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Indoctrinating Home Buyers & Sellers



This video will anger you, but hear me out…

This video is a very well produced documentary style depiction of a consumer’s take on how to deal with those pesky Realtors. I am not a Realtor but even I can tell you several factual flaws in this video and we could debate the merits of the claims presented, but what I’m more concerned about is that agents should know what consumers are being indoctrinated with.

This video was made with an obvious bias and could just as easily have said “educate yourself, know X, Y & Z local laws prior to signing a contract” but instead it starts off implying that everyone should inherently distrust Realtors. How do you combat anti-agent sentiment when someone calls you after being indoctrinated with videos like this one? How do you present your value when someone has been told they must not trust you?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Kevin Tomlinson-Miami Beach Real Estate

    December 29, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I think the video is absolutely hilarious.

    Additionally, if you get into a “combat” mode against the video you give it validity.

    I think it’s funny how they portray the Realtor in the video.

    I’m thinking about posting it on my blog.

    Still laughing.

  2. Lani Rosales

    December 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Kevin, how do you deal with clients that think you’re scum before they even contact you (despite the hilariously shady chick in the alley with an inspector, whatev!)?

  3. Matt Wilkins

    December 29, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Although I agree with a few of the points this video makes, that is overshadowed by the assumptions made that we don’t do things that are required by state laws and/or the REALTOR code of ethics.

  4. Elaine Reese

    December 29, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Any idea when this video was made? The too-high price, the reduced commission, and the FSBO advice are all out-dated for today’s market. Leads me to believe it was made back in 2003 or 2004. Any seller who is using this as a basis of their info in today’s market will be in for a surprise.

  5. Paula Henry

    December 29, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Education, Lani…..and often it takes time for them to see how you handle each situation.

    It’s all included in my buyer and seller packets.

    If I have to I will sit in front of the MLS and show them why they need to be priced where I suggest. I don’t make up numbers!

    I never give them just one inspector or lender – they can call whoever they want.

    To say an agent is not concerned about their clients money is absurd, though. If they don’t sell, I make nothing – but neither do they – and they will lose more than I will – no brainer.

    Please, please don’t let me westle you into an open house – that’s the only accurate statement in the video, because you know I get at least 20-30 buyers walking through the door. NOT

    Go ahead and try it yourself, I don’t discourage it,however I can show you case after case of people who did do it and the amount of money they lost waiting for their home to sell.

    And, sometimes – I don’t bother. If they are that ditrustful, they are not worth my time.

    Maybe, I too, will put this on my site and counter each item.

  6. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    this does not anger me AT ALL, on the contrary, I agree with a lot of it because there are A LOT of agents out there that are still giving us a bad name.

    The great thing about Digital Media is getting people to trust you before they even meet you – now some statistics should be added to the vid – like how many FSBO’s actually sell by themselves (especially in a down market) – how much lower those FSBO’s sell for – what percentage of FSBO’s end up with a broker………(you get the point)

  7. Miamicondoforum

    December 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I disagree with the video about the yielding the higher price point. In this market, 99% of sellers are unrealistic about what their crappy properties are worth. If anything, a real estate agent tries to keep prices inflated because of commission. Otherwise, I do think real estate agents (except for Kevin Tomlinson) are sneaky and to be distrusted. They are not entitled to 6% commission (1.8 years of mortgage payments) for a few hours work. Most listings have something like 3 terrible pictures and a 2 sentence description in all caps with misspellings. If I did that quality of work I’d expect to never make any money.

    Lani, you talk of indoctrination, but this is a two way street. How about the indoctrination of the American public by the real estate industrial complex about – house prices always going up in value, that housing is a productive asset (even though it is not “investment” but actually consumption – in the same sense that you spend money on automobiles or eating), etc…

    See for more information. Realtor’s days are numbered. and will ultimately be the end of you.

  8. Mariana

    December 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm


  9. Bob

    December 29, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Nice video. Some decent points. Some a bit off. The broker tricks and cons must have been covered in one of the numerous office meetings I missed.

    A very close friend is my favorite home inspector. He has killed deals of mine – and saved me potential litigation by doing so (note to self – send bottle of wine to Joe).

    Gotta love the balanced POV of miamicondoforum – he took shots at sellers and their properties, not just agents.

    Funny comment about Trulia and Zillow though. Reminds me of Brad Inman saying the Internet would be the death of the real estate agent. Then he started HomeGain to sell leads… to agents.

  10. Russell Shaw

    December 29, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    It did not anger me;it is very well produced crap. Almost all of the points raised are off in some way. The guy who made it is into making videos.

    My answer on how to handle someone who saw it and then wanted to “talk about it” before doing business? Find a different person to talk to.

  11. Kevin Tomlinson-Miami Beach Real Estate

    December 29, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for the compliment Miamicondoforum.

    I work very hard to “bring something to the table” for the client.

    I have never “sold” anything to anyone. I assist them, if they need me.

    Lani, if someone thought I was “scum,” my answer would be simply not engage that person.

    All of my clients contact me, I can’t remember “reaching out” to prospect possible clients.

