Connect with us

How to

REALTORS Should Know Better

If nothing else, be a better Googler than your clients Here’s a tip – subscribe to the email newsletters or RSS feeds for all as many groups in your local market that discuss pertinent or peripherally relevant real estate matters. … My market is blessed to have a very active local blogosphere – the television news stations are on Twitter, the editor of one of the local weekies is on Twitter as well, another weekly has actively embraced blogging for a while … every market is different, but every market has information waiting to be digested, analyzed, and put into context for our clients.



Some of You May Know

Pulled from the drafts, thanks to some inspiration … Some of you may know that I’ve been sitting on a Group for the National Association of Realtors tasked with Realtor Professionalism, or, what should it take to be/come a REALTOR? Education, experience, apprenticeships, these have all been discussed, on and offline by many professional (meaning this is our career, not our shared hobby) REALTORS for years.

One component of any conversation about what a Realtor should know that never seems to fade away is this – Good Realtors should know better and should know more than their customers and clients. Know more about EVERYTHING local (as well as state and nationwide) that is applicable to real estate. And most importantly, embrace the “be the source of the source” concept; it’s impossible to know it all, but knowing where to send your clients so that they can educate themselves is key.

A few examples:

  • What’s going on there?
  • How long has that building been vacant?
  • Where are the local music venues?
  • Why does this area smell funny? (“it’s part of the local charm” doesn’t fly).
  • Are they ever going to widen this road?
  • Why are these buildings all (fill in the blank)? Answer: they rezoned this a few years ago to drive University development into this corridor.
  • Why is there so little parking? Answer: in an attempt to drive (get it?) people to use alternative transportation, developers have to put in only 1/2 parking space for every one unit.

If nothing else, be a better Googler than your clients.

Here’s a Tip (or Two)

Subscribe to the email newsletters or RSS feeds for all as many groups in your local market that discuss pertinent or peripherally relevant real estate matters. For instance – pro- and no-growth groups, any other local news or news-blogs or transportation blogs or anti-development blogs/sites.

Our clients demand (whether they outwardly know it or admit it to themselves or us) for us to know more than they do – so do it!

My market is blessed to have a very active local blogosphere – the television news stations are on Twitter, the editor of one of the local weekies is on Twitter as well, another weekly has actively embraced blogging for a while … every market is different, but every market has information waiting to be digested, analyzed, and put into context for our clients.

Another tip – Encourage your local city councilors or members of the Board of Supervisors to blog – teach them how to do it. (Our mayor blogs!)

Here are some of the feeds/ subscriptions to which I subscribe locally:

Of paramount importance is this – be confident saying “I DON’T KNOW … but I’ll find out.” Your clients will respect you and you won’t look like an ignorant/incompetent fool.

Lastly, get involved. Get on a committee that discusses affordable housing, economic development, zoning – something that involves your community (it all comes back to real estate eventually) – you’ll know more and eventually be able to play the role that our clients (should) expect.

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

Continue Reading


  1. Lisa Sanderson

    October 28, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Great tips, Jim. My fav is, of course, the last paragraph…Get Involved. Learning why things are the way they are from the inside out exponentially increases your knowledge and value to your clients.

  2. Missy Caulk

    October 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Jim, I love getting local updates from News services in the Detroit Metro Area. Finally they are following me.

    Currently MLS Chair at our local board and on the Board of Directors. So I agree Realtors need to get involved in local committees.

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!