Connect with us


What If You Died?

– Consult a lawyer about what steps need to be taken to transfer ownership of accounts – domain hosting isn’t free, and the hosting company likely won’t take your spouse’s or friend’s word that you really, really wanted them to take over. … As morbid as this sounds, it’s nothing compared to the conversations my wife and I have had about our respective wills (done) or our life insurance guy’s recommendation that we get life insurance for our kids (nope).



NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Death of Socrates

Photo Courtesy

Life and death happen, often unexpectedly.

For many of us, our blogs are valuable records tracking various trends, market data, – it would be a shame to allow such history to be relegated to the Google cache or the Internet Archive.

Give your passwords, logins, networks to someone else and give them instructions on what you want them to do.

– Who will tell your readers that you have died?

– Should it be maintained? By whom?

– Sold? To whom? How?

– Allowed to expire?

When should the announcement be written and posted? Who should do it?

Consider writing your (blog’s) obituary – what do you hope you have accomplished?

– Consult a lawyer about what steps need to be taken to transfer ownership of accounts – domain hosting isn’t free, and the hosting company likely won’t take your spouse’s or friend’s word that you really, really wanted them to take over.

– Develop a system for systematically syncing passwords, addresses, etc to a central, shared location that your significant other and/or trusted friend can access. Put what you want done in writing. Make sure that person understand what they will be doing – how to login/post.

As morbid as this sounds, it’s nothing compared to the conversations my wife and I have had about our respective wills (done) or our life insurance guy’s recommendation that we get life insurance for our kids (nope). Ultimately, it’s just a blog, but I really wouldn’t want four years of my life to be thrown away.

Now, off to develop a blog succession plan for myself …

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

Continue Reading


  1. Poppy Dinsey

    December 29, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I’ve often thought about this Jim…and have told loved ones that I’d want them to let the interwebs know of my demise.

    When I’ve lost friends over recent years, it’s always been some comfort to see their Facebook profile become a communal place for people to write messages. Strangely enough, the day one of my friends was killed in a car accident his Facebook status was ‘What’s the meaning of life – exactly?’. Months later that’s still his Facebook status and I guess it will be forever unless FB close his profile. No doubt when I leave this earth my most recent tweet/status update/photo on flickr will be something really stupid and embarassing!

    It may be weird to think about, but it’s definitely worth thinking about 🙂

  2. Ines

    December 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Wow Jim! contemplating death lately?? it’s something we cannot avoid, and a topic we should all think about.

    On another note though, I was talking to Jeff Turner a couple of days ago about what our last words and records would be if we did die suddenly. Prompted by Bill Lublin sharing the lovely Sheila’s twitter stream (@Pinky379) – it’s something for us to think about.

    Happy New Year a bit early, my friend.

  3. Paula Henry

    December 29, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    JIm – I have never thought about it personally,and should have. I’ve had two friends from AR who passed away, one very suddenly and his work stopped. NO word from his family – they probably didn’t even have access to his accounts.

    His work is still there for all of us, but if it had not been an AR account – it would have vanished with the expiration of his domain name.

    Thought provoking for the rest of us!

  4. Jim Gatos

    December 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    It’s too morbid for me to think that someone else will be continuing my blog if I were to die, so I think I’d rather allow my blog to go to internetarchives heaven or google heaven, although I don’t know what Typepad would do if all of the sudden my account were to go unpaid. Maybe I should ask them…

    However, after careful consideration and thought, I’ve come across the only viable solution I can think of.. It may be the only answer for some of you folks, too..

    The answer is simple; I’m just NEVER going to die!

    Have a BIG day!


  5. Brian Block

    December 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Interesting Jim… I hadn’t really thought about this subject, but perhaps I will. After all we don’t want to leave our readers hanging, do we? A final blog post to at least tie up loose ends would seem to be appropriate.

  6. Steve Simon

    December 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I bet the vast majority of those that blog haven’t given this a thought; I know I didn’t and Lord knows the way I abused my body I certainly shouldn’t plan on being aroung forever:)
    I’ll have to give this some thought!

  7. Charles McDonald

    December 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    All my passwords, addresses, etc. will be sent directly to “Jim Duncan” by my “closing” Attorney!

  8. Craig Barrett

    December 29, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Interesting, after all we are running small businesses and most of us alone. Without clear instructions, policy, and procedure, continuity of operations will cease immediately.

  9. teresa boardman

    December 30, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Funny I have thought this all through and have a plan on how to sell the blog if and when I leave the business. It is a business asset and can be sold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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!

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!