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How You Can Dominate Your Market Without Spending a Mint



212339449_2b4bd484a3Sound too good to be true?

It’s not. There is a huge shift in consumer behaviour underway, impacting the way we buy and sell everything. 

Innovate or die, and death isn’t an option.

This is a huge opportunity for you.

If you’re reading this site, chances are that you’re the type that will be attracting business away from agents who just don’t get it. The few who step up will dominate their market.

There are many of us who are generating significant amounts of business online.  Just look at Daniel, Mariana, Jonathan, Teresa, me, Ines, Jay, Kris, Bill, etc. (and please don’t be offended if I left you off, this list is far from exhaustive, and isn’t meant to be)

Two of my good friends are just starting out in real estate this month. They’ve asked me what I would do if I was a new agent; I want to share my advice with you.

First, let me tell you that you should take my advice with two grains of salt.  If you’re doing the opposite of what I say, and it’s working for you, go for it. Read what other people say (the authors here at AG are a great resource to draw on) and make up your own mind.  This is just what works for me, and it’s working really well. 

Print ads suck. Content is king

Concentrate on writing great stuff, making videos that people want to watch and send to their friends, and leaving insightful comments on sites relevant to your area and niche.  This isn’t rocket science, but many people want a shortcut.

Work hard. Harder than you are now

Speaking of shortcuts, I’ve never met one I liked.  If you’re lucky enough to find one, don’t take it. Work hard. Learn the lessons. To quote Gary Vaynerchuk, control your hustle.

Don’t play Mario Kart on your WiiFit or PS4 or whatever it is grown adults are spending all night on.

Instead, write. Read and outside of your space; biographies, biz books, philosophy etc. Stretch your mind.

Darin Parsinger and I have been talking on twitter recently about what a productive morning could look like, for a Realtor who was really working hard and getting their media groove on (you say social media, I say media).

I said: 2 hours writing, making videos and podcasts. 2 hours contacting clients and customers, preferably face to face or on the phone. 

Darin today tweeted “I’m tweaking that formula. 1-2-1.   1 hour create content. 2 hours phone. 1 face to face meeting a day.” 

Personally, I think we need to have more than 1 meeting per day, but you get the idea. Spend a solid 3 or 4 hour chunk of time developing and generating business. Every day.  Then do it some more.

Spend time every single day listening on twitter using the local search features (search “home near:Waterloo” or “apartment near:90210”).  Outwork everyone. 

Be everywhere

I had coffee with a buddy of mine who is also an agent in Kitchener (hey Kevin!) who started video blogs last year. He’s making great content, and I suggested that he also have a blog, and write articles about his niche, in addition to the videos.

It’s cool to be found on youtube, but it’s cooler to be found on youtube, hubspot, linkdin, myspace, squidoo, twitter, facebook, 5 or 6 niche blogs, flickr, gowala, kabudo, mazungo… you get the point.

Be easy to find.  (the new school version of Don’t be a secret agent)

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

…and neither was my blog. I started writing when I got my license at the very end of 2005.  I didn’t start getting leads right away, but I kept creating content. 

Patience is an underrated virtue, and it is often the difference between good and wildly successful. Have the patience to wait for your efforts to be ready.

My mentor Jim Rohn talked about the farmer who plants in the spring; you won’t harvest in the summer, no matter how much you want to. Most people give up in the heat of the summer, with all the mosquitos and the sunburns.  They never make it to harvest; they quit, even though it’s just a little bit further. 

Basically, that’s it.  Create content, put it all over, work really hard, and be tenacious.   Check out the video for some additional thoughts.

(photo credit:

Benjamin Bach is a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty in Kitchener Waterloo, Canada (home of the Blackberry) and shows people how they can avoid a mediocre retirement by building wealth through smart Real Estate Investments. You can find out more at

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  1. Darin Persinger

    February 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Awesome Stuff Benjamin!!!

    I just want to make sure that agents understand that you need to JOIN conversations and not just start conversations.

    Your blog = Starting conversations. Commenting/Networking/Engagement/Interaction = Joining conversations.

    People don’t want to be talked at; they want to be talked with. Actually people desire to be heard more than anything. They want you to listen. They want to tell their story, to share their success, and vent their disappoint. This is all taking place online. People are giving you an opportunity to join their conversation every minute of every day.

    You could try to start a conversation, but I think it is much easier to join one. Think about it like this:
    You walk into a networking event and stand in the middle of the room and scream, “I LIKE TURTLES!”
    Everyone at the event will probably look at you like you are crazy, or you could try this:
    You walk into a networking event and walk over to a small group and start listening to the conversation. You overhear someone say they like dogs and you ask “Do you have a favorite breed?”

    I believe it’s much easier to join conversations that other people have already started. All you have to do is listen.

    Your blog, your content gives you a home base for people to go and find you, check you out, learn more only after you have listened first.

    “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

    And don’t be afraid of the phone! Its just another tool! Like facebook, twitter, etc. Don’t just use it for web apps, texting, emails. Actually call people. Move them thru a process of getting face to face. Online => Phone conversation => Face 2 Face

    Social Media tools are not meant to keep people away, they are meant to bring them in and connect!!!

  2. Kevin Baker

    February 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Awsome Ben! Another great article. You are definitly a forerunner when it comes to social networking and online marketing. I fully agree with your comments about getting involved in conversations and getting content out there everywhere.
    Too many worry about getting it perfect and tweeking it to death. Just give it your best shot and get it out there. Work hard and the results will come.
    Keep up the great work!

  3. Ken Brand

    February 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Practical Savvy Advice – Good Stuff.

