Connect with us

How to

Letting Go, Finding the Right Fit and Taking the Time to Train



Potty trainingLast week, I defined a TEAM as any two or more people working together to accomplish more together than one person can accomplish alone. Since there are so many examples of teams, I am not focusing on one way but the principals involved that will apply to any size or shape.

Letting Go

REALTORS like to be in control. Letting go and trusting people to perform and treat your clients the way you do is not easy.However, it is possible. You can not be everywhere and do everything if your business is going to continue to grow. Something will suffer, your marriage, your family, your health, or your clients.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and what you love to do is important when you begin to realize you need help. I am not a detailed person but more of a “big picture” person.  So I hire to my weakness which is a person who enjoys all the little details.

When I hear agents complain they are over-whelmed, I encourage them to hire someone to help them even if it is part time.

What I often hear is, “I can do it faster myself.”

Yes, you probably can do it faster but all those little ‘faster myself’ tasks add up.

Trust & Training

When you first hire your new assistant you have high expectations the person will do a good job.  However they can only fulfill your expectations if you invest in training.

Training a new person takes a tremendous amount of work. You cannot expect a new team member to automatically know how to do what you do according to your standards and objectives without training them.

Some agents in my offices over the years, played Russian Roulette with all the assistants they keep going through. What I saw after observing this for years was the problem was not the new person but the REALTOR not spending the time in the beginning to train them.

The Right Fit

I got lucky when I hired my first assistant, as Gary Keller had yet to write The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and I went with a “gut” feeling.  We worked together for the next 16 years. The next assistant I hired was very competent, and had previously been a assistant on a local real estate team, so I “assumed” very little training would be necessary.

Boy was I wrong.

Over the years, I have learned to use the online DISC test before hiring any team members, but because of this persons prior experience I neglected this.  The DISC is a diagnostic test that reveals insights into a person’s personality.

If and when there is something wrong on a team, everyone knows on the team knows it. If you as the team leader put off dealing with it, you will risk loosing the respect of the whole team.

Letting someone go, is not easy for me. It is not in my nature to hurt people but I had to step up and do it for the benefit of the whole team.

Immediately, the joy and synergy of the team came back.

Empowering Them

Every person on a team needs to feel valued. If you are micro-managing  (note the operative word here is micro and not managing) a team member and not allowing them to excel in their strengths they feel insecure, unsure and unfulfilled.

If you hire the right person, and train them properly, let them go and empower them they will take pride in their work and know they are a valuable asset to the team.  You will be free to do the activities in real estate you love and will have more time for your family and personal life.

Building a team takes a tremendous amount of work.  The key things to remember out of this post:
1)    Hire the right person
2)    Train them properly
3)    Let them do their jobs, manage but don’t micr0-manage

Flickr Photo Credit

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

Continue Reading


  1. Erica Ramus

    March 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Good post Missy. I have a problem delegating still. And when I do delegate and something is not done right or to my standards…. well I hate it. I also hate letting someone go. Big sigh.

  2. Ken Brand

    March 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    There’s a thirst for candid, here’s how it is, experience and perspective. This is a great share, thanks.

  3. Missy Caulk

    March 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Erica, I think most REALTORS, independent contractors struggle with it. But, when you find the right person it really is very freeing.

    Ken, 🙂

  4. Jim Gatos

    March 17, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Genius.. This article is simply genius… Any of my future team mates start to argue with me, and I’ll show them the picture of the little girl in the “potty”… LOL

  5. Erion Shehaj

    March 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Hi Missy

    I would be curious to know how you go about hiring someone more in detail. Do you usually go for people that are referred to you, classified ads, both?

    I’ve always found hiring the right people, one of the hardest real estate tasks in my career.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Missy

    March 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Erion, most of the time they find me. One of my newest buyer agents called me up and begged. Seriously…I told her ok, we can try it for 3 months. She has done fabulous!

    One time I went through our MLS Agent Roster, and picked out agents who were selling 2-3 million a year and sent them a letter. An agent responded, I interviewed her, had her take the DISC, went over how we do lead generation and she joined. Turns out she doesn’t love calling the leads, as she said her stomach ties up in knots. But, she is still one the team.
    Another buyer agent on my team converts them for her and gets a 200.00 or upwards amount when it closes. So it worked.

    Two other buyer agents were referred to me.

    One was a past client.

    I have not run a craigslist ad. Getting ready to blog on hiring another one, and see if that pops. I’ll let ya know how that works out.

    I do know agents that have used craigslist to hire Assistants and of the 120 responses she received, most were engineers and/or way over qualified.

    I really love the DISC test and as you can see from my post, when I failed to use it, it was a big opps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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!

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!