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Blog Writing- 10 Points of Pause



Creating a Blog Post

As most of you know, Darren Rowse is kind of my go-to guy when it comes to blogging and his recent article regarding blog creation hit home. We talk to people every day here on AG that range from pre-blogger to veteran-blogger and what we all have in common is that we’re interested in perfecting our blogging skills. Problogger suggests that when writing, there are 10 points in which you should pause so you can maximize the success of each article you write (not just your site as a whole which is where many blog advisers focus). We encourage you to read Darren’s entire article for awesome blogging guidance! The 10 Points of Pause are excerpted below:

Choosing a Topic - take a little extra time defining your topic and the post will flow better and you’ll develop something that matters to readers

Your Post’s Title - perhaps the most crucial part of actually getting readers to start reading your post when they see it in an RSS reader or search engine results page.

The Opening Line - first impressions matter. Once you’ve got someone past your post’s title your opening line draws them deeper into your post.

Your points - a post needs to have a point. If it’s just an intriguing title and opening you’ll get people to read - but if the post doesn’t ‘matter’ to them it’ll never get traction

Call to Action - driving readers to do something cements a post in their mind and helps them to apply it and helps you to make a deeper connection with them.

Adding Depth - before publishing your post - ask yourself how you could add depth to it and make it even more useful and memorable to readers?

Quality Control and Polishing - small mistakes can be barriers to engagement for some readers. Spending time fixing errors and making a post ‘look’ good can take it to the next level.

Timing of Publishing Your Post - timing can be everything - strategic timing of posts can ensure the right people see it at the right time.

Promotion - having hit publish - don’t just leave it to chance that your post will be read by people. Giving it a few strategic ‘nudges’ can increase the exposure it gets exponentially.

Conversation - often the real action happens once your post is published and being interacted with by readers and other bloggers. Taking time to dialogue can be very fruitful.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Jonathan Dalton

    August 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Man, I’m screwed.

  2. The Harriman Team

    August 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Yeah…what Jonathan said.

  3. Missy Caulk

    August 19, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Me too, LOL

  4. Drew Meyers

    August 19, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Once again, I love your creativity Lani!

  5. Vicki Moore

    August 19, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I count on you to lead me in the right direction. Thanks, once again, for the sign.

  6. Jamey Bridges

    August 19, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Great points, especially if we practice them on each and every post. 🙂

    I would say though to be careful on the “timing” aspect as that can lead some people to save their best for a time that never comes. A post at CopyBlogger “Are you throwing away your best content ideas?” makes a good point of you gotta get your content out there so people can actually see it.

  7. Laura Cannon

    August 19, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I see the point of this entry, and I think it can be helpful on a basic level; however, I am not sure that successful writers have a methodology that is as stark as this. These topics are all important, but I think they are all at play under the surface of successful writing. In other words, articulating them out loud is not the answer; you either have it or you don’t. If you’re blogging, you should know how to write well. It’s essential.

    I would compare it to teaching someone to play tennis. The pros don’t “step, stretch, swing, keep their on the ball, place their shot, hit, follow-through, etc..” They just play; their mind is higher level strategic thinking, not where their feet are. Their feet know where to go.

    All that being said, there is a lot of bad, bad writing out in the blogosphere. So, maybe there is a need for some to learn the basics. Or, maybe they should think about taking up another hobby like sewing or golf. 🙂

  8. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    August 19, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Laura, let’s not forget, there are numerous ways to blog- photo blogs, video blogs, written blogs, etc. Your personality attracts like personalities regardless of the quality of writing (which 90% of the time in the blogiverse is actually awful). If you love golf, write about golf communities! If you love the arts district, take endless photos of your surroundings. Not everyone needs a literary degree… I have a framed English degree from the University of Texas but I am far from being a better writer than everyone in the blogiverse (one writer that comes to mind is actually an Engineer by degree).

    It’s crucial to note that even veteran bloggers get into a certain rhythm and can forget a basic step here and there or are never comfortable with particular steps- mine is the opening line while others struggle with quality control. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to believe they don’t need constant grooming (and re-grooming) of their skills. There is no BA in Blogging because we’re living the crash course live in action.

    I realize that your comment was simply reinforcing the idea that great writers are born not made, but I feel extremely passionate about writing being a tertiary skill in blogging with personality and promotion being the primary and secondary skills.

  9. Jay Thompson

    August 20, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I think these are all good points (although the yellow one is blinding on these tired old eyes, but that is neither here nor there).

    Maybe I do some of these sub-consciously, but to be honest, I don’t believe I really think about them. I just write. And usually not very well.

    I’m not sure every post needs every step, but it’s a dandy little reminder. Mayhap I’ll pay a little more attention next time I write a post and see which of these I do well, and more likely, which one’s I’m missing completely.

    Laura – take up golf? I can’t hit a golf ball straight for anything. Writing is a LOT easier than whacking that little ball around!

  10. Laura Cannon

    August 20, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Lani, you write: “The biggest mistake anyone can make is to believe they don’t need constant grooming (and re-grooming) of their skills.” This is so true, and to go back to my tennis analogy, even the pros double-fault and find themselves “off their game” now and then. I sometimes cringe when I go back and read something I wrote months ago. The topic seemed so relevant and clever at the time, but in hindsight it seems long and overbearing. No doubt I could have used some pauses.

    I agree that writing in the sense of being grammatically correct is a tertiary skill. There is no doubt that personality is the dominant force in writing that succeeds with its audience. Shakespeare could have cared less about comma placement and consistent spelling. But, because good writing is so personality based, that is why I think it can’t be easily taught. But, of course, “grooming” is different. Everybody needs grooming.


  11. Kim Wood

    August 20, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I also read Darren, he has a lot of great advice – thanks for summing it up for us here.

    One thing to remember is the foundation is the important piece to any blog/post/article. These steps, while one might not focus on each one every article they write (I agree, Laura) – they are steps that should not be forgotten and we need to be reminded of every once in a while.

    I’ve come a long way…. but have a long way to go… these things help – thanks, Lani!

  12. Cedar City real estate

    August 21, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I liked this article very much. These are some very good points to keep in mind. I would add to pull at people’s emotion. Entice them in some way to why they have to read your post instead of moving on. I thought this post was really good with steps and points.

  13. Cedar City Homes

    September 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Great article! I always enjoy reading articles when the author actually knows what they are talking about. Thanks for the great information!

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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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