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New Way to Be Competent in Today’s Real Estate Market



More Foreclosure Related Transactions

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot more foreclosure-esque real estate transactions (bank owned, FHA/VA Repo, Short Sale …) happening lately… at least in my neck of the woods. It is getting to the point where we are closing at least one to two foreclosure-related properties a month (buyer/seller) – in ADDITION to the “regular” ones we close.

Bank owned deals aren’t so bad, but the short sales are massive amounts of dain bramage. Recently, it has gotten to the point where Derek and I could not avoid them any longer. But we sure as heck didn’t know how to effectively deal with them, either.

And the last thing that the real estate market needs is a bunch of real estate agents who know NOTHING about short sales out there taking listings that are SHORT SALES. These homeowners are in enough of a mess. They don’t need a “regular” real estate agent. They don’t even need a “great” real estate agent. They need someone who knows what the heck they are doing when it comes to short sales.

We figured that we need to be competent in ANY market that we work in so, Derek and I decided that we needed to learn more about short sales to survive in this market.

Becoming Better Educated

We went to all the free title company classes about effectively listing and negotiating short sales. They were a little helpful, but not enough. We wanted more.

Finally we found a program that we thought would help us … and MAN! It was one of the best investments that we ever made in our Real Estate education and business. Now, normally I don’t jump around and do a dance about a product or service (well, unless it’s Real Estate Shows) but here is an exception… so I am taking this time to share our experience.

Certified Distressed Property Experts

“Stop Walking Away From Business you can earn commissions and help homeowners in the process (on the deals other agents don’t know how to handle).” – CDPE Website

Derek and I just finished a 3 month course, and are now Certified Distressed Property Experts©. This was a six 2-hour per session course about how to effectively LIST and SELL a short sale listing. We got an information packed manual and a whole notebook of duplicate able and customizable forms and worksheets designed to help streamline the short sale process.

But What Did We Learn?

I think my brain was going to explode during each session with all the awesome information/statistics/tips, so instead of making this post EVEN LONGER, here are some of the highlights of the class:

This course helped us understand and really identify the difference between a DISTRESSED Seller who NEEDS to sell and a DISENCHANTED homeowner who just WANTS to sell. A short sale is not an option for the latter.

We also got great tools for full qualifying the people and properties that we may work with:

  • Distressed Seller: Why are they distressed? The Top 16 reasons why a homeowner is distressed include: Rate adjustment, loss of job, death, divorce and incarceration. Where are they at in the foreclosure process? Where they are in this process determines HOW and IF we even get to work with them.
  • Distressed Property: What are the economic and physical factors that are contributing to the distress? Identifying ALL these factors will help you better negotiate the short sale with their lender.

The CDPE courses also gave us GREAT insight to the emotional situations surrounding distressed sellers, and gave us tools to help us be appropriately compassionate, understanding and patient.

… and we also learned how to apply the same compassion, understanding and patience to the people at the loss mitigation departments of the mortgage banks that we work with. And that little piece of information has paid off in GOLD. The minute we started asking helping-focused questions to the people on the other end of the phone … we started getting STAR treatment. To the negotiator – or whomever we speak to at the mortgage company, we say:

“I understand that you are probably buried in work, so we made sure that we sent over a complete short sale packet for 123 Main Street (both via fax and USPS) to make it as easy as possible for you. WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO TO HELP YOU get our file processed and closed as soon as possible?”

I’m telling you! It works WAY Better than, “WHAT?!?!? You want me to fax that *!?%*?! packet AGAIN?? You people are the most inadequate people on the planet!!” (You can THINK it, but just don’t say it …)

There is an astronomical turn-over rate at these places, and we need to be PREPARED to have your file “transferred” at least once during the process.

Other things that we discussed were:

  • How to put together a bullet-proof short sale package and what verbiage to use when negotiating with banks.
  • How to augment your current business by helping distressed sellers short-sale their home … without engulfing all of your time and energy.
  • How NOT to get raked over the coals by the lenders and actually get paid a decent commission to LIST and SELL short sales

How the Certified Distressed Property Designation Impacted Our Business

Even BEFORE we finished the course, we were seeing results:

  • We negotiated and closed a short sale before our seller even missed a payment (OMG!) and were paid a 6% commission (we co-oped 3% to the Buyer Agent) AND got all our transaction fees covered, as well.
  • We successfully extended the foreclosure dates on 3 distressed listings by 6 Months!
  • We comprehensively educated all of our “distressed sellers” regarding the entire short sale process, which has de-stressed them enough to work WITH us to get things done in a timely manner.

We have found that the Certified Distressed Property Expert Designation is already helping our business. We are now short sale expert real estate agents who can competently work with distressed properties, and can take this competence to make our business grow even further.

