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Back To Square One: New Agent Focus

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Shimmer, Sparkle & a Little Dream

Out of focus.

Sometimes in life, you need to step back from what you’re doing and look at the big picture. With all that’s been going on in my life, I’ve been doing plenty of self-evaluation, some personal and some business related. In the business related category, I’ve been going through my goals and seeing what I can do to make them happen. In my personal self-evaluation – well you can guess where most of that is focused at the moment. Of course, AgentGenius is part of my business side. Not only does it allow me to interact with agents all across the country, but it also gives me time to test theories in my head and argue the case for what I believe. It makes me think more about real estate and the ideas behind it, so that not only can I write a new post for The Stigliano Chronicles, but also for my own learning and growth.

In going through the focus of my posts at AgentGenius, I realize at times I can get off track a bit. My goal is to talk about “new agent” topics and bring my experiences to the table. Although I’m not displeased with any of the off topic posts, I want to refocus my goals and try to move back to thinking of life as a new agent and discussing the ups, downs, and all arounds with you. Although AgentGenius has readers of all experience levels, my job is to speak to the newer agents and give my thoughts, lessons, and ideas. Of course, the more experienced agents have more than once learned a thing or two from something I wrote, and they often chime in to lend their experience to the conversations that take place in the comments.

What’s on your mind?

So as I try to refocus, one thing kept popping into my head: Who’s out there and what do they want to talk about? I know you’re here, I know you’re reading, so why not help be a part of The Stigliano Chronicles and tell me what your issues are? What do you wonder late at night? What successes or failures have you seen or learned from? What makes you frustrated because you can’t seem to wrap your head around it? What do you want to know?

By focusing back on you, the reader, I think I can redefine my role as an AgentGenius contributor. Feel like you’re not new because you’ve been in the business a year or more? Doesn’t matter. You can always be a new agent – it’s not a dirty word around here. One thing I learned early on here at AgentGenius, where I read the words of much more experienced writers and agents, was that even the people I put on real estate pedestals are learning too. Some of the people I respect most in the business come here to learn and discuss things they may not have thought about before.

You should know by now that I’m always eager to write and experience new things. With that in mind, help me push The Stigliano Chronicles in the directions that you need and want it to go.

photo courtesy of lepiaf.geo

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Janie Coffey

    January 14, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I think the biggest things new agents could do is a) determine who they want to reach and b) determine the best method that resonates with them personally and their target audience (ie internet marketing, expired, mailings, social media) and then work those options and perfect them. Find ones that are low cost as you get started and let revenue lead spending, not just jumping on every new band wagon. It might be helpful to detail them different lead generation techniques, pros and cons and possible cost and turn around time. This would have helped me as a new agent…

    • Bob

      January 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      The last thing agents need to do when they are struggling is to look to social media as a profitable prospecting tool that will generate immediate business. It isn’t, and the social media gurus who keep pushing SM as an alternative to getting back to basics and getting belly to belly are doing more harm than good.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      Janie – One of the things I find fascinating about real estate is that you can take 50 agents, put them in a room and then ask, “What’s the most effective method of marketing?” Guess how many answers you’ll get? It probably won’t be 50 different answers, but I bet the number of different responses will be surprising. We all work real estate in different ways and each of us can find different methods that will work for us, but not the next agent. I’ve tried a few different things that just didn’t feel right to me (Buffini) and I’ve tried a few that felt great and have become regular parts of my day.

      Bob – You’re a great example of what I was just saying to Janie. You’re a firm believer (if I understand you correctly) that nothing beats face to face. You regularly comment with a dislike for social media, yet there are agents who who disagree. I think the backlash of faith in social media comes from a misunderstanding – there are plenty of people out there touting it as the “answer.” There are people out there touting expireds, coaching, FSBOs, and various systems as the “answer.” I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. I don’t think Brian Buffini will make me rich and I don’t think Twitter will either. I do however think that Twitter (and social media overall) can increase my presence and help me make the connections that result is what everyone loves – closings. Building that isn’t easy, then again either is talking to strangers face to face about real estate. Nothing is easy and I’m okay with that. I have to work at it to get out of it what I want.

      I know we’ll never see eye to eye on this issue, but I do look forward to your comments on your views on social media.

  2. BawldGuy

    January 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    From time to time I mentor new or newish agents around the country. They ask the same questions you’ve addressed over time in many of your posts. What they either don’t get, or won’t get, is that as rookies, the bulk of their time needs to be spent talking/meeting with prospects who just might tell them to go to hell — or do business with them.

    The rest is interesting, but produces nothing but more Von’s checkers.

    I’ll bet you can write persuasively about how you went about making those conversations/meetings possible.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      BawldGuy – Learning to accept rejection in any form is a big part of our business. You have to hear “no thanks” to get to the “let’s get started.” Ahhhh, a Von’s reference. I would have went with a Ralph’s name drop (or in the TX case as mentioned by Thomas – HEB).

  3. Thomas A. B. Johnson

    January 14, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    BG: For us Texans, I have to help with the translation. Here it would be HEB checkers.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      Thomas – Lucky for me I know what a Giant, Von’s, Albertsons, Ralph’s, Genuardi’s, and Safeway are. Oh and Pathmark – do they even exist anymore?

