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Call Them What You Want, But You Better Get One



Mentor, coach, friend, confidante, accountability partner, or buddy. I don’t care.

When I first started in real estate there was a lot of talk of mentoring and getting experienced agents in your offices that would let you tag along with them so you could learn more, learn better, and learn faster. Consistently I heard that taking the licensing test wasn’t going to get you anywhere – learning from those with experience would. I got the concept, but I wasn’t one for mentoring or coaching I thought. So I never really did it. I didn’t approach an agent and say, “Hey, can you teach me? Will you be my mentor?” I just sort of dove in and got started.

What I didn’t realize until the other day, was that I had all of this and more. Let’s forget about the online friends and helping hands that I have come across since becoming an agent (this group here alone could all be mentioned in my acceptance speech at the Oscars). Let’s pretend not a single one of you taught me anything. Let’s talk about my office and the real face to face interaction between myself and other agents.

Meet Reggie, my all around go to guy.

Reggie Hock has been at our office for a long time. He worked with my broker back when he ran a RE/Max franchise. They go way back. When I first started, I was intimidated by Reggie. He’s a top agent at our company, he knows everything it seems, and he’s got a laugh that fills a room. Him and I said hello here and there, but overtime, we both began to talk more and more. I think he was encouraged to talk to me as I seemed to be in real estate for the long haul (since I joined we watched many people come and go). The more Reggie and I got to know each other, the more we talked. We clicked and we soon found ourselves stopping for a talk most days when we were in the office.

Reggie and I found we had some things in common, although for different reasons. He was in the Navy on a submarine. I was in a rock band on a tour bus (a submarine on land). We both had our moments of rebellion and carousing in our youth. We both love a good joke. As we grew to know each other, I began to ask real estate questions. What do I write in section x of this form? If an agent sends an offer with this, how do I negotiate to this? Where do I find out such and such information when I can’t find it in the MLS? You know the questions, you’ve wondered them yourself. Reggie knew the answers and had all sorts of tip and advice. He took my calls no matter how late it was and even stopped by my office to encourage me through any successes or setbacks.

I never thought of Reggie as my mentor. I thought of him as the guy I have a good relationship with in my office. What’s the difference? None really. Our relationship as friends and agents is the same. We help each other out. We encourage each other. We celebrate our successes. He made me write my goals out on huge sheets of paper…they’re hanging on the walls of my office and I can’t miss them each and every morning. Reggie drives me to be a better agent and I hope I provide the same for him in some small way. No matter what I call him; he is my mentor, coach, friend, confidante, accountability partner, and buddy. The benefit I receive is incredible and its so effortless, I encourage every new agent to build a relationship like it in their own office. If you can’t build it in your office, build it with another agent you’ve met here, from another company, on Twitter, or at ActiveRain. Just build it. No excuses. Don’t think of someone who tells you what to do (what I thought of mentors), but as someone who will help you come to the right decisions. Reggie doesn’t always give me the answers – sometimes he makes me work on them, but he’s there to give his opinion on my results.

I’ve had a busy weekend.

This week, I helped my out-of-town client buy a new home. It was great fun and the client is awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better situation and its been an enjoyable experience all around. Yesterday, my phone rang and I saw it was Reggie. He was wondering if I was okay. He hadn’t seen me in the office, so he was worried I was sick or even worse, leaving real estate. You can’t get that kind of concern from someone you don’t have that one-on-one relationship with. When I told him what was going on, he got excited for me and started asking me a million questions – did you do this, did you remember that, what did they say about this…he wanted to be sure my back was covered in the transaction. He wanted my client to get the best service. He gave me advice for follow up to ensure the client always thought of me when they heard the words “real estate.” He makes no money from this, but does it because we have that friendship, that mentorship, that business relationship. He wants me to succeed and is willing to take his time to help make that happen.

If you don’t have a Reggie, go get one. You’ll thank me later. And for you more experienced AgentGenius readers, please, take a moment to help someone new out – you’ll appreciate it and your new agent buddy will too.

photo courtesy of moonjazz

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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. Chuck G

    February 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm


    That is simply THE most valuable (and inspirational) post that I have read on AG yet this year…and I’ve read some darn good ones.

    You’re lucky you have Reggie. Be sure you bring something unique that he’ll value to this relationship, and you’ll have a friend for life.


  2. Tammy - Austincentric

    February 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I am still searching for that special someone…. but your Reggie sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, most everyone in my office prefers their home office so I need to really explore forging relationships through social media.

    I might also add, it’s nice if you can partner with a fellow agent to take turns fielding customers while the other is away on a much needed vacay.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    February 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Chuck – Wow, that’s quite a compliment. Thanks. I was pretty excited when Reggie called me the other day to check in on me and it really made me think about how lucky I am to have someone who is there to help guide me and help me when I’m stuck. New agents are thrust into a world full of people who seem to know everything (some just seem it, some actually do) and in many ways it can be really intimidating. I’ve seen a lot of agents come and go this past year, so I wondered how many of them could have been helped by having that mentorship – whether that’s what you call it or not.

    Tammy – Social media has brought me many of those same sort of relationships. Take AgentGenius for example. I’ve called on many of the writers and commentors at different times to ask for feedback, their thoughts, or just for a friendly chat. Twitter too. I see social media as a two-sided tool. One for the business aspect of meeting new people and making new contacts. The other side? Think of it as the world’s largest real estate university. Of course laws vary from place to place, but there’s so many ideas and concepts out there that apply to all of us – and by meeting all these people who have different levels of experience and different ideas on how to shape the business, you can’t help but pick up a few great ideas here and there.

  4. Missy Caulk

    February 12, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Everyone needs a Reggie or two in their lives, young or old. Been in the business a few days or a multitude of years.

    Cool you found one early.

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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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