do this right, you’ll generate more business, give the question asker an appreciation for what you do, and maybe more importantly — shut them up.

Here’s how…

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

The next time a loved one asks you how many houses you’ve sold or listed today, say something like this…

Aspiring Achiever/You: I’m glad you brought that up.  I’m working really hard and I’m feeling good about the future, but I could sure use your help — can I ask you a favor?

Loved One/Friend:  Sure, I guess so.

Aspiring Achiever/You:  Great!  Here’s the deal babe, about 70% of a successful agent’s listing and sales business comes from a friend, a past client or a referral recommendation  from a friend.  And most everyone we know knows 3 people who move a year. I’m working my ass off to connect with my friends and contacts.  Here’s where your help comes in, I bet you know 3 people from the gym or work who moved within the last year, don’t you?

Loved One/Friend: I guess so, what does that have to do with anything?  Whata-ya-mean?

Aspiring Achiever/You:  It means everything.  Here’s the deal babe, instead of asking me everyday how many sales and listing I’ve made, I’m going to ask you who you know at work or the gym, or where ever, who has mentioned they might be making a move.  I want you to keep your eyes and ears open, when someone mentions real estate or moving, I don’t want you to do or say anything to them!  I want you to tell me about it, then I’ll figure out how to best approach the situation.  If you’ll do this for me, I’ll sell more, list more and we’ll make more.

Will you do that for us?

Loved One/Friend:  Sure.

It Can Be That Simple.

Don’t Let Opportunity Slip Away.

Don’t feel bad about what you’re doing.

Don’t shoot your significant others.

Do form a partnership.  Instead of answering their stupid questions that get you nowhere and nothing, begin asking them smart questions that get you somewhere and something.

New Partnership – Shared Responsibility – Feel Better – Do Better

It’s been my experience that most civilians, including our significant-others, are clueless about how the business really works.  It’s up to us to share how it works and what their role is.

The next time you’re asked “the question”, don’t defend or feel bad – boost your business by creating a partnership.

Good luck in the New Year and let me know how it goes.

Photo Credit

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. Sheila Rasak

    November 22, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Yet one more AG article that I can relate to (other than the honey bunny part). I’m a machine. I work at work, I work at home, I work in the field, and then I come home and work some more. Then I do the laundry, marketing, pharmacy run, dry cleaners, nails (if I’m lucky), cook, and clean.

    I have a 21 year old daughter and an 82 year old father depending on me to bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan. Yes, I am woman (I’m not roaring as it’s 4:19 am and I’ll wake the others).

    The good news is I’m the only one who applies the pressure, the bad news is that every once in a blue moon I have to put on the brakes and call a family meeting to announce I’m not Wonder Woman and if one more person asks me where the peanut butter is without looking, the buck stops here and they’re going to have to hire someone to find it for them.

    By the way, do you know anyone who will be buying, selling, or investing in Ventura County or Santa Barbara within the next year? If so, let me know because I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything! (And I’m a tireless machine.)

    • Ken Brand

      November 22, 2010 at 7:53 am

      The saying that success is real estate is not a job, it’s a life style – is on the money. Even Wonder Woman needs to set the family straight – amen. My son Nick is going to school in Santa Barbara, he knows the drill. If he hears of any opportunity, he’ll share it and I’ll send it along. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing Sheila. Cheers.

  2. SteveBeam

    November 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I guess I was very lucky. My wife was super supportive when I started this business 11 years ago. She knew it would take time to get it going and it did but now we all reap the benefits.

    Staying in contact with past clients is “THE KEY” to success in this business. It is the golden pill every new broker is looking for.

    • Ken Brand

      November 22, 2010 at 10:06 am

      You’re exactly right, we’re our own Silver Bullets, contact, conversation, sharing and solving is the answer. And if you can super size your opportunity through the generous support of those close to you. Boom-shocka-locka! Cheers and have a Happy ThanksGiving.

  3. Mark Brian

    November 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Boy does this ever hit home! I can only hope using this idea could mean fewer motivational beatings from my loving wife though…..

    • Ken Brand

      November 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Ha, no free lunches, everyone works. All the best is 2011. Cheers.

  4. BawldGuy

    November 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Man, Ken, you’re flirting with the third rail here. 🙂

    I’ve seen more men with incredibly promising careers leave the business prematurely due to spousal created pressure than all other reasons combined, sans this current correction. Sadly, I’ve also seen far too many marriages run aground because the husband didn’t become an agent stud quickly enough. What’s worse? There have been a number of times I’ve witnessed a family breakup only to see the guy breakout several months later, often making more money than he had in previous jobs. Sometimes this has made him lovable again, but not in most cases.

    I’ve long said that for much of the ‘newbie’ portion of the real estate brokerage community, the understanding and supportive working wife is the backbone.

    • Ken Brand

      November 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      Yes sir, like most every successful adventure quest, it takes all hands on deck and some sweaty work. When everyone understands what their role is, things can happen faster and financially funner. Like you, I’ve seen so many get close, only to have their partner yank the choker-chain.

      Also, I think we’d both agree, if an agent’s not doing the hard-daily-work, then they shouldn’t torture themselves, their family/partner(s), or the occasional victim. The willing to work should hit the ejection button and pull the ripcord.

      Thanks for sharing, have a nice Thanksgiving Jeff. Cheers.

  5. Teresa boardman

    November 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    If my spousal unit called me “babe” he would be sooooo dead.

    • Ken Brand

      November 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      Guess he knows better? It’s interesting to hear what some couples call each other. If Robyn calls me Ken, I know I’m in trouble. I’m used to “hey”, but mostly it’s “babe”. Happy Thanksgiving:-)

  6. Meg Hurtado for Movoto

    November 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    hey, great article. can definitely apply to other professions, but especially apt for the real estate game.

    • Ken Brand

      November 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks Meg. Um-hum, most all business is people business I think. Happy Thanksgiving, thanks for the comment.

  7. Kelsey Teel

    November 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Ken!

    I’ve seen this spousal pressure played out multiple times. Especially when the economy crashed…I know of an agent who was busting her butt to make a sale, but it just wasn’t happening. Her solution to her husband’s nagging was printing the MLS statistics and showing him “Hey, I’m not the only one not closing a sale. In fact, less than 15% of agents in this area closed a sale last month–give me a break.”

    The solution you presented is even better. No matter how much the industry and market conditions have changed, referrals are still a HUGE portion of business for all the realtors I’ve spoken to lately.

    Great article! 🙂

  8. Les

    November 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Very funny article. This is one of the reasons I think a lot of people get out of the business.

    • Ken Brand

      November 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks. Yeah, like most things in life, it’s easier, faster and funner if everyone close to you is Out-Loud supportive. Cheers.

  9. Coleen DeGroff

    November 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Hi Ken,
    One of the things I’m most thankful for in my life is having a very supportive husband. He understands it takes awhile to build a business, and by “build a business” I mean “spend a bunch of money I don’t have and charge it to my business credit card”. I am VERY thankful my husband has a good job which brings in a check, and I am VERY thankful he understands that this real estate overnight success thing takes a few years to get going.

    That’s a wonderful suggestion you have re having our spouse keep their eyes/ears open and let us know when they hear about anyone contemplating a move….that strategy sure is helping me grow my Gainesville real estate business!

    Thanks for the great post. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      November 29, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      That’s awesome Coleen, lucky for me, my Robyn has been supportive since we first met over 28 years ago. It makes it easier and faster and saner. Thanks for sharing and all the best in 2011 and beyond. Cheers

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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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