    I guess it’s more of an issue if you are a “typical” salesman’esque’-type of agent.

  12. Bridget Magnus

    December 30, 2008 at 12:08 am


    Please write that post and save me the trouble; I’ll link you. *grin*

  13. ARDELL

    December 30, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Thumbs up for Russell…go ask someone else.

  14. Benn Rosales

    December 30, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Is the answer to uniformly ignore every consumer who asks a tough question?

    If everyone did just that for the next two years, what would our designations and titles be worth as professionals?

    I’m aware of the odds game in sales and have had the luxury of enjoying that outcome, but can that game compete with the reach of the almighty google and its infinite wisdom or lack thereof?

  15. sheilabragg

    December 30, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Indoctrinating Home Buyers & Sellers: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that the ..

  16. Russell Shaw

    December 30, 2008 at 4:19 am

    My response has nothing to do with an unwillingness to answer questions. Any question. Really. Any question from any customer. Always.

    Sometimes there is the apparency of a “question” or “point raised” that is nothing more or less than an attack. When someone is in attack mode answering their “questions” or responding to the “points raised” is a complete waste of time. They aren’t asking a question, they are attacking. Only a fool takes the bait. Cut them to ribbons or walk away. Never fall in between.

    There is literally a *type* of person who would watch that video and then want to “use the material”. From a business standpoint, they can uniformly be safely ignored.

    The video was nothing but a stupid attack presented very artistically. Nevertheless, it is a piece of shit.

  17. Lisa Sanderson

    December 30, 2008 at 6:39 am

    I tell people that this is going to be a long, stressful process and that they need to seriously look for an agent they can trust to help them through. If you start off from a position of distrust, I tell them, the transaction will be miserable for everybody, so find a way to trust *someone*, whether it’s me or someone else. Usually if they have called me they already have an inkling that they might be able to work with me, but I usually nail that trust issue down right away and let them know that I understand where the distrust comes from and that I respect that they have done some research. An educated consumer is the best kind – they truly appreciate a good agent.

  18. Mack

    December 30, 2008 at 7:12 am

    @Miamicondoforum Let me share with you a quick true story about a seller that used the zestimate from your beloved Zillow when negotiating his relocation package with his employer. The zestimate for his address was “x”. Working with that figure (or close to it) he could accept the new position and relocate. The mice type that he failed to use in his computation was that the Zestimate was accurate to within 20%, 80% of the time. The zestimate actually shows the home appreciating in value aprox. 5% in the last year when the comps show a decrease of 5%. How’s that for being accurate and trustworthy?

  19. Jonathan Dalton

    December 30, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Have you ever tried searching for homes on Trulia? Check Trulia Voices for the fun …

    The video’s interesting – some points I agree with (such as buyers checking the comps), some are completely off (such as making sure all offers are presented).

    Was preparing to send the annual calendars yesterday and discovered one of my past buyers has their home on the market through a flat rate company for about 12% higher than they paid at the start of the year.

    Okayfine, have fun with that.

  20. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    December 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

    We have a waterfront listing in Miami Shores that when you punch it up on Zillow, it gets compared to dry lots – INSANE!! It’s a difference of at least $500k ….go tell THAT to the seller.

  21. Benn Rosales

    December 30, 2008 at 10:50 am


    “An educated consumer is the best kind ” and I tell them that, and I invite their input 100%. Generally, around the 3rd or 4th attempt to stump me and I’ve given them empirical evidence, the doubts fade. Skeptics are abundant in this market and it’s no wonder. Not even the leading economists are willing to stake their reputations on a guess, why would a real estate practitioner know any differently about what the future will hold.

  22. Jim Gatos

    December 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

    This video did not anger me.. This video to me is evidence that that the guy who made it has absolutely NO idea what he is talking about. I am going to post this on my blog and my reply may be a youtube Video with my rebuttal.. Or perhaps one of you should do this and allow us all to share it on our blogs.

    I’ll wait until I hear..

  23. Barry Cunningham

    December 30, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Wonder if this will get through… goes…

    Other than the payola to the inspector , which does happen, but can not be used to cast a total blanket on this video, what else is erroneous or not truthful.

    I have watched this video 5 times and I am trying to see where it is not information that is easy to be substantiated.

    Tip 1. Do your own research on comps…yep, great advice. Don’t see anything wrong with that. Where would I get it..well I’d ask an agent and I would tell them to be very specific (OMG you wouldn’t believe the BS CMA’s I have seen) Tell them you want a list of all closed, pending, and actives. Closed can not be anymore than90-120 days old and must be similar in configuration and amenities and prefarably within the same subdivision. We need to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The pending and actives are for the regression analysis we will need to perform. (you do know what that is don’t you Mr. Agent)

    Tip 2.Make sure that your listing contract has a termination clause written in the contract allowing you to fire the agent at any time at your discretion however of course if they have introduced or procured you a buyer you will need to expect to compensate them..and by all means do make sure that ALL offers are conveyed directly to you.

    Make sure that if you reduce the price that you do so based upon the above referenced regression analysis. And that said reduction does not extend the listing agreement.

