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Will You Be My Friend? NO !



Why, oh Why?

Some lessons are hard to learn. Some take more than one time for me to learn them. Am I the only one? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. But hopefully because I’m willing to dig in, confess, and share – it’ll save someone a little bit of turmoil.

The Friendship Rule

The past week has been one of those rides… you wonder if you are at the top of the mountain you were climbing – or at the bottom of the deep, dark pit. I met my sellers almost a year ago. It was a bit of a non-typical listing appointment, but I go with the flow and have learned that my listing presentation will not fit everyone, so sometimes at the last minute I have to switch gears. We talked. We talked about the family, future plans, and real estate. Plans were underway to look for a new home and sell the current one.

After some fun times looking at houses with Mrs. Buyer she mentioned she would love to “go out” sometime. “I can tell we are going to be great friends.” I’ve been here before. I knew what I had to do, and it isn’t ever comfortable, “Mrs. Buyer, please don’t take this personally, it isn’t. But if I am not friends first, I don’t mix business & personal relationships.” It is very easy to become friends, and I do have some good friends that I’ve met as a result of Real Estate transactions. Most clients even those I haven’t talked to in a couple of years, would most likely “hug” upon seeing each other again. (Go ahead – cringe- but it’s true.) My rule is… I will not work on making a personal friendship when a business relationship is in progress. Before or after the transaction is complete – let’s go!

I Broke my Rule

It’s not the first time and won’t be the last time. During one of the deep, dark pit times of the week, I lost my business and professional focus. I was talking it out with a good friend of mine who said, “Take this and learn. What mistake did you make? What can you do better next time?” I didn’t have to think hard. “I became emotionally involved in the transaction.” I care about Mr. and Mrs. and the Kids. No, it’s not “the deal” part of the deal that I’m focused on. It’s selling the house they need to sell. I know there are some agents who can completely relate; others would roll their eyes, say get out of that listing and move on. I have no doubt I have done more than most agents would do to market the home. It has google juice bursting out of the windows. My personal belongings were there to brighten it up a little. Those details aren’t important – but there are lots of those extra mile things that I did for them.

Next Time?

My lesson for me is that I have to learn how to be sympathetic without being empathic in situations. That is the bottom line. There is a time for consoling friendships and a time for professional real estate advice. No tears need to be shed. Keep it business focused. Keep it professional.

Learn from my mistake. Thank you in advance for the “you need to reduce the price” comments. It’s not really what the post is about, but I’m sure you’re thinking it 🙂

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  1. Mark Eibner

    April 23, 2009 at 3:17 am

    we’re at it again Will You Be My Friend? NO !: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this ..

  2. sheilabragg

    April 23, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Will You Be My Friend? NO !: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that the ShamWow g..

  3. Real Estate Feeds

    April 23, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Will You Be My Friend? NO !: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that the ShamWow g..

  4. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC

    April 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Yeah, it’s tough working with clients that you really like as people. Especially since the new conventional teachings are “it’s all about the ‘relationship'”.

    Heck, forget the “let’s go out”. What about when they start to “friend” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter? What happens when they stumble across my Active Rain rants about “the client who…[fill in the blank]”.

  5. Cheryl Allin

    April 23, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Will You Be My Friend? NO ! #feedly [great read about biz/client relationships]

  6. Matt Thomson

    April 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I’ve not found the same to be true for me personally. For me, real estate is not my life (not saying it is for you either, I just can’t phrase it any better). I’m not going to say no to a friendship so I can get my job done. Friends are more important to me. I get that you can hurt friendships if business goes sour, but I haven’t had this happen…yet.
    I listed a very good friends’ house and couldn’t get it sold. They re-listed with somebody else who promptly got it sold…for $65k less than what we had it listed for.
    Lesson learned. I should have listed it at my professional opinion, and not their desires. Things were awkward for a day or two, and we’re still good friends.
    I don’t make friends with all my clients (I don’t like them all), but I certainly don’t refuse friendships to stay professional.
    Just a different way of doing things…works for some, not for others.

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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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