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Real Estate Solutions – Call With a Reason



Real Estate Online and Offline Solutions

Hate Cold Calling?

Stop calling with a motive and begin calling with solutions.

Your Website Doesn’t Always Convert

But it does provide opportunities; for example, if you’ve ever received a notification through your IDX solution that a phone number has been entered as well as a name, chances are that this client wants to be contacted. Actually, I guarantee this is a consumer that wants a reason to buy or sell. So why not blow them away with something special? Rather than leaping like a starving lion, why not take a more practical approach?

Impressions Last Forever- Especially the First One

Call the consumer within minutes of a notification- this is proven to work and waiting only leaves the shopper cold if they’ve moved on to other sites. But once you call, why not make it a service call? Using an assumptive approach to selling, you’re assuming the consumer wants to buy or sell, so rather than pounce, ask something that makes them important, involved, and part of the process.

Using a Text for Listing Info Feature?

You may be using them today, those text this home for more informationtechnologies, and here again, this service presents another unique opportunity to offer service to not only the listing client, but the shopping consumer. Again, calling the texting consumer in seconds or minutes is crucial to conversion success, and I also suggest using assumptive yet practical measures here as well to deliver a fantastic first impression.

A Few Script Ideas to Get You Started

“Hi, this is Agent, and I see you’re searching our site, I’m wondering how everything is going, and want to make sure you’re finding everything you need?”

“Hi! This is a service call from Brokerage and we’ve implimented a lot of new features to our search site, and I’m wondering what your thoughts are on how we could further your search experience?”

“Hi, I see you’re in front of our listing at 555 listing address and wondered if there were more questions I could answer?”

“Hi, this is Agent, and I see you’re in front of our listing, and I wondered if you might take just a minute to tell me what you thought of the curb appeal?”

“Hi, we see that you’re in front of our listing and wondered if you might take just a second and give me your impression of the home and how it stacks up to others in the neighborhood?”

The response can be one of two things, either the consumer is not finding everything they’re looking for and you’re now presented an opportunity to offer a solution, or they are enjoying your website or listing and are ready to go with questions, and they immediately see you as an agent with solutions, rather than the typical approach of “Hi want to see my listing?”

But I’m Busy

The success of real time service calls rather than sales calls depends on immediate attention of home shoppers. Conversion must be a team effort. So why not involve office staff to deliver real customer service in real time- this is the next level many seek having invested hours and money into new online and offline technology is practical uses that increase not only your service, reputation, as well as ROI.

Sellers Want to Know What Consumers Think

New technology brings buyers to sellers, but it also offers an opportunity to draw sellers with outstanding conversion. If a home is not selling and you can present more real time feedback from the actual consumer, you’re winning for the seller. If you’re not using technology in a fashion that builds a relationship, you’re only failing yourself.

A great example is that we all know that future neighbor sellers are voyeurs of neighboring listings- if one of these neighbors texts the property and you practiced these methods, you’ve now delivered an impression that others haven’t even thought of- thus a future fan. These same sellers will often traffic your website, imagine if they received this same courtesy call from your IDX- this is a win/win opportunity in cross pollinating customer service as part of your service offering as well as immediate real time live feedback to your sellers.

Forget the Scripts

Why not just mean it for a change? Why not throw out the motive, and simply call with a solution.

Offer real Customer Service- Be the Value.

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. Matt Stigliano

    August 24, 2008 at 2:04 pm


    You’re on fire today. This one hits home for me. I often feel like I’m calling and only trying to sell sell sell or buy buy buy. Reading this makes it clear to me that I’m not insane and what I consider the simple approach is not only easier to me (and how I like to do things), but also can see (now that’s it written right in front of me) how this can bring a buyer/seller into the conversation that we’re all trying to have with them. I guess I often feel that the scripts I hear and am told to use feel so forced and are “fishing” for the ultimate answer of “yes I will list/buy with you.” Now of course, I’m not stupid, we are “fishing” for that answer in a sense, but when you’re actually “fishing” for it, it makes it feel contrived. I like things to happen a bit more organically. Speak to them, get to know what they’re about…the rest will come without the hard sell. Its good to see that I’m not alone in the way I think/feel and its good to see that someone can put the bits of ideas and pieces of thinking into a concrete “how to” of sorts. With each post I read, I see more and more of who I am and what I want to be as an agent. Thanks.

  2. Kyle Louvar

    August 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Great piece Benn! We, Reply7, offer agents the text message marketing and lead generation solution. Many agents using our Reply7 service have realized the tremendous success of contacting consumers immediately. Our agents receive an instant lead every time a consumer sends a text message inquiry to their listing. It’s a great way to offered unparrelled customer service and generate new buyers. As you said, also a great listing solution to provide to sellers. Let the technology do the intitial work so you have more time to spend one-on-one with consumers and get them engaged in a meanful conversation that focuses on your ability to deliver outstanding service to them.

  3. Linsey

    September 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I think there is a place for a script. Knowing what to say is important. Heck, I practice how to pitch things to my kids so I get the right response. 🙂

    You can still have a plan and mean it. When I was coaching agents, one of the things I would remind them is to pay attention to that internal gut feeling. If you feel uncomfortable with your ‘script’, you can bet that the consumer will too.

    You’ve got to come from a place of genuine service and they’ll feel that too. It won’t feel like a pitch. As soon as it feels like a pitch – you’re off course. I love the feeling of making calls that seem easy and comfortable that convert into leads. I know that I’m doing just what I should be doing.

  4. Benn Rosales

    September 10, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Linsey, you are so correct, practice makes perfect, which is why I gave a few examples. I’ve found that the most simple approach leads to a longer conversation and higher conversion.

    I have used this method for a very long time and the cool thing that has happened time and time again is folks did get caught off guard, but that day or two days later a phone call came where they asked directly for me…

    Service calls rather than sales calls work.

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Benn, this is an old post of yours, but wanted to chime in and tell you are are so right about calling right away. Web 2.0, Gen Y and X er’s want what they want, when they want it right now. If they have left a phone number, call before their hand leaves the mouse.

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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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