    This headline is my favorite, “Work hard. Harder than you are now.” You’re headline and what Seth Godin wrote the other day, “Think Big. BIGGER than that.”, go together like Batman and Robin.

    Well done.

  4. Duke Long

    February 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Great stuff. When I mention any of the above to most anyone in Commercial Real Estate thier reaction is …..DUHHH. Is there a class or who can I hire to do this for me? The new agents coming in have no choice in my opinion..and that’s a good thing. Keep cranking out the good stuff.

  5. LadinVentures

    February 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Great Post Ben!

    I think we’re due for a large scale cleanse of the CRE system. It’s up to us as forward thinking CRE peeps to build off the ideas and values of other industry movements.

    In the end, it’s not about how many tools we use, but how they ultimately impact our client.

  6. Benjamin Bach

    February 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Darin, I agree. We need to take relationships from online, to the offline world.

    Kevin, thanks for the kind words. Keep bringing the videos!

    Thanks Ken. Seth is a mentor, so that’s a very big compliment. I appreciate you

    Duke, CRE can be a bit slow to adopt sometimes, eh? Actually, let me get your read on this: we’re starting up the commercial division at our Keller Williams, and I’m joining as the Director for Investment/Multi-Family. I’ve been told I should get ‘normal’ CRE cards, with just text and the KW Commercial logo, vs the cartoon Ben cards I have now (it’s in the title at for an idea of what I mean). What do you think?

    LadinVentures – we all need to unite! Duke has a great CRE twitter list I follow, lots of great thinkers there. Where else are you finding fwd thinking CRE ppl?

  7. Duke Long

    February 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Ben, Hmmmmm
    Style, attitude, branding, point of view, and content..pretty strong combo.
    My card has no pic, (there are only maybe really 5 pics of me on the planet) my name, compamy name, cell only number, email and twitter handle.
    Can you tell I’m an old geezer? Can we both kick ass? Is your stuff authentic and real ?<<as in are you? Rip a hole in the BIZ! Have some fun. Lord knows someone in CRE needs TOO.

  8. Patrick Flynn

    February 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Dynamite post my friend! This is what it’s all about…you are spot on!
    10 years ago, we were all told we needed a website…today we need to be linked here and blogging there…the only constant in the real estate universe through all these paradigm shifts has always been getting and staying connected and working hard…you still can’t do that on-line as effectively as B2B!

  9. Benjamin Bach

    February 3, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Thx Duke
    I’ll have you give my Operating Principle a call to back me up 🙂

    Patrick, Thx so much. I agree, working hard and being connected is the only constant in this biz!

  10. Matt Stigliano

    February 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Benjamin – In talking about building your content and getting leads (Rome wasn’t built in a day), I found myself wondering, “when do you feel those efforts really started to make a crack in your marketing efforts?” One of the hardest things for me to explain to anyone is the time it takes – no one likes to feel like their methods are just not working out for them. Blogging is a great example of doing it and remaining patient without giving in because it feels like there’s no return. When it begins to lead to returns, suddenly it all seems worthwhile, but it does take time.

    The 1-2-1 theory works, but I think it needs to be adapted to account for people new to all of this. When you start, you don’t bang out a few blog posts in an hour. You write one and look up at the clock and realize it took you much longer than you had expected. The speed comes later as you start to get a rhythm to your blogging efforts and there are times when you write a post in your head and type it out in five minutes. For new agents (or those new to blogging) this becomes a major stumbling block – time is the biggest issue I hear cited as why not.

  11. Benjamin Bach

    February 4, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Lots of wisdom Matt, thank you!!

  12. Janice Harper

    February 4, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Awesome Ben! Another great article. You are definitely a forerunner when it comes to social networking and online marketing. I fully agree with your comments about getting involved in conversations and getting content out there everywhere.
    Too many worry about getting it perfect and tweaking it to death. Just give it your best shot and get it out there. Work hard and the results will come.
    Keep up the great work!

  13. Mike Bowler Sr

    February 4, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    RT @agentgenius: #agnow Awesome Ben! Another great article. You are definitely a forerunner when it comes to SM.

  14. Cindy Marchant

    February 10, 2010 at 8:37 am

    You say content is King and I agree, but consistency is Queen. I too started blogging awhile ago (you win for 2005!) but I write consistently every 4th day on my local city blog and the first six months, I was writing to vapor. But then something clicked and I make a lot of money off of people finding me on my blog. They consider me the expert for my local city blog.
    I also think for some, you can’t be everywhere and have a life. I run more efficient than most and cannot seem to keep up with Twitter. So make your choices and decide where you excel. For me my social media is facebook and blogging. I am okay with not being everywhere.

    • Benjamin Bach

      February 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

      Hey Cindy
      Thank you for taking the time to read my piece and also for your terrific comments. You are correct – it takes time.

      The formula is: Time on a task /(over) time = success

      RE: not being everywhere – right again! What we dabble in, we often fail at. What we focus on, we succeed at (as long as we’re tenacious enough!)

  15. Benjamin Bach

    February 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Had a great chat with agent in my market who wants to generate biz online. I said: read this and then we'll make a plan

  16. CBRB_Alexandria

    February 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Great article by @benjaminbach :: :: #realtors #socialmedia #sm #twitter #prospecting

  17. Benjamin Bach

    February 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    RT @MarcTheRealtor: Great article by @benjaminbach :: :: #realtors #socialmedia #sm #twitter #prospecting [thx Marc!!!]

  18. Benjamin Bach

    March 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    @TobyBoyce notice the background music in the vid at this AG post: ? #coocooforgaga

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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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