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If you burn all of your bridges, you will have no way out of the castle

Careful What You Say and Do

short saleThere is a veteran agent in my office who has a heart of gold, but who is also wildly opinionated when it comes to topics and matters that are important to him. As he was leaving the office yesterday, I advised him not to “burn all of his bridges” as he might have a tough time getting out of the castle.

In the Medieval Period (as you may recall), castles had moats and drawbridges. In fact many cities and kingdom that were abutted by water had entry and exit bridges as well. In those days, if the bridge was broken or burnt, there would be absolutely no way to exit the kingdom.

Nowadays when we say “don’t burn your bridges”, we advise not to do anything or say anything that would harm a relationship, particularly one that would need to be leveraged in the future.

This advice holds true for real estate, and most especially for short sales.

Short sales are tough, challenging, and time consuming. Waiting on hold for hours on end just to learn that a fax was not received or that the office is closed for the day due to a snow storm might make you want to pull your hair out. But, no matter what you are thinking when you are speaking with the mortgage lender at the bank, there is absolutely no reason to get angry, to yell, to scream, to threaten, or to curse. While all of these behaviors may make you feel good for a moment or two, they will do nothing to make a positive impact on the individual that is on the other side of the phone conversation.

Here’s a tip: If you want your short sale to go to the bottom of the pile, yell at the negotiator.

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Here’s a much better tactic: When the negotiator calls you with a counter offer and asks you to make a few changes to the HUD-1 and send it to her right away, do it! The file is at the top of this person’s desk right now. If you can get them what they need right away, you can probably get a short sale approval very quickly. Plus, you will have the added bonus of showing the negotiator that you are a professional and a successful closer—someone that the bank will want to work with over and over and over again.

Here’s the best tactic when you are having trouble with a future short sale at the same bank: Contact the negotiator you used on the previous transaction. You know… the one who loves you because you are so easy to work with and always close on time. Thank him or her again for all of their support and ask if they could possibly help you with x or y problem that you are currently having on your new short sale.

Think about this: the next time you want to kick and scream, remember that you have other options and that you do not want to burn your bridges—because you actually might want to exit the castle and close another short sale sometime in the future!

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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. Benn Rosales

    April 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Agents do this all the time, throw weight around where they have no capital or credibility, where over the phone it’s easy to dismiss your pampas arrogant ass… With all of the talk about how awful banks are with short sales, I can only imagine the attitudes people begin the process with. I think you might have been to nice in this article, you and I both know how agents who want their way behave…

  2. Erica Ramus

    April 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    So true! I am ashamed to admit I have kicked and screamed. I try to limit it, though, and have gotten much better over the years. You never know when you’ll need to work with that person again.

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