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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

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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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

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.



Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.



Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.



Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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