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Bark and scream have no place in short sale negotiations

How to Avoid Short Sale Trouble

Have you ever seen The Music Man? If so, than you may remember the lyrics “Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City.” Now, if I remember correctly, the trouble in River City referred to the fact that folks were actually playing pool, this behavior (so the story goes) leads you down a slippery slope.

Well, there are some people out there who always make trouble, whether it is in River City or elsewhere. There are some individuals who are combative and want to get their way. They argue until they are blue in the face. You know who they are; perhaps you are even one of them.

Since I started doing my short sale thing, I’ve spoken to more folks than ever before. I have spoken to thousands of real estate agents across the nation. I have also spoken with hundreds (maybe thousands) of bank short sale processors and customer service representatives, managers, and presidents. Each and every individual has a unique personality. When involved in these conversations with mortgage lenders and even with real estate agents, I am always working to achieve a goal. Usually I want to get my way in short sale negotiation, but sometimes I just want to convey a point.

Are you a verb?

I realized the other day that in order to be successful in dealings with others, you need to be a prepositional phrase and not a verb. (Caveat: Remember that I am a former English teacher. Please do not start snoozing; keep reading and hear me out!)

If you vaguely remember high school, you may remember that teachers taught us that a prepositional phrase is “Anything a rabbit can do to a hill” or “Anything an airplane can do to a cloud.” So, words such as above, around, below, over, under, and through are prepositional phrases. Thus, in my dealings with the lien holders on these short sales, sometimes I need to figure out how to be like a prepositional phrase: how to strategize to make it over that hill or around that cloud.

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Now, if you vaguely remember elementary school, you probably know that a verb is an action word: bark, yell, scream, rant, annoy. When working on short sales and negotiating with lien holders, you can also behave like a verb. You can bark, yell, scream, rant and annoy. But, I can tell you right now that if you behave in this manner you will be significantly less successful in your negotiations, and you may burn a few bridges along the way.

So, when negotiating short sales, try not to make trouble in River City. Instead, work to meet your goals more like a prepositional phrase than like a verb.

Lastly, do not ever take anything personally. Be objective and professional. This is a business transaction for you, for your sellers, for your buyers, and for the bank. The bank does not care about everyone’s drama. So, leave that with your verbs at the door!

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Written By

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.



  1. Manny

    June 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I strongly agree! Everyone: agents, negotiators, sellers and buyers appreciate being treated with respect and professionalism. I have been very successful in dealing with lenders for short sales and loan mods.
    The best approach is always treat people as you would want to be treated!

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