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Have you ever Considered using an Electronic Conference Room?



Have you ever considered using an Electronic Conference Room?

As today’s consumers enjoy the benefit of searching for real estate online, it is harder to get those people into the office right away. Please don’t misunderstand, I am a firm believer in the face to face consumer experience. But today’s consumer could be demanding more. That got me thinking about webinars. We are all starting to attend them for education, legal updates and product updates. Why couldn’t we use them with the consumer?

The primary purpose in the electronic conference room (ECR) is to enhance the understanding and communication with the client. It’s easier to detect when they are unsure or misunderstand the presentation when you are in person. But that’s not always possible. This is second best because you are looking at the same thing at the same time and you can hear their voice.

What is a an Electronic Conference Room?

When the traditional conference room goes electronic, it opens up a variety of possibilities because of its multimedia potential. The multimedia experience is also a multifunctional experience. Brainstorming meetings, training sessions and client conferences are just a few of the ways in which companies have put their newer multimedia facility to use.

Don’t be intimidated by the notion of “electronic” and “multimedia.” You don’t have to be a technocrat to make it work or even hire an engineer to oversee the room. Its workings are fairly basic.

Use a Webinar Platform (I use Here are the features:

  • They are “Agent led”
  • They are “LIVE” with start and ending
  • Each participant sits at his or her own computer
  • Attendees will simply enter a “URL” or website meeting address to enter the live meeting or conference.

Value of Graphics – One of the advantages of using the web over JUST the phone only is that the web allows more control over the graphics used. It is also visually stimulating and graphics can reinforce the teaching you are doing

What can you cover? I would like to invite you to experience one of these meetings. I just recorded one and will have the link handy after Triple Play. Thoughts?

Amy is a national technology speaker who can inspire, train and help people implement technology strategies into their business. To find out about her training, coaching or webinars visit her website at

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  1. Ben Roberts

    December 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I think this is definitely in the future of real estate. While many of us ‘tech savvy’ agents are set up with a webcam and the know-how to use web conferencing, I have found that most of my clients are lacking in that area. Perhaps if we trained our clients about what to expect from the beginning it would be easier. I would like to see more video conferencing along with webinars are offers, inspections, etc. I think that is probably a couple steps down the road. Thanks for a great post!

  2. Robin Taylor Roth

    December 7, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I agree with you, Amy. I’ve been teaching, using a virtual classroom (Centra or WebEx) for 8 years, and just love working in that enrivonment. You can reach a far broader audience with a webinar, than with a local seminar. True, you may seem to lose the “personal” touch, but I’ve had no trouble transmitting my personality and sensing those of my “students.” And, often, more people will participate actively in an online setting, if your virtual classroom has the appropriate tools.

  3. George McCumiskey

    December 7, 2008 at 5:22 am

    It is a chat room for business purposes. Being scheduled at a specific time you can definitely reach more prospective or current clients at one time. Including them could be considered a compliment to their techie skills on the computer if presented correctly.

  4. Matthew Hardy

    December 7, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    We use GoToMeeting all the time. Awesome tool for better, immediate communication. Explanations become much more succinct when you’re both looking at the same thing, or… “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

  5. Sandi Watts

    December 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I have been using Yugma for connecting with my clients (much more affordable than GoToMeeting). I find that a number of clients really appreciate using online conferencing because it saves THEM time (not to mention the time it saves me!). I also have clients who have been recommended to me because I am “efficient” and “respect my client’s schedules”. This technology does not work for some people but I am finding it more and more accepted when clients are given the option.

  6. Amy Chorew

    December 7, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I have heard of Yugma, not used it thanks for the tip. The learning curve on these products is not steep. Once an agent is comfortable with using the platform they will find that they will opening a webinar more and more. Communication is so important and it makes situations so clear. consider using them also for:
    Review Inspection and Craft Response
    Review counter offers
    Look at photos or virtual tour before they launch
    Show marketing and websites.

  7. Brian

    December 8, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I have used Go-to-Meeting but there are other worthy contenders (we may be switching soon).
    Other web conferencing applications:
    Adobe Connect is one. Make sure you sign up for the free version that allows up to 3 attendees, not the free trial that is only good for x number of days. For most agents 3 attendees would more than suffice.

    Another good app is Dim Dim. They offer a free version that allows up to 20 visitors.

    Both are very similar to Go-to-Meeting and are both simple to use.

  8. Amy Chorew

    December 8, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    WOW! DimDim is amazing. Free, and it lets you open white boards and have your webcam running. I am going to have some fun with this one . . . does it record the meeting?

  9. John Wake

    December 14, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I couldn’t find a free version to Adobe Connect, they are only pushing Connect Pro on the Adobe website.

    Dimdim, however, looks like an excellent alternative. I’m impressed with how easy it looks. It’s so easy even a Realtor could use it. (Or more importantly, a Realtor’s clients.)

    Yugma also looks good, although, Dimdim seems to have more features in the free version.

    These are just my first impressions. I’ve installed both but haven’t used them live yet.

  10. Brian Davis

    December 15, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Adobe’s free version is actually called ConnectNow. You can sign up here:

    Dim Dim does allow you to record the meeting but it appears the free version does not record the whiteboard or co-browsing (viewing web pages).
    Also noteworthy, I have run into some issues with the screencaster driver and based on the Dim Dim forum, I’m not the only one.

  11. Kevin Micalizzi w/Dimdim

    December 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Dimdim Free does include recording. It’s free for up to 20 attendees and comes with a free conference call number if you prefer to do that instead of online audio.

    Thanks for giving Dimdim a try.


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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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