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Tick Tock…Waiting Can Be Productive



Standing In Line


Does anyone know how many minutes, months or years we spend waiting?

•    We wait in line at doctors office.
•    We wait for clients to show up.
•    We wait for offers to be faxed that we thought were coming?
•    We wait for appraisals to come in.
•    We wait for Short Sales to be approved. (oh how we wait….)

Fact of the matter is we do a lot of waiting. Obviously we can’t get those minutes or hours back, but we can use the time to be productive. (or just relax and enjoy the quiet.)

Become an Expert at Using Waiting Time

The first thing to do is have a good attitude when we our waiting. View “waiting time” as a gift or unexpected opportunity to get something  done to increase your productivity.

Decide before hand what types of tasks you want to do or complete while waiting.

1) Add phone numbers to your cell phone address book.
2) Create a grocery list.
3) Listen to a self-development course on your iPod. I am a  big fan of Jack Canfield.
4) Do a little social networking on Facebook or twitter.
5) Carry a book in your car and pick it up and read a few chapters.
6) Catch on your RSS feeds.
7) Call a past client
8) Call your mother

Let “waiting time” be your new best friend.

One thing to consider is which tasks you have been putting off. Gaps in time can become the time we use to do those things that find there way on the back burner at the end of the day. You know the things that don’t get marked off at the end of the day.

Regardless, of what you do during the lull, having a plan can keep the anxiety down. Most Type A personalities have a difficult time waiting. Patience is not our virtue.

So what are you waiting for?

Photo Credit

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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  1. Jill Wente

    October 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    My iphone has become my best to turn those potential non-productive times to productive times. I listen to podcasts instead of the radio when I am driving to meet a client or waiting on a client. I can easily respond to email and read some of my RSS feeds. Plus I can make appointments and it synchs up with my Microsoft Outlook calendar.

  2. Matthew Hardy

    October 2, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I like this Eckhart Tolle quote:

    “Give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting… snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything. So next time somebody says, “sorry to have kept you waiting,” you can reply, “that’s all right, I wasn’t waiting. I was just standing here enjoying myslef – in joy in my self.”

    – from Practicing the Power of Now

    Also, love your idea of audiobooks on iPod – awesome way to learn.

  3. Lani Rosales

    October 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Missy, I am a ridiculously impatient person but you would never know it because I’m still chipper on the outside. On the inside I’m raging like a drunk chick who just got her purse stolen. SO, what I do is (1) breathe (2) reorganize my to do list. I’m a big list maker and I learn and remember kinesthetically, so I have to write everything down. When I’m waiting somewhere and have the ability to, I re-write my lists and it gives me a sense of control and order.

    My other activity and a more common one for me is praying and saying the Rosary.

  4. Brian Block

    October 2, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Jill beat me to it in her comment, but the iPhone has made waiting infinitely better — more fun and more productive at the same time.

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Sorry for not responding quicker been out and about all day…

    Jill and Brian sounds like a need a I need an IPhone. Although I do check emails on my BB and Twitter.

    Matthew that is a really cool statement. Never thought about that.

    Lani, I am low on patience too, always on time and would have 5 kids ready for church, bathed and in the car before my 1 husband would get ready.
    I know patience is virtue….I find carrying a book in my car really makes the time go fast, if I am waiting.

  6. Lesley Lambert

    October 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I, too, use my iPod as a wait time filler. That and twitter on the blackberry!

  7. Matt Stigliano

    October 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Missy – I hate waiting too. Especially when what you’re waiting for ties into how the rest of the day pans out. We all know how one piece of paper can change your entire day in real estate. I find that I need to fill those gaps, because the minute I don’t and say “it’ll just be a moment before that fax arrives, I’ll just relax a bit” – that’s the day the fax never comes. I agree with the others about the iPhone. I used my Blackberry in much the same way, but there’s something about the iPhone that makes me use it more productively. Maybe it’s just because I like to look cool using one.

  8. Rob McCance

    October 3, 2009 at 10:20 am


    Good advise.

    Personally, I enjoy some “wait states” and will try to predict them and take along my small laptop, or my Website Magazine, or the lame Realtor Magazine, or some recently printed long articles off the web.

    If all else fails, I’ve got the blackberry and I never delete my inbox so I can scroll waayy back and find someone to swap emails with, or call, or whatever.

    So waiting is not all bad, unless I’m about to late for something else.


  9. Sandra Matson

    October 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm


    Great post! I learned long ago to take advantage of waiting. If sitting in traffic, I have educational or self-help CD’s. When waiting between appointments, I have a book. And most recently I broke down and got a BB. I catch up on news, emails, etc. I also have audio books on my BB. If I am at an open house, I bring work just in case it is a slow day.

    I hate to wait but I have learned long ago to be prepared so for me waiting is an opportunity to do something enjoyable and/or productive.


  10. Bruce Dietz

    October 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Missy,

    Always good to talk to another KW family member!

    Good tips on ways to fill the dead space in the day. I use my Blackberry to check up on emails, return calls and run errands for my awesome, but way too busy, working wife.

  11. Paula Henry

    October 6, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Missy – Great advice! I have little patience for waiting, but am patiently waiting for someone besides AT&T to carry the iphone. Til then, my BB keeps me connected when I do have to wait.

    Sending out a few emails or making contact with someone makes the time you are waiting seem to pass more quickly.

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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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