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How to be Transparent Without Showing Your Chest Hair




1.0 vs 2.0

You know the internet is no longer a static tool to show pictures and data. It’s an interactive tool that is highly participatory. It’s the old 1.0 versus 2.0 thang.

It was once easy just to put up a web site with your picture, pictures of listed properties, school information and other static data. Now there is much more pressure to participate at a deeper level, to be more familiar and transparent through tools like social networks. To appear and talk to people in a way that might be foreign or forced. How are you adapting to this new more casual and less buttoned up approach?

Rushing to embrace 2.0

I know a real estate agent who understood this world and wanted to rush into embracement. The first thing he did was ditch the suit and tie for a casual Tommy Bahama type shirt and trousers. He went into the photography studio for a new picture; he created a personal video, started a blog and redid all his marketing materials to reflect a more approachable 2.0 kind of guy. He was so excited to show me the new him. I nearly hit the floor when I saw that the new him included a prominent spot for his chest hairs, which were clearly visible in his photo.

Although the intent was genuine, the execution lacked finesse. How do you come across as real and transparent without sacrificing your professionalism? What I would have asked him was: who are your target audiences? What kind of expectations have you set with them about the way you dress, your demeanor? He worked with a lot of busy professionals. Ok, then dump the suit coat (no don’t put it over your shoulder), but keep the shirt and tie. Fine to create the blog, put up a LinkedIn page, Facebook and all the rest, if it is in alignment with your target audiences (past and future clients).

Your approach

I hate to sound like a broken record, but your approach to the 2.0 world of collaboration and participation should simply be inline with your target audience and the ‘brand’ that you’ve created or want to create.

And wherever you fall within the spectrum of participation, the number one rule is don’t force it. You’ve seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter that are so obviously smarmy or unnatural. Yes, nuances in typed text can scream loudly. Beware that in this space of fast traveling information, the bad reputation hits you in real time. Remember these short messages can easily be misinterpreted. While you may want to share a strong opinion or joke, it could hit someone the wrong way leaving the wrong lasting impression. It only takes one communication fail to ruin your reputation.

Don’t, don’t, don’t

Don’t force sell. Don’t force your personal life. Don’t force editorial commentary. Don’t force humor.

This new space is about the natural flow of conversation and information. Not that you can’t sell, share your personal life, make editorial comment or show humor, it’s about doing all that as you.

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  1. Joe Loomer

    July 10, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I sense a little “foreplay” in your “wordplay,” Ginny!

    Great post – I don’t know how many times during any given day I can see posts on FB that involve two folks who REALLY should have just used the “chat” function.

    One last week had three agents from a local firm going off about a back-stabbing client-stealing fellow agent – also in their own firm. This post reminded me of that…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. MIssy Caulk

    July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Ginny, be yourself is key, being comfortable in your own skin. I am not funny, I can’t be and I can’t try to be. My hubby is hysterical, he says I was born withOUT a sense of humor.

    I struggle with that on Twitter, so many quick witted folks on there.

  3. Joshua Dorkin @

    July 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Ginny – You used a few key words that stick out to me: collaboration and participation. These, in my opinion, are the keys to being successful in this world of web 2.0. Just slapping up a profile, no matter how professional, across the web, won’t do you much good until you get out there and start interacting with the rest of the community.

  4. Ken Brand

    July 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Your post is an example of perfect balance.

    As for Mister Chest Hairs….looking at the half-full glass, I’d say, thankfully he left his gold chains on night stand. Or where ever one keeps them.


  5. Austin Smith -

    July 10, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Ginny, great follow up post to yesterday’s. You make a good point that Your image needs to work for You, or else it won’t be effective. Did you point out this guy’s fuax pas, or just try not to smile when you pocketed his card.. 🙂

    “thankfully he left his gold chains on night stand” – Ahaha…I wonder if he wore loafers and a pinky ring?

  6. Jay Zenner

    July 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Of course you are correct but this isn’t just a Web 2.0 phenomenon. Part of the problem is that for years in a sellers’ market the competition for clients has been so intense that our marketing emphasis has been on “personal branding” and generating leads. The worst example I ever saw was a series of tips by an “expert” in luxury home marketing who recommended making a long list of the attributes of your “ideal” client and then doing everything you could to become that ideal. She cited this as the “Law of Attraction” and a way to make yourself over and attract business so you to can enjoy the benefits of luxury home sized commissions.

    There is a big market inside the industry for this type of advice and maybe it works, but frankly, it makes my skin crawl. It’s hard to imagine better advice for becoming unauthentic…a phony…untrustworthy.

    But I also had a less emotional reaction to this advice that is more important now that we have shifted to a buyers’ market and are likely to be there for a while. With higher inventories relative to qualified buyers we need to demonstrate our skill in marketing homes. Scan the recent eflyers you have received or listings on Quite often the product positioning is awful, the photography is awful and the copy writing is abysmal. Dig a little deeper and a lot of the pricing is suspect.

    Here’s a unique idea…tie your personal brand to some expertise in these areas and skip the humor, stories about your dog and, of course, the chest hair.

    Jay Zenner

  7. Mark Eckenrode

    July 13, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    collaboration and participation should simply be inline with your target audience

    smart advice that’s not often followed.

  8. tomferry

    September 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I just went back to your post and did a re-read Ginny. Awesome- thank you!

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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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