If you are seeing an influx in distressed properties in your market, and would like to become more competent in short sales … and better your business in the current market … Then check out the Distressed Property Expert Certification website, or call: 1-800-482-0335

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  1. Jim Gatos

    November 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I became a “Certified Foreclosure Prevention Consultant” through Roger Butcher and his “” website. I had 2 success and one failed short sale. I had to take ALL this information and then let do the short sales. They keep one percent.

    I am going to try a short sale lawyer in my market area and see what they do. Other agents swear by them and I don’t have to give up the one percent. Besides they have a great track record.

    Sometimes those certificates mean nothing. Roger told me in Mass and Colorado he can’t do loss mitigation because the laws are so stringent if the homeowner doesn’t want to pay us for our work they can legally NOT pay…

  2. Bob Wilson

    November 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I’ve been doing short sales for a long time. The last two days have been pure hell with one lender and 5 different files.

    Get the lender employees to take the course and then it will make a difference. The biggest problem isnt the agent anymore, it’s the moving target that is the way some lenders process short sales.

  3. Russell Shaw

    November 6, 2008 at 12:51 am

    VERY nice post, Mariana. Excellent points. I believe that short sales *are* the future and that they will become much much easier for agents to successfully complete.

    We don’t count them as escrows until we get the approval from the lender but currently have 20 files that have been submitted to the lenders.

  4. Mariana

    November 6, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Jim – ALL certifications/designations mean nothing. It is the education that it takes to GET them, and what you DO with them… THAT is what matters.

    With the CDPE designation, I pay NO ONE a fee – not the company, not a lawyer … no one. The courses have taught us how to be competent without having to solicit the services of others.

    I am in Colorado, and I NEVER charge my clients for my services – whether the home SELLS or they figure out a way to stay in it.

  5. Mariana

    November 6, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Bob – We are professionals, and the folks at the banks we work with do not need any kind of professional experience – and I doubt they are paid well either. Sad but true.

    Russell – Thanks! We don’t “count” them until we have full approval from the lender … and even THEN…

  6. Steve Simon

    November 8, 2008 at 9:50 am

    All designations started out the same way as a method to build some level of exclusivity for those that were already there; while building an enterprise to designate future applicants. The by-product (if you’re lucky) is that after a while the courses required to receive the designation actually do improve and take on substance.
    After doing a few deals this and last year I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty:
    Each lender that holds a lien has a unique way of doing things,
    Some lenders will continue to market and hope while they leave your offer in limbo,
    Many of the lien holder’s staff are inexperienced,
    Most of the above are working way to many files to be comfortable,
    90 percent will chew on commissions until what’s left is nothing to right home about…
    The above being said, in my area that is pretty much the only “Play” in the game!

  7. Paula Henry

    November 8, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Mariana – This is excellent information. I started studying short sales through America’s Home Rescue about 2 1/2 years ago. Knowing the ins and outs of “how” has helped me close every one I have had a contract on this year.

    Today’s environment is definately a lot easier to negotiate short sales than 2 years ago when banks were scrambling to get their loss mit departments back.

    I do not charge my clients, EVER! I have one now where the clients paid someone previously $700.00 (for what I do not know).

    One thing you touched on which is crucial – if agents do not know how to do a short sale they should stay away. A recent closing narowly escaped foreclosure, because the home had been on the market for 9 months without showings or an offer. It was priced too high to be a short sale. Agents must know how the banks work and what they will and will not accept.

    Sorry to take so much space 🙂

  8. Mariana

    November 9, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Steve – What I like about this designation is that it fully addressed EVERYTHING that you mentioned, and what we have learned has gotten us QUICK responses and MORE Commissions.

    Paula – I get SO frustrated when I see a pre-forclosure home sitting on the market overpriced by and under educated agent.

  9. Derec Shuler

    November 11, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Mariana, thanks for promoting the importance of having an expert handle these transactions. I’ve gone through the program and there’s so much information I feel it’s a disservice to attempt to handle this without having this specific education.

    Are you guys using a negotiator or handling that yourselves? Best, Derec

  10. Bill Lublin

    February 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    @Mizzle Awesome post – After serving as the Chair of NAR’s Short Sale Work Group and spending the last 21 years selling REO’s I can tell you that you made a couple of great points – the most important of which might be that is you don;t get the people at the lender on your side, you make your job that much harder.
    I can also tell you , that during the Work Group’s communications with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and other lenders, the third party short sale “facilitators” do nothing that a well educated and aggressive agent shouldn’t be doing for their client.
    Kudos for going out and obtaining the additional training to do the right job for the time and for your clients!

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.



Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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