  4. joespake

    January 14, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    As my life gets a little tougher (my wife is a loan officer- so 2 straight commission folks), i have had to really re-assess a lot of aspects of my life. Strangely enough, the thing that seemed most important to do as a first step was to re-arrange my lists on Tweetdeck.
    It is time for me to quit “playing social media” and start using it more as another (albeit huge) tool in my business. This said by someone who derives as much business from new media.
    I spent lots of time in 2009 playing, hanging out, being a part of the ongoing social media cool kids party. So everyone wants to be one of the cool kids, righ? The cool kids have their own list, and it is out of view in my Tweetdeck columns, with priority going to raving fans, real contributors (the small number of folks of the caliber of Brogan and Solis), and a few real estate thought leaders. Same goes for my RSS feeds. I feel liberated already.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      Joe – Sorry to hear things have been tougher. Glad to hear that you’ve been re-assessing though. I have noticed that many social media-ites that I once knew to be a bit more “fun” have become a bit more business. I don’t see that as a bad thing. Of course, I don’t think that the “fun” should ever leave social media, because once you become the broadcast machine with no connection back to the people that follow/friend/like you, I think you’re doomed.

  5. Bruce Lemieux

    January 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    My advice would be to spend less time on AgentGenius and other agent-on-agent social media sites – spending time here won’t get business. To be successful in this business, you must develop and work your lead generation sources. How are you going to meet prospects? Make a list:

    – Referrals from your sphere of influence,
    – Past clients (tough when you are just starting out)
    – Open Houses
    – Buyers from your site
    – Expireds
    – FSBOs
    – Geographical farm, etc.

    I would have at least five sources and then implement a plan for each. If you don’t have listings for open houses, then do them for agents in your office. Want to develop a presence in a geographical farm, implement a *targeted* direct mail program. Knock doors on expired listings, etc. In all cases, you need to be talking/connecting with home owners and buyers *on a consistent basis*. I find that creating and maintaining client relationships are really hard work – there isn’t a way around it.

    The best book single book that I’ve come across is The Millionaire Agent. It could be better organized (IMO), but one message rings clear: you are in the lead generation business. Without it, you have nothing. SM clearly can be part of your lead-generation arsenal, but it’s also full of distractions.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

      Great concise ideas Bruce. Too much agent-to-agent socializing can be a real time suck, here and several other places on the RE.net. When time is spent wisely learning (as opposed to just having fun), it can be invaluable. I have never ever worked for a traditional brokerage that provided any kind of training and do love the MREA book (have several copies), yet the knowledge I have gained here, on AR and other SM sites w/other agents (either reading, lurking or communicating) has skyrocketed my understanding and depth of RE. The “social” aspect can be very alluring and hard to break free of, but I see a change occuring where agents “played” alot on SM and other sites over the past few years, but are really regrouping and honing in on the best ways to use them to increase both their knowledge and their business.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      Bruce – The words about AgentGenius seem a bit unnecessary in the context of what my post was asking, but I’ll ask you this…is there some sort of time between new and not-so-new that you would recommend an agent to read AgentGenius or spend time on agent-to-agent sites? I think there is a lot to be said for AgentGenius as it is a great place to learn from more experienced agents. I read articles from all sorts of agents with all sorts of opinions on all sorts of topics. Will it get me business? Maybe not in the direct sense of “Hi this is Bob Buyer and I just read your post/comment on AgentGenius…” (although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear an AgentGenius writer with a story about it), but without learning I’d still be a new agent without a clue. I know agents that started around the same time I did and know I have a distinct advantage over them – my knowledge and understanding of the issues.

      I do agree with the idea that it can take up a lot of time and be a distraction to some, but that goes for anything in real estate. You can attend BNI and networking events ’til you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t know how to use them to your advantage, you’re just attending events and maybe getting a free drink or two. I see that all the time with the builder’s showcases – some people come to learn about a new development and some come for a free lunch, door prizes, and a couple of drinks.

      Janie – I think social media as it pertains to real estate is starting to find some good ideas of how to use it and is starting to refine those ideas. I think as that happens, there will be less “playing” (I hate to say “social aspect” as I think the social part is what makes it work for our agent to prospective client talk). It’s still a very new world and as I have started seeing more and more naysayers, I’m beginning to think it’s finally reaching a critical mass where it will become more business and less fun. Still social in nature, just finding new ways to connect without playing Farmville all day long.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        January 19, 2010 at 11:06 pm

        Matt – I really wish you every success, and my intent was not to knock AG. Being successful at real estate is hard, yet it isn’t. Be the expert in your target market — a collection of neighborhoods, a type of home (condos, homes with acreage, historical homes, etc). See every home in your market. Blog about them. Do videos about them. Know the builders, know the history, know everything about them. Be the expert. Work harder to know your market better than anyone else.

        Then you’ve got to generate leads in your target market – this is the foundation of your business. Without leads you have no business. Period. Hold open houses (if you don’t have the listings, hold them open for people in your office). Before having an open house, knock on all of the neighbors doors in advance and invite them over. Meet people. Start building your database of contacts. And then contact them – you must make the calls. Converting leads is hand-to-hand combat – this isn’t a passive activity. Everyday, talk to prospects. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll find this to be easy work. If you are like me, then it’s a lot harder — it’s not something I like doing. But I have learned that it’s a requirement, there isn’t a substitute.

        If you are a new agent starting out, give yourself a goal: “I’m going to sell X homes in my market in the next 4 months”. Put the goal in front of you, and everyday take steps to make it happen. Knock on doors if you have to. Be unstoppable.

        Having conversations with other agents won’t get you where you need to be.

  6. Jeddie Busch

    February 25, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    I completely agree with both of you. Real Estate is never a quick win. It takes time to push through and establish a portfolio of value that you can work with

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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

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

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

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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