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Automation Rocks!

Being on the up and coming side of technology is the place to be. I’m convinced! Applying the latest and greatest tools reviewed here at Agent Genius helps to keep the business advanced in the tech department and that’s the side I want to be on.

Automation ROCKS! Keeping in touch with clients is made easier with an automatic process in use. Different venues offer great alternatives: direct mail services – automatic postcards, cards, or letters mailed to your client list; drip email campaigns – email your list newsletters, stats, etc; auto-responders – answer email for you; and handwritten card services – send handwritten cards (I think they resonate fake, jussayin’).

You are Forgettable

You can not replace personal touch with any automated service. Making sure you have at least three personal touches in a year is ideal. As with anything else, balance and variety is essential. Did you know that one of the biggest reasons sellers do not use the agent they used to purchase the house is that they couldn’t recall the agent’s name? Don’t be that agent.

Here are some quick ideas for personal touch: (I’d love to hear yours)

  • In between appointments pick up your phone with your handy dandy imported contact list, “I just showed a house with a see through-fireplace just like yours! Have you used it yet?”
  • A “Happy Birthday” wish by phone says more than a comment on Facebook. If you’re really brave you could even sing it! I bet that would be remembered and maybe even talked about later.
  • Take an hour out of your vacation time and send postcards to 50 of your favorite clients.
  • Do you remember that your Buyer always had a cup of Starbucks coffee with them? Send them a $5 gift card, just because.
  • New Baby? Anniversary? House Anniversary? Make a personalized Real Estate Show to help celebrate.
  • Are you showing your listing? Bring a bunch of flowers and add it to the table with a note.

Don’t neglect the Personal Touch

There are endless possibilities to keep in touch to enhance automated touches. Just remember, that with all the technology available, don’t forget about the personal one.

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  1. Sarah Cooper

    October 11, 2008 at 7:00 am

    I *LOVE* the idea of bringing flowers when you show your own listing!!

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    October 11, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Wow, Kim, thanks for the great reminder and the creative ideas! This is just the kind of stuff I was looking for to enhance my plan for 2009. Keep the inspiration coming, girl!

    PS-Go Phils!!

  3. Matt Stigliano

    October 11, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Kim – the flowers at a listing idea is excellent. There multiple benefits right there. The seller sees you care, their home looks and smells nice, and the potential buyers see what you do is above and beyond many agents.

    I try to reach out to everyone as often as I can. And I try to personalize everything. When I bought my house here (pre-license) I even got my agent a gift for his extra hard work. We were both hockey fans I remembered so I got him an autographed Patrick Roy photo (Colorado’s greatest goalie – agent grew up in CO). That kind of thinking is what I try to do for clients. Pay attention to the little details in conversation and clients will be thrilled that you remembered!

    I make notes in my database to “refresh” my memory when making calls or visiting. A local builder rep and I had some bounced email trouble when we first met, so I always say things like “let’s hope you get this email” or “I figured I’d call since your email and mine don’t get along” and she remembers me because of it. She called me yesterday to offer me an open house at their latest inventory home in a community that I am obsessed by, she knew I’d take it cause I always mention it in conversation. There’s plenty of agents that have done more for her, but because we talk about it, she thought of me (a guy who has sold 0 of her homes). To top it off, its the grand opening of the shopping center they built, so they will be doing extra advertising there with extra traffic. A little personal contact goes a long way.

  4. Amy Salisbury

    October 11, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Hi Kim,
    Awesome ideas as usual! One of the reasons we started our own brokerage was that being in a larger corporate setting, it seemed like we were forgetting that our clients were buying and selling their homes, a very personal thing. In this world of automation, providing the personal touch is paramount in building a loyal client base. Thanks!!!

  5. Kim Wood

    October 11, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Matt – I also try to be aware as I’m with people about the little things. I pull my phone out soon after and jot the notes in their contact 🙂 Great minds think alike, lol. Nice testimony to what your paying attention to the little things got you!! Yay – sell, sell, sell .

    Amy – It’s a good thing that you realized it and got out – now you can make the foundations in your brokerage stronger!

  6. Brian Block

    October 11, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Kim, a good reminder that we all need to be high-tech & high-touch! “Set it and forget it” may be a nice motto for rotisserie chicken cookers, but it doesn’t cut it in real estate.

  7. Missy Caulk

    October 11, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Kim, that would make the sellers very happy, if you brought flowers when you show their listings. One thing I did for awhile was take a candy bar, that I had covered with my wrap around, it said,
    “Thanks for giving me the opportunity to list your home” and I left it after the listing appointment.

    Great points you gave, no drip campaign can compete with the personal touch, after they are your clients.

  8. Matthew Hardy

    October 11, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Good post. Can’t tell you the number of times we’ve talked to agents who seemed, in essence, to want an “automatic button” for their success. One-on-one communication may not be required for buying a book on Amazon, but having a complete history of every past communication when you do make the call makes the personal touch really worthwhile.

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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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