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Social Media- Figuring Out What Works



Image Courtesy of Will Lions &

Impact of Social Media

As we all spend time talking and reading about the impact of Social Media in our lives and our businesses, from a business perspective, there is not a lot of quantifiable data that shows a hard return on the time and effort spent in blogging or twittering. At least not a lot that I have found yet. Then again, there has not been a lot of good empirical data surrounding the “pull through” rate on static web site inquiries, and we’ve been using them for a whole lot longer.  The “pull through” rate is the percentage of visitors that actually convert to contracts. We start our definition with a consumer who has provided us with a valid email address and/or phone number. We then divide those contracts by the number of potential clients to determine our “pull through” or success rate.

Seeing What Works

When we started to monitor our web responses, we really didn’t put much credence in the numbers until we had collected information for a year. I know that a year seems like a long time, but the amount of data needs to be large enough to have some significance in developing the statistics. We have now been monitoring our company web site for years and we can track the traffic month-by-month and year-by-year, seeing where strategies increase or decrease our responses from different sources. We have actually developed our own empirical data because everyone else was providing us with statistics meant to prove the value of their product, not to provide us with unbiased information.

That having been said, the whole concept of building trust and relationships on line to impact our real world business is just common sense.  If people want to remain anonymous when they begin their search for real estate professionals, and we honor their request while building their confidence through interaction in the virtual and actual communities, we will probably be at the front of the line when they go to choose who will represent them. However, we each need to compile data on our efforts so that we know what we do that works and what we do that doesn’t work.

Monitor Your Responses

Maybe being in Twitter has a greater impact on your online presence then Blogging. Maybe you should spend your time commenting instead of writing blogs. Maybe you need to post videos instead of writing. But whatever you do, it would probably make sense to monitor your responses before you made any large decisions about your strategy, though tweaking your presence to increase responses makes perfect sense during the whole process. While the need to engage is obvious and urgent, the method of your particular engagement is a matter of personal skills and preferences.

So experiment, have fun, be conversational, and let yourself show through in all of your efforts, and keep records of what is working in the short run and in the long run. Every day is a new adventure, and learning from your experience may be the greatest adventure of all.

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  1. Jim Gatos

    August 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Hello, Bill…

    I just tried “NowLive”, a sort of internet radio, and it was a hilarious experience, however, I decided it isn’t for me. Having a regular radio show with limited listenership and the time it takes, I quickly decided to forget it. I deactivated my account and the only thing that works for me is blogging. Twitter? Why would I want to let people know I’m taking leak? LOL.. I just can’t understand Twitter.

  2. Bob

    August 31, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Jim, this one is for you:

    How many people Use Twitter.

    The sequel.

  3. Bill Lublin

    September 1, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Jim; I use twitter as a reader for news updates and finding what my friends are looking at or writing, as a writer I use it for notifying people of new blog posts and distributing photos I want to share. I do agree with you though that people that are posting their too intimate details provide way TMI! LOL

    Bob: Love that girl! Very funny…

  4. Jim Gatos

    September 1, 2008 at 4:58 am

    LOL, Bill, LOL..

    I just started using Twitter; it’s a “challenge; like being in an “internet” prison where I have to “report” to my probation officer everything I do…

    I’ don’t know.. I’ll get used to it..


  5. Jim Gatos

    September 1, 2008 at 5:11 am


    Very scary.. Give me the good ole’ days where I had a beeper and NO cell phone (used to stop at a phone booth all the time, though) and I used to DRIVE a mile to fax stuff, and pay per page!

  6. Glenn fm Naples

    September 1, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I agree we need to be selective in our social media selections – there is just too much out there for them all to be effective.

  7. Jim Rake

    September 1, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Bill – thanks for reminder….if you can’t (and aren’t) measuring it, it’s kind of difficult to know how well, or if, it is working!
    The “Twitter life” has been on the To Do list for a while – think this was the motivation I needed.

  8. Missy Caulk

    September 2, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Hi Bill, I enjoy Twitter and do follow a ton of links, photos etc… I can’t say I have got business from it yet, but I did get one referral from a Ann Arbor person on there. So we’ll see how that turns out.

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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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