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Short Sales, Real Estate, and the Sports Metaphor

Are You a Team Player?

hockey and real estateShort sales (and much of real estate, in general) are frequently referred to using sports-type language. I’ve written blog posts about the importance of having quality members on your team. I’ve also written about how every team must have good offensive and defensive members in order to get transactions closed. I’ve even philosophized about how outstanding real estate agents need to be just a strong as hockey player, Wayne Gretsky. You see, Gretzky has been quoted as saying something to the effect of “It isn’t about where the puck is; it’s about where the puck is going to be.”

I’ve used all of these wonderful sports metaphors and analogies and I’m not even a big sports fan! However, in the real estate business and particularly when working short sales, you need to be proactive (not reactive) and you need to be an active participant in the big game.

Frequently we submit our short sale packages via fax and call to follow up every three days for what seems like an eternity. Everyone involved in the process begins to express frustration and is about to throw in the towel. Just about that time, the lien holders finally contact us about the short sale file. There may be a request for updated documentation or there may be a verbal counter offer. The short sale processor at the bank may phone us on Thursday and want a response by Friday at 5:00 p.m. (It’s probable that this request will only occur when the client is out of town or unreachable.)

While all of these types of game-changing moves can be extremely frustrating, I usually just go with the flow and attempt to get the bank everything they need within their requested time frames. I know that I do not want to do anything that will jeopardize my relationship with the short sale negotiator, and I do want to demonstrate good sportsmanship, too.

If you do not demonstrate good sportsmanship, then there is no telling where your short sale file will end up. The property could go to foreclosure; the file could be transferred to another negotiator at the bank, or it could even disappear.

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So, when reasonable requests are made (even with unreasonable time frames), I like to think of these game-changing moves as a way to keep me on my toes. After all, those who exercise and practice their sport regularly will be in great shape and ready to address the next offensive or defensive move that comes their way. Maybe some real estate players will even demonstrate the level of success of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky!

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. Lani Rosales

    April 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I love this analogy, Melissa- I haven’t done short sales myself (because I’m not an agent), but I’ve been around them enough to know that it’s very nuanced just like a sport, as you’ve indicated. My favorite line: “After all, those who exercise and practice their sport regularly will be in great shape and ready to address the next offensive or defensive move that comes their way.”

  2. short sale

    June 16, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I just wanted to say I think both of your posts on short sale are great. They’re easy to understand even for the simplest borrower. Thanks for sharing your expertise……. the way you have describe the short sale with game its creative. My opinion on short sale is an opportunity for homeowners to avoid the devastating consequences of foreclosure.

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