    Tip 3 Forget about open houses…agreed! Hey this one is a toss up..simply a matter of opinion but hey you can’t argue what the video says isn’t true. There are literally dozens of traning courses all over the Internet and by the NAR that encourage agents to hold open houses as a form of marketing THEMSELVES…so this tip is actually right.

    Can’t see how anyone would have a problem with that one.

    Tip 4. ABSOLUTELY CORRECT..while some here may not negotiate their commission…it is no longer scarosanct and of course one is able to negotiate it. Just becasue you won’t do it doesn’t mean that MOST won’t as the video says…so this tip is accurate as well.

    I addressed it earlier but yes there are some unethical agents out there so indeed you should have all offes submitted for your review.

    I would never accuse an inspector of being on the take but we all know how inspectors get paid. They are not paid to red tag properties they are hired to get them bought or sold. Also…what’s wrong with an independent point of view?

    And yes you most assuredly need to know building code ordinances and no way you should assume an agent knows them. If they say they do, have them sign a document where they state that they will be responsible for any violations. That will often smoke out the BS.

    Now the big one that most agents have a problem with. Wherein the video says you should consider going about it yourself. it wrong to consider it? Is it wrong to educate yourself…think twice before you answer that question. Here’s why.

    Let’s say today John wants to sell his house on his own and he is inundated with agents telling him he is unprepared and does not have the knowledge to sell his home on his own. So he should hire a professional and spend 6% becasue the professional knows better. Him, so if John’s house is worth $200,000 it will cost him $12,000 to have the professional sell his house for him.

    But wait Johnsays, hey I’m a bright guy, I think I can do this…so he begins to educate himself and he reads 1 book. 1 Text book and he feels he can tackle this on his own. Are you as agents saying John is wrong?

    Well what if that book he bought was the real estate licensee text book. The same book that everyone else reads. Then he takes a test based upon what he read in the book and now he is a licensed real estate agent.

    Is he now capable of selling his house on his own? Now that he is armed with the same information that many of the agents who said he would fail as a FSBO. By the way, he spent $199.00 for the book and took his class and test online.

    Now he’s saved a whopping amount of cash and he’s now licensed. yes, he only read 1 book and last week he wasn’t licensed but now he’s got the Blue R on his lapel and all of a sudden he CAN sell his home on his own because suddenly he has new found knowledge that no other FSBO could ever obtain unless they got the Blue R button.

    So…is that tip on the video all that wrong?

    Lastly we get to the Internet part. Please, it is so right..actually it’s a lot said half and we all know it’s MUCH higher than that now..85%+ I believe is the new number.

    yet, most agents have the web presence of a cadever and their websites take up space like abandoned billboards on the info superhighway.

    Of course, not those ehre, this is the upper echelon of web savvy realtors but if you have any doubt that most..90+% have little if any clue about utilizing the internet to snare buyers you are kidding yourselves. Heck there are evn some in this space and other high profile real estate spaces who have not or have no idea as to how to optimize their blog or website to capture business.

    Before you throw pitchforks, you can’t possibly disagree since the above statement is founded directly from NAR data.

    So I ask the detractors of the video…I understand that you may be uncomfortable with the content, and maybe it’s delivery and now unfortunately it’s widespread distribution…but all in all you can not possibly be honest with yourself in sating that all in all it provides some valuable information and insight as well as a caveat for Sellers to explore.

    I for one welcome this kind of video. I am contacting the producer for distribution and editing rights. We’re going to put it on our real estate site and ENCOURAGE the transparency that the video seeks to evoke and we are going to let any selelr and buyer know to ask our staff ANY of these questions and we’ll be prepared to provide them with open and honest responses to ensure the comfort of the client who is trying to resolve a transaction in the most volatile of markets ever seen.

    Makes me wonder how some can be so cocky as to summarily dismiss that which is uncomfortable.

    Remember, this si a public forum wherein anyone can read and it just seems to me that with so many having a tough go at it this year that they would embrace that which may endear themselves to a consumer who holds their profession in such low regard.

    I don’t know, just seems like good business to me.

  24. Paula Henry

    December 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Benn – I will always, always talk to clients, prospects and potential clients, offering my expertise to diminish their concerns and fears. With our gleaming record of trustworthiness, as Realtors, we must face the adversarial client at times.

    A few minutes ago, I receive a voice mail from someone who, despite my best efforts to educate and assist, believes he does not need a Realtor. He is arrogant, pompous and rude. Truth is, I don’t need him.

    Right now, he is in front of a home he wants me to show him. I guess he can’t find anyone else, so is going through a list of Realtors. I haven’t talked to this guy in two months. He didn’t want to provide proof of funds to pay cash.

    All I can say, is good luck buddy! Not everyone is deserving of my time and expertise.

  25. Chris Griffith

    December 31, 2008 at 8:19 am

    I write a weekly column for a couple of local newspapers. I can tell you that many people just hate real estate agents, just to hate real estate agents.

    The comments that are on the column are nasty and mean. Some of these “consumers” actually think we just sit around all night making lists on how to screw them over.

    Paranoia. While I don’t doubt that there are some crappy agents out there, I am not one of them.

    There, I said it.

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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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