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How to be a better short sale listing agent

Lessons from Sullenberger and Schettino

When I was 16, I got my first part-time job. Since I was nervous, my mother said, “Just do your best, and I’m sure you will be successful.” That conversation has stuck with me for over thirty years, especially when I see people who work their hardest and are truly successful.

Case in point: Chesley Sullenberger. We all know who he is. He has been revered as a hero for landing a plane on the Hudson River, caring for the passengers and crew, and assuring that everyone got off the plane successfully. He was doing his job and doing his best. Now he is a national hero, and has several additional accolades to add to his curriculum vitae.

On the other hand, we have Francesco Schettino, the Captain of the Costa Concordia. People are calling him a coward because he left the ship well before he safely saw all of the crew and passengers to safety. While we definitely do not know the whole story and probably never will, many might agree that this was not his finest hour.

Top 3 ways to be a better short sale agent

Short sale listing agents always need to do their best. Frequently, a good short sale listing agent (and negotiator) can make the difference between a seller selling his/her home as a short sale and losing that same home to foreclosure.

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Here are the top three ways to become a better short sale listing agent:

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Everyone wants to take a listing. But, make sure that this is a listing that you can actually sell. Be sure that you are familiar with the lien holders, and the short sale systems necessary in order to complete the process successfully.
  2. Develop systems. It doesn’t matter whether you are a one-man band or a team. It is important to have systems in place in order to correctly process your short sale listings. How often do you call the banks? Where do you log the conversations? How do you compile your files? A good, strong system can make a big difference—especially as you get busier throughout the year.
  3. Communicate. How many rants have you read online where agents were complaining that other agents were not answering phone calls or responding to emails? Communicating with colleagues and with clients is vital to your short sale business. Make it a rule to send a weekly email to the buyer’s agent during the short sale negotiation period. That will help to assure that the buyer is still on board and ready to close, once the short sale is approved.

It’s funny (or perhaps ironic) that those three short sale tips may also apply to Hudson River landing and the Costa Concordia fiasco. Sullenberger was an extremely accomplished pilot, had a strong crew and excellent systems, And, of course, he communicated clearly with passengers. Everyone lived to thank him. If you can use that same approach with respect to your short sale listings, then your clients will be thanking you for your service.

Written By

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.


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