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Blogging, Comments, Dischord, And Fugazi.



Fugazi Live - The Stigliano Chronicles

My Youth (of Today)

When I was younger, I was a huge fan of D.C. band, Fugazi. To this day, I still pull out those old LPs and listen to what I consider classic records. (Ok, so I don’t pull out the LPs, but instead scroll through my iPod to find them.) Fugazi marked a turning point in the late 80s hardcore scene and I was there to witness it all, even meeting and speaking with Fugazi several times.

Fugazi were known for their DIY (do-it-yourself) ethics and a stance against much of the violence that was plaguing many of the shows at the time. For those of you that weren’t into that whole music scene, let me explain; many bands were beginning to draw “crossover” crowds – metal heads and punks, prog rockers and skaters, stoners and skinheads – and these crowds often clashed. And when I say clashed, I mean fight. Nasty fights. Riots and ugliness. I’ve seen several happen right in front of. It’s not pretty.

Fugazi guitarist and vocalist, Ian MacKaye (formerly of straight edge hardcore band, Minor Threat), was known for admonishing those who chose violence (even in the form of slam dancing and moshing) during the middle of the show, while the rest of the band carried on behind him. He spoke individually to those that were causing the ruckus and at every show I ever saw him do it at, brought a calm peaceful resolution to the problems in the crowd. It was always quite a sight to behold.

Am I on the wrong site?

Ok, now that you feel as if you’ve been reading an old worn copy of Flipside, let me get to the point.

Fugazi were always known as being real (which is a curiosity in itself as the word fugazi is actually Italian slang for “fake”). Everyone knew that they meant what they said and said what they meant. If it was unpopular with the crowd, it didn’t matter. They were there to create amazing music and anything that stood in the way of that was fair game.

Me, I stopped trying to create amazing music onstage, but instead took to the real estate and blogging worlds. I’m attempting to create amazing real estate transactions and amazing blogs. Not everyone will come “peacefully“. There will be times when people who came to see me will not agree with everything I say and do. They will tell me I’m wrong for my beliefs or cause a ruckus. While not what I would call a riot by any stretch of the imagination, Bob Wilson’s recent comments on a post of mine have me thinking about conflict resolution.

Before anyone equates what I just said with “Bob Wilson is attacking me,” let me be clear; I like Bob, I loved his comments, and I respect his opinions. We are different. We think differently on this particular issue (and probably some others). While Bob and I went back and forth, trying to explain our individual positions, I reflected on the fact that this was probably my first real disagreement on something I’ve written (and Bob wasn’t the only one). In disagreeing with me, I found myself trying to explain my idea more in depth…although that didn’t change Bob’s mind anyway. A differing opinion is bound to happen on your blog someday. How you handle it can make a lot of difference.

The best position to take when there is a disagreement on your blog is to begin a dialogue. Although neither Bob nor I walked away knowing we had convinced the other of our opinions, I did hear a lot in Bob’s comments that I could relate to. By listening and opening yourself up to something different, you may just learn something or even change your opinion. They don’t have to be written in stone, that’s for sure.

I’m still a new agent and learning everyday (and will be long into the future) and an occasional disagreement between myself and someone on one of my blogs is good for me. It opens an opportunity for me to learn from someone else’s experience and knowledge. We all should be open and ready to learn from our peers – even if we don’t agree with them.

photo courtesy of intangibleArts

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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  1. Ken Brand

    December 2, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Matt, you’ve run off the rails here, I couldn’t disagree more. Ha, Ha, just kidding.

    This is great advice, when challenged, if we go fly’n off the handle, our regrettable counter-attact will scream louder than the point we’re trying to make and it will line on-line forever.

    PS. I’m really enjoying your writing style. You’ve continue to sharpen.


    • Matt Stigliano

      December 3, 2009 at 12:14 pm

      Ken – This train never was known to run on the rails all too well. Haha.

      I think it’s important to think of how and when to react. Obviously, if anyone knows a bit about me, they’ll know that I like a little bit of disagreement. It challenges my way of thinking. Benn’s a great example of this. If you go through some of my posts and see some of the comments he’s left – he challenges me to think harder all the time. Benn made a comment about feeling “like a proud father” once about me and I can tell you, I often feel like a “proud son” to him because of his way of challenging me to constantly think and re-think my opinions, theories, and ideas.

      I learned early on (pre-real estate, during band forum days) that there are times when it’s best to just let someone shout what they have to say and not “counter-attack.” Of course, this was kids trying to out-do each other in insults, not a professional blog such as we have here. This was not an attack, but a thoughtful discussion between two people – very different, but easily could be turned into one, if Bob and I were not willing to discuss.

      As for the compliment, all I can say is a simple “thanks.” You’re a wickedly crafty writer and to hear that from you gives me a boost this morning.

  2. Benn Rosales

    December 2, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I will tell you from experience Matt that one of two things happens to any blogger, 1) you’ll either become absolutely solidified in your own position, or 2) you’ll doubt yourself and your position, both happen to everyone, don’t be fooled. Having said all of that, there is no strategy for dealing with hostility, it’s just hostile, but honest debate, honest questions of fact or position are part of the job, either respond or don’t because at the end of the day, all have said their peace and the greater audience can make up their own mind, they see through motives of attackers, and they can smell bs.

    Bob was voted 2008s most valuable commenter here at AG by writers unanimously because he isn’t biased, just writes what he thinks, but from Bobs own words in private conversations, every comment he leaves is thought over and over before he presses submit. I wish more folks commented like Bob comments, his passion for this business is on sleeve and would gladly give that same sleeve to anyone that needed it. You’re so right in judging his character, and knowing you both you’d be surprised at how much you two are actually alike. I actually think he might be you with 20 years of experience in this biz.

    • Matt Stigliano

      December 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

      Benn – I was actually happy to see someone disagree and disagree with passion. There’s a difference between disagreed just for kicks and disagreeing because you truly believe what you believe. I also think part of your comment is super important:

      …all have said their peace and the greater audience can make up their own mind…

      The “greater audience” is very important to me when it comes to comments. I like to think that the blogs I write and the comments that follow them, because they live on in perpetuity on the internet, may provide insight to someone in the future. Someone might look back at the back and forth comments and think up a new theory, idea, gadget, gizmo, law, rule…you get the picture.

      I was one of those that voted for Bob (after I realized we were supposed to vote for non-contributors). Bob probably has commented more on my posts than anyone else has and I look forward to reading what he has to say. On this particular issue we disagree, but he did give me something to think about.

      Because I used the words “wasting time” and “game” I think I directed the conversation in a certain way. I have been thinking about that post a lot and wonder if I had worded things differently what the conversation would have been like. I don’t think I would have had Bob championing Foursquare as a tool, but I think his comments may have been totally different in nature.

      Perhaps, the title should have been:
      “Foursquare: Possible Real Estate Uses”
      “Foursquare As A Social Connector”
      “Localize Your Foursquare Friends And Open A New Network”

      It would be interesting to go back in time and see…

      Bob is me with 20 years experience? From what I know of Bob, I’ll take that as a huge compliment.

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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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