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Real estate blogging and digital marcom – is it all really a time suck?

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The short answer is no. The detailed answer is simple. Real estate professionals spend thousands per year to get in front of clients and potential clients. Having a heart to heart or wallet to wallet conversation with a potential home buyer or seller is why you get out of bed each morning.

If a home seller asked you about listing their home, would you print off some article you read online and and shove it in their face and walk away? No, you would talk to them for as long as you could, you would attempt to earn their trust, and you would ask for the appointment or go all in and ask for the listing.

Many attempt real estate blogging and take advantage of canned content, and I would relate this activity to the above- shoving a so-called piece of content in their face and walking away. There’s nothing to it, there is no attempt at anything, and your potential client walks away.

As I said, you spend thousands per year on the the off chance of meeting a potential client, yet somehow an hour or two a week to sit down and have a heart to heart with buyers and sellers escapes even those with the best of intentions.

In great market conditions, writing may have seemed more complicated when all you had to say was how easy it is to buy and sell a property, but today, that’s all changed. This economy has given way to virtually thousands of topics impacting all local markets around the country. One great example would be the downward pressure of banks wanting 20% down minimums. Don’t copy a news story, rather, if you’re truly the expert, or have them at your disposal, this is one of many many opportunities to engage both buyers and sellers looking for answers.

Many argue that because you blog doesn’t mean consumers or Google will come, but I would argue that sitting it out and doing nothing insures that fact. It takes a few hours a week to get a great blog humming, but approached with the intention of sitting down with potential clients for a one-on-one chat via your blog has value and meaning, and it’s your best foot forward in this new social economy. It’s conversation for your Twitter fans, as well as your Facebook fans, it’s genuine targeted traffic, it’s real and it’s meaningful.

If sitting down a few hours a week to discuss issues that impact home buyers and sellers is a time suck for you, then I’m not sure that a communications tool like a blog will help you.

However, if you do get this, and you understand the fundamentals of the conversation I’m having with you right now, then I applaud you and wish you well. I hope you’ll drop me an email and invite me for a visit to your real estate blog. Should you have questions you’re shy about asking, I certainly invite you to drop me an email- otherwise, drop us a comment and let AG readers help…

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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Andrew McKay

    February 20, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Benn, I know I’ve bored people with these facts before but anyway I moved to Wasaga Beach Canada ( population 16,000, approx 350 homes sold per year and 80 to 90 agents) in November 2007. I got my real estate license in August 2008 just as the credit crunch hit and spent 6 months (dis)believing my brokers training methods would work; door knocking, wearing a badge in the store ( I never did this) networking through clubs etc ( never did this either.)
    Started the blog in April 2008 via the Real Estate Tomato and from then on rightly or wrongly all my prospecting is on line. Obviously I meet people socially who may ask what I do but I’m not “That Guy” handing out 10 business cards a day or even 20 if I give 2 to each person so they can give one to a friend:)

    Number 1 I enjoy it and this makes the commitment to try and do it properly easier; I have to watch my sarcastic English sense of humour though as my writing is not skilled enough to convey it correctly.

    Number 2 for me it works. I am very cynical of the self congratulatory nature of Real Estate awards but as a simple measure I was number 4 in an office of 23 agents in 2010 all with more experience than me and all having lived in the town a lot longer.

    Number 3 it differentiates me from 99.9% of local agents who rely on the more traditional marketing techniques and that gets people talking to me.

    I just wanted to add this rather long comment to confirm in my case that real estate blogging is not a time waste and give a real life example to agree with your post.

    Also there has been a tipping point. Since January the number of on line enquiries has shot up.
    Last year was ok but now the flow of potential clients is fairly constant day to day and I think the 18 months ground work since April 2008 has suddenly broken the dam so it isn’t a quick fix/magic bullet but IT DOES WORK.

    Apologies for rambling on and please do swing by wasagabeachtalking.com

    Andrew

  2. Andrew McKay

    February 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

    PS I moved to Wasaga Beach from London England and the only people I knew in town were my wife and daughter so really did start from ground zero and hadn’t work in real estate before.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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