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Does Accountability Work?




The biggest buzz word in coaching is accountability. Whether it’s in-house or the kind you pay a thousand dollars a month for, they’re shouting: YOU NEED ACCOUNTABILITY. But does it work?

Can You Hear Me Now?

When I was a kid it worked. Didn’t do my homework – got grounded. Didn’t do my chores – got grounded. But now that I’m an adult, does telling me I have to send a check to someone I hate force me to keep my commitment?

I committed to it but didn’t do it. Is that pain enough? Is not getting the win enough?

Do higher stakes equal more commitment? If you lose out on the gain you would have made, is that enough pain?

Punishment and peer pressure is not the way to get results from me. What about you? What works?

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate

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  1. Dan Connolly

    July 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Well looking at accounts receivable usually does it for me. I have never been a big one for coaching
    etc. Personal goals are a pretty good motivator for me.

    I think if you feel pain by not getting some gain you should or would have gained, you probably aren’t really cut out for this business. I don’t feel any sense of loss over listings that don’t sell or buyers who don’t buy, for me it just goes with the territory…. that is why it is important to generate a lot of business leads.

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    July 21, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Dan took the words out of my mouth. If the bank account gets skinny, the incentive to try something different goes up, independent of whether there’s a whip involved or not. So no, I don’t think that peer accountability works regarding real estate sales. If you have a broker who holds you accountable and you don’t perform, they may reprimand you, support you, or whatever but if it’s not to your liking, you’re probably going to switch brokers instead considering yourself “accountable.”

  3. Eric Blackwell

    July 21, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I think at the end of the day it is each of our responsibility to motivate and hold ourselves accountable. While I LOVE teaching SEO to REALTORS and others, and that DRIVES me….the bank account is a solid motivator…as is a picture on my desk of 4 kids and a wife.

    I’d agree with Dan about the requirements for this business.

  4. Paula Henry

    July 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    A peer coach told me once, ” Everyone wants the freedom, flexibility and untold wealth real estate offers; the problem is too many take advantage of the freedom and flexibility to obtain untold wealth.” That same freedom and flexibility mentality will keep many from meeting their goals, because they need to buckle down and accept responsibility for where they are in their career.

    Do we need coaches or accountability? – not neccessarily Does it help? – It depends on the person. Punishment and peer pressure doesn’t work for me either. I do like having someone who has been where I am helping me make good decisions. Then, it’s up to me to make it happen.

  5. Vance Shutes

    July 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm


    I recall one of Covey’s seven habits, to wit: Begin with the end in mind. When you do so, you are accountable to yourself, to accomplish what you have in mind. Ultimately, to be accountable is to be self-disciplined, a worth end by itself.

    I’ve been down the coaches path, and all they did was anger me. I don’t work well when I’m angry. I work well when I have a clear picture of the end in mind. Couple that with the courage to pursue what you have in mind, and you have an unstoppable force.

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    July 21, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    No coaching accountability doesn’t work. At the end of the day, the coach is still an employee of the agent. It’s as well with Brokers now-a-days, the Brokers are trying to hard to out do one another in recruitment that they’ve allowed the inmates to take over the insane asylum.

    Brokers and Associations provide countless tools, services and educational offerings and the all the agent needs to do is show up…. yet only 20% or so do.

    I can educate agents all day, but I refuse to try and hold them accountable. When I was managing it was my job; now I have the options on concentrating on those who wish to make real estate a career and are motivated by professionalism and eagerness to provide good services to their clients.

  7. Brad Nix

    July 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    This is what makes AG so great! Just this morning I was approached by a potential new recruit to Maxsell and one of the questions was “Do you provide accountability for your agents?” My answer was honest, I have never hired an agent who needed me to hold them accountable.

  8. Chuck G

    July 22, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Whenever it was in our lives that we decided to become a Realtor — whether it was the first job, or a career change like I did — at that moment, we made a clear and conscious decision to be our OWN bosses… By definition, that means you are accountable to yourself for your business success. Your broker isn’t your boss — YOU are your boss. Being able to chart my path to success (still in progress, by the way!) and being 100% in charge of that path (accountability) is one of the most gratifying things I have ever done in 20+ years of professional sales.

    Does that mean I can’t learn from others along the way? Absolutely not. But if an agent is in the position that they need an “accountability coach,” they have chosen the wrong profession, and should probably go back to the corporate world where they have a boss who will tell them what to do and exactly how to do it…been there, done that, thank you.

    I’m fortunate enough to have a broker whose only “accountability” requirement is to uphold the reputation of the firm by being a good person and an ethical agent. The rest of it is up to me…..and I couldn’t be happier about that.

    Great topic, Vicki!

  9. Matt Stigliano

    July 22, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Bank account statements work. Encouragement of those I admire or respect works. My own excitement of figuring out something that is doing well for me works.

    Paying someone to tell me what I should already know, although I haven’t tried this, probably wouldn’t.

    In my office we are encouraged to pick an accountability partner, but for me it has more been about someone I can go to when I need a question answered or need a bit of uplifting advice. One day, I felt like I couldn’t deal with time management very well, so a fellow agent sat me down and told me her story…and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It did more for me than she probably could imagine. That’s the kind of “push” I need to succeed.

  10. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    This post raises a question – shouldn’t a broker be a coach? If the broker is not fulfilling this role, are the “professional coaches” step up? Also accountability isn’t really the readiness of accepting responsibility? Vicki as you pointed out your parents taught you responsibility and accountability.

    Of course, there are coachable and uncoachable individuals – innate talent that is not fully realized.

  11. Bob

    July 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    At the end of the day, being in real estate is still just an owner operated business.

    Take a walk down Main Street and pop into any of the successful mom and pop/ sole proprietorship businesses and ask how many employ a coach that hold them accountable. When the laughter subsides, I’ll bet the answer is zip.

  12. Vicki Moore

    July 22, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for all of the input. Personally it was a great help. I did personal coaching. I agree with Vance – it was annoying.

    I don’t want to pay someone to reprimand me or remind me of what I didn’t do. I already know I didn’t do it!

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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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