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Different Types of Real Estate Teams and How to Grow Them



Real Estate TEAMS

teamThere are all kinds of teams in real estate. I don’t have to go into what is a team so I will make it simple. Basically, a team is any two or more people working together with the same vision and goals to accomplish more than they can accomplish alone.

It doesn’t matter what kind of team you have the principals and dynamics for managing a team are the same. Teams come in all shapes and sizes.

The First Principal

The first question a REALTOR must ask is… “can I do it all?”

Most everyone starts off in real estate being a solo agent, you do everything from standing at the copy machine, taking photos, hammering signs in the ground, setting up the marketing, calling the leads, showing houses, attending inspections, doing CMA’s. We do this because we are just starting out and it is manageable with one or two clients.

There comes a time when you have many clients and you wake up and say, “No, I can’t do it all.” Time is money and in order to grow your business, and do the moneymaking activities you have to reach out and get help. (Or not have a life)

When I first started in Real Estate, I drew a graph. It was a graph of where I was (all my roles) and where I knew I eventually wanted to be. In the beginning my name was in every circle.

At the top was CEO, with spokes coming down in three areas:

  1. Marketing
  2. Administrative
  3. Physical

Then after each major category I had more spokes with a job description of each. This is not hard it is just a clear way to organize what you do every day in categories with the job descriptions in each.

At the beginning your name will be in every circle and every job description.


The Vision

A vision is not a goal; it is a dream of how you see your life. One of my favorite quotes in the Bible is “Without a vision, my people perish.”

Before you hire you need to ask yourself, “What is my vision?” If you are standing at a copy machine, instead of attending your children’s little league game, or spending time with your family it is time to add a mini-me.

Admit you can’t do it all and take your business to the next level without sacrificing a part of your life that is not work related. As a mother of 5 children, I knew I did not have those five children to not be a part of their lives and cheer them on in their accomplishments.

Next Posts

The next few weeks I am going to attempt to write on a few things that I have learned over the last 15 years of growing a team. I added my first team member, an Assistant 17 months into my Real Estate career.

Some of the topics I am going to cover are: Who and When to Hire, Accountability, One Bad Apple, Retention or the Revolving Door, Team Commission Splits, A Good Team Member Pays for Itself, the DISC Tests, How to Fire, Dictator or Team Leader, and A Journey and not a Destination.

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. Erion Shehaj

    March 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm


    I am really looking forward to this series. The dynamics of running and growing a team are something I struggle with – so to have someone of your experience explain it absolutely rocks.

  2. Jonathan Benya

    March 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Can’t wait to see more in the series!

  3. Andrea Ballesteros

    March 18, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I am so excited to have found your blog. I am growing my team, expecting my first child and trying to envision how it is all going to work. Yikes…so exciting.

  4. Cathy M Kopicz

    July 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I am trying to build a team. I just recently hired my third admin asst – after firing nimber 2 –
    It is very frustrating to find the right employees and buyer agents. In addition my company is not being as suppportive as I would liket hem to be –

    I am a top producer and work with foreclosures. I am looking foreard to your tips.

  5. Don Groff

    July 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Enjoyed this article Missy. Looking forward to the upcoming installments.

    Thanks for sharing.

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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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