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How many grains of rice will it take?



This is a grain of rice

Only one grain of rice.

One grain of rice. Pretty insignificant by itself. If I were to eat only one grain of rice for a meal, I wouldn’t even notice I had eaten anything. I would still be hungry. One grain of rice means absolutely nothing. Or does it?

An ounce of cooked long-grain brown rice has 31 calories, 1 mg of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram each of dietary fiber and protein.

An ounce contains about 1,000 grains of rice. Let’s run those numbers for a single grain of rice: 0.031 calories, 0.001 mg of sodium, 0.006 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.001 gram each of dietary fiber.

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, you only need to eat 64,515.129 grains more to complete your day. That one single grain seems even more insignificant doesn’t it?

A bag of rice.

A one pound bag of rice contains many identical little grains of rice (approximately 16,000). A large enough bag could feed someone for months. A large bag filled with thousands of grains, suddenly contains the power to nourish. Nourish for a long time. By combining the miniscule nutritional power of rice with that of its neighbors in that bag, you have a powerhouse of nutrition the world over. A staple in many diets, rice is relied upon in many cultures for survival in the form of basic nourishment. Its power is immense when combined with its fellow grains.

One grain, one mission.

A few weeks ago I got involved in multiple issues floating around that involved the governance of our various associations. I’ll spare you those details, you’ve read them by now I hope. I was fascinated with how it made me feel to think that I might be letting my entire career be decided by people I don’t even know. So I made it my mission to become a part of the governance that affects us all. I’m just one guy and I don’t expect to march into a meeting and start shouting orders and making changes. It doesn’t work like that, I’m not that delusional. There are people that have inspired me to do all of this (and so much more) and I can only hope that I can pass that along to others in any way I can.

Rice in my inbox.

Last week, my email pinged its familiar sound to let me know it needed my attention. I clicked each email, making mental notes of “things to do” and then stopped when I saw this:

Your AgentGenius post about getting involved, along with my broker’s suggestion, finally got me to take a step in the right direction. I am now a member of my local association’s RPAC Committee. Thank you for your post, for giving me an example of what Realtors® should do, and the encouragement to finally get involved.

The email was sent by Mark Brain and it really made my day. It’s not everyday that you get someone to say thanks for something that you are excited about and believe in. The email also gave me hope. How many people read it, how many people thought about it, how many people may have reacted to it? I’m not the first one with these “ideas” or “goals.” I’m not the inventor of the internet or anything. I just spoke with a public platform and told you (I often think I’m just speaking to a small group of friends) what was on my mind. Yet, here was a guy I had never met, telling me thanks.

I know this post may seem a bit self-congratulatory, but that’s not its intent. In fact, if there’s any congratulations to pass around, I would hand them off to AgentGenius for being a platform where we can express our views and I wanted to share the news to show everyone out there (writers, readers, and curiosity seekers) that you can make a difference. Perhaps one day Mark and I will serve on a National Committee together or run the whole shebang. You never really know what the future holds, but without making a step into it, you’ll never find out.

I asked Mark to keep me up to date with his experiences and of course, I’ll keep you up to date on mine. So far, no word from the Texas Association of Realtors® and the sign-ups for the San Antonio Board of Realtors® doesn’t start until later this year. As I said to Bill Lublin in his post earlier today, “I can’t complain from the bench, if I don’t know what game is being played or how the plays unfold.” If I’m a grain of rice, I still need about 15,999 other grains to join me.

photo courtesy of AMagill

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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  1. Joe Loomer

    June 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Great articulation of this point, Matt.

    I wanted to also let you know that I took those now-familiar issues from weeks ago and gave a quick synopsis four our team meeting here (audience of about 130 after the email version goes out). Like you, I wanted to participate in a way that made me feel like I wasn’t just shouting from the sidelines. Now our agents are aware of the issues that directly affect their lives and they know how to take action – even if it’s just taking the time to email their local board reps.

    Thanks for this post – it would have been easy to just melt back in to the humdrum and stop paying attention to the larger issues that require all our input.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Missy Caulk

    June 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Matt, glad you shared that that happened, it is nice to hear something you wrote encouraged someone to get off the fence. Great analogy too.

    Reminds me of the song, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”.

  3. Gwen Banta

    June 21, 2009 at 8:14 am

    This is both inspirational and motivational, Matt. I hope someday you do run the whole shebang. Congratulations on making a difference.

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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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