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As I reported this week, Cory Miller and Brian Gardner, famed WordPress theme designers partnered to create a new online premium theme universe called

The new venue launches with 5 New Premium themes: here’s the release

=========================================– Premium WordPress Themes
Email Newsletter
Jan. 24, 2008


The day has arrived … iThemes has officially launched and you are one of the first to know about it!

With the launch, we’re proud to announce our first theme series entitled Essence, a set of 5 themes designed to look, feel and function like a tradition website, but powered by WordPress.

Each of the 5 themes in the Essence Series includes:

* Static home page
* 7 inside page layouts
* Elegant look and feel of traditional website
* Integrated blog templates
* Two header options: Text or graphic

We designed the theme series with small businesses in mind … those wanting to leverage the search engine value and features of WordPress, but with the polished, refined design of a typical website. There’s so much more to the Essence series that we think you just need to test it out right now at:

As promised … for those who signed up for the email launch, we’re offering a 25% discount until Thursday, Jan. 31 (that’s 7 days) on all Essence themes by simply entering in this coupon code: LAUNCH.

–Cory Miller

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Cory Miller

    January 24, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Benn, thanks so much again for covering our work at …. I hope many people will take advantage of our launch discount. Thanks for offering it to your readers.

  2. Todd Carpenter

    January 24, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Cory Miller is awesome. I use his designs for several blogs, including the blog I built for RE Bar Camp. He’s a good designer, but I think he must be an even better coder. So many times, I find a cool theme to play with, only to discover it’s full of bugs. Cory’s code is solid.

  3. Benn Rosales

    January 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Cory, no problem, I think its great that site owners are getting higher end options. We see the potential of wordpress and its CMS use, and until designers actually begin getting some coin for it, I cannot see how it will advace very far, very quickly. I’m happy to witness and report the evolution- so long as the costs to own highend themes remain fair and your offering is spot on.

  4. Daniel Rothamel

    January 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm


    That was close. I was afraid I would like those themes more than Revolution (which I just paid for).

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm


  6. kleimer

    February 15, 2008 at 1:08 am

    A cool ang great theme.

  7. Sarasota

    February 21, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Nice work, I’ll be looking into these when I switch my site over.

  8. Gary Webber from Bad Credit Remortgage Guild

    February 25, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I absolutely love the fresh, clean Web 2.0 design of the site. Very nice.

    If I were them though I would change the link that says “Purchase” in the navigation to “Themes” or “Themes / Purchase”. If you land on a sub-page, such as “About” then it’s not obvious how to get to the actual themes to see them.

    The themes look great. I wish you every success – it can’t be an easy niche to work, but I love a blog that looks good as well as having great content. My favourite design of all is the really simple one used on my favourite celebrity blog ( – big images and clean easy text. Very smart.

    That reminds me that I need to design the theme for our site’s blog this week. Unfortunately we’re using Blog.NET because we’re on .NET – so I can’t use one of your nice WordPress themes!

    – Gary Webber

  9. Allan Thomas

    May 15, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Nice theme. Keep it up.

  10. winkbingo

    June 2, 2008 at 3:58 am

    i agree this is a great theme and one that i will be using for my latest website

  11. Alan Daniels

    July 6, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    The layouts and themes are very streamline and have been long due.

  12. Maria Gudelis

    July 17, 2008 at 12:06 am

    I’ve been looking for a more real estate oriented theme for my site…thanks for the info on this theme, it looks perfect, modern and clean – will check it out! Cheers, Maria

  13. No Bull Bingo

    September 20, 2010 at 8:18 am

    iThemes i think was the best wordpress theme i had ever seen its really looks an website professional, thanks for sharing this moment with us.

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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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