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Becoming Super, One Click At A Time



housechicken? superchick?

I picked up my mail at the office the other day and discovered I had won the "gigabyte" award.  I must’ve missed the office meeting where they handed out the certificate, but clearly, my technical skills had been unveiled to the rest of the office.  I went in for mail and walked out 3 hours later, having diagnosed several viruses and fixed several other small issues for folks on their laptops.

All the requests start the same way: "I hear you’re, like, the super tech person…"  They just go downhill from there:

"And then you clicked on what?"
"Why did you click that?"
"NO, let’s not click that again…"
"Please stop clicking that. Yes, I see it keeps popping up."

You put the same person in front of a blog dashboard or a Flickr page and all of a sudden, it’s like the mouse is a foreign object.  Click?  What’s a click?

I’m not a technical super hero.  I figured it all out bit by bit, in the same way.  By clicking on things and seeing what happens.  Granted, I’ve been at it a while.  But if you’re afraid to explore or to play, then there’s no moving forward.

So how do you overcome the fear of the click and move into the playworld, where exploring and clicking around is fun?  Where it’s okay to explore, to succeed and to fail, and to generally discover that nearly anything is possible, if you eventually click on the right stuff?

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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  1. Loren Nason

    March 5, 2009 at 10:21 pm


    Love that video

    If I acted like that I wouldn’t have any customers 🙂

    Got a call last friday. “My computer is frozen, I can’t login”. So I drive 30 miles to customers office to fix problem. 30 seconds of diagnosis and i found the problem.

    Wait for it…..

    The mouse button was broken so they couldn’t click on their name to login

  2. Jim Duncan

    March 6, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Worth the read if only for the MOVE reference. I mentioned that video the other day in a discussion.

    There’s no need to be fearful of tech, just aware of some of its consequences.

    I was the “tech guy” for years, and always enjoyed helping people, but … 🙂

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    March 6, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    As the real estate world move further and faster toward being completely encompassed with technology, I’m afraid that we’re going to lose some agents who have wisdom and good hearts, because they can’t or won’t overcome their fear of the computer. This is NOT an age related issues, either. we’ve got more than a few folks who just won’t…. Well, you know.

    As an instructor I feel useless to these folks. There’s very little I can do if they won’t take the first steps.

  4. Mariana Wagner

    March 6, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    There is a difference between tech-savvy and internet savvy. I am not very tech-savvy, but I am internet-savvy.

    Would that be called Soft-Tech?

  5. ines

    March 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    MOOOVE!! 😀 …for the record…I don’t do AOL

  6. Vicki Moore

    March 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I was really unhappy when the most techish person I knew told me to figure it out for myself – “You’ll understand it better.” Poop! I wanted someone to just give me the answer. Hopefully he’s not looking when I say: He was right.

  7. Teri Lussier

    May 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    >So how do you overcome the fear of the click and move into the playworld, where exploring and clicking around is fun?

    Yes? How? I’m still waiting for the answer…

  8. Loren Nason

    May 23, 2009 at 9:31 pm


    Overcoming the fear of clicking around to learn is hard for some people. Depending on what it is you are trying to learn the fear could be unwarranted to valid.

    If you are playing around inside your hosting control panel you need to be more careful on what you click on because you could do damage by say changing DNS settings or deleting a database.

    If you are inside of facebook the most damage you could do is … nothing. Well you could delete your account, but I think the chances of that would be slim.

    If you are trying to learn web design such as changing the look of your blog, the best thing to do would be to setup a 2nd test blog to mess around with. That way if you make a mistake and break it then it doesn’t matter.

    Another thing to do is take your question to Google and learn your answer. Read multiple websites about the solution and then try out the solution.

    For some it comes naturally. I was a born tinkerer and had a wrench in my hand. I was a mechanic before I got into computers 15 years ago and I was self taught with some schooling. I didn’t have time to wait for someone to tell me how to do something, so I just figured it out on my own.

    Shameless self promotion:

    If all the above still leaves you with some fear you can always schedule a personal coaching session with me.

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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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