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Flickr - Too Much Noise - Libertinus

The day the earth didn’t stand still.

There was an earthquake near Washington, D.C. this morning – nothing earth shattering, but a bit of surprise for those in the area I would guess. I woke up and saw the news on Twitter, which is where I get a lot of my news in the early part of the day. Twitter has become quite the news source, from breaking news to the latest celebrity gossip to tech talk; if it’s newsworthy in one way or the other, you can probably find it on Twitter.

Of course, I have friends and family in the D.C. area, so I immediately found a tweet that had a link to a news article and checked up on the quake. Once I knew it was a relatively small earthquake (I lived in L.A.) and knew the people I cared for were safe and sound, I went about my daily business. Most mornings, as I shake the sleep from my skull, I sit on my balcony in the cool-ish morning air, have a few cups of coffee, and check through Twitter, Facebook, and read up on any news or blogs that catch my eye. While going through Twitter, the world was abuzz about the earthquake. It seemed everyone wanted to make sure I (and the rest of the world) knew it had happened. With any social network and the connections between Person A and Person B, there will always be some overlap of who knows who, but I got to thinking – is all this news really just noise?

Twitter and the Venn Diagram.

We all know how social networks work…you’re my friend and I am friends with people who are not your friends. Our social networks overlap with me as the common factor. Person A and Person B know each other, but they have non-mutual friends. The Venn diagram is a great way to illustrate these connections. Let’s look at one in its simplest form. Person A is on the left, Person B is on the right – where the two circles intersect is their common bond (A+B). Think of it as their social networks – Person A and Person B both know some mutual friends (where the circles intersect), and the outer reaches of either circle represent those that only one of them knows.

Venn Diagram - A and B

Real life, however, is a little more complex than this. As Realtors®, we surround ourselves with a variety of people in our social media networks; locals, other agents, lenders, title companies, businesses, thought leaders in our industry, tech people, friends, family, online friends, in real life (IRL) friends, etc. Our social networks as a Venn diagram probably looks something more like this:

Real Estate Agent Social Network - Venn Diagram

With all those different intersections of who we know, we are bound to hear some bit of news twice. Well maybe twice isn’t quite true – how about hundreds or thousands of times.

Earthquakes and iPhones.

The earthquake this morning may have prompted me to write this post, but I’ve been thinking about this since the iPhone prototype was discovered in a bar. Days after the news spread, I was still seeing blog posts, tweets, and Facebook wall posts about the new iPhone. The first time I saw a mention of it, being an Apple fan, I read the article. I must have seen thousands of mentions of it in the following days. Too many mentions of it. People who could care less about iPhones were blogging about it, Windows-loyalists were chatting about it, and every Realtor® seemed to want to dissect it. It got to the point where if I saw the word “iPhone” i immediately skipped past the information and moved onto the next piece. Unfortunately, that next piece of information usually had something to do with the iPhone, so as you can imagine, I did a lot of scrolling and skipping for a few days. (Interesting side note: Right now, everyone is talking about the Apple press conference about the iPhone 4’s antenna issue.)

As more and more people join the networks that we’ve created, the frequency of this happening will increase. Will there be a critical mass tipping point at which social media is so full of news noise, that you can’t hear anything else? Will social media just become a endless echo of parroted bits and pieces?

Know your network and quell the cacophony.

Knowing your social networks beyond just a follower status can help save social media’s deafness (do they make hearing aids for that?). Knowing who likes what and who talks about this or that, can help you make decisions on what to pass on to your network and what to keep to yourself. We all like to pass on information – it’s part of our nature (why do you think gossip exists?) – and with social media, it’s the same exact experience, just connected to an amplifier turned to eleven. If the cacophony of noise gets too much, we will just shut it out. In order to protect yourself from being considered part of the news noise, you need to listen.

Look at your social networks, do you know a few tech-geeks? Do you think they would probably report on the iPhone? Do they share breaking iPhone news all the time? Does your grandmother in Pasadena love to read about iPhones, because she just bought one? Instead of just parroting the information from your tech-geek friends so that grandma can keep up with the latest and greatest, why not introduce your über-hip grandma to the nerds? Give her a new fountain source to drink from – everything does not have to come from your mouth. Now grandma’s friends might overhear something she said to your buddy Lewis Skolnick and perhaps they will begin expanding their network outside of the knitting circle. The opportunity for being the connector is built-in to social media.

This is not to say that there is never a time to share the latest news, just because someone else already sent it out. Instead, it is a way to look at what you’re sharing and with who. Knowing those circles and what and who they consist of can change what you say to them – we don’t want to exclude them from the other circles and our conversations, but they have specific interests that we can and should focus on. We should know who the (to borrow a phrase from real estate) local experts are. In real estate we refer to geography, but local in this case is more about interests and experience than physical locality.

Spread the news, but don’t spread yesterday’s news – it only makes you slightly more irrelevant to your followers each time you do it.

PS No mention of Venn diagrams can go without also mentioning Eddie Izzard’s segment about Venn as a child from his Circles Tour (be warned, there is some strong language in this clip).

photo courtesy of Libertinus

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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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Matthew Hardy

    July 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    The internet has already become an “endless echo of parroted bits and pieces” and is getting boring and predictable. I’ve always loved to sit for hours in the library (now Barnes & Noble), but am not there for social reasons. The internet is one hellava research tool but gets tiresome for it’s ‘conversation’ (an odd word when no one is actually speaking). I have never before in my life quoted the Artist Formally or Currently or May In The Future be Known as ‘Prince’, but his comment “the internet is over” might be insightful and prescient.

    A line from a South Park song may be apt here: “You’ve got to do what you want to do, as long as what you want to do, is what everybody wants you to.”

    That Venn. He was a funny guy.

  2. Liz Benitez

    July 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    “I have never before in my life quoted the Artist Formally or Currently or May In The Future be Known as ‘Prince’, but his comment “the internet is over” might be insightful and prescient.”

    I’m not sure the internet will ever be over. It is becoming more and more to “go to” for practically anything, but maybe we can say the social life online might become over rated and eventually null and void. You make great points Matt about knowing your network but unless my friend does the same and there friends do the same things wont change.

    Maybe it is just a new learning curve. We had to learn how to IM then how to FB now its tweeting. I am currently and learning how to blog. How am I doin 😉 Eventually people will learn how to be specific with there info. In the mean time we need virtual ear plugs.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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