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Favors. Dollars. Dimes.



Jump Again by ~sakisc on deviantART


People view you as an expert and the “Go To Gal”.   You know “correct” is happening because people are picking up their phones, dialing your number and asking for your expert answers to their burning questions.  

Questions like:

What’s the deal with Obama’s $8,000 Tax Credit?

We’re sweat’n like swine.  I need digits for a certified A/C dude that can drop what ever they’re work’n on and haul ass over here to fix this piece of crap.

I’m getting hosed.  These bloodsuckers can’t get away with this.  I want to protest my property taxes and slap the stupid out of city hall.  How do I do that?

A “For Sale” sign just went up down the street.  Can you tell me what they’re asking?

I just got a notice from the Home Owners Association, bunch of damn Nazis, they say that converting my garage into a double-decker Bow-Wow Boarding Hotel isn’t allowed.  Do you have an attorney you could recommend?  I need a pit bull?

And other run of the mill “who”, “where”,  “how”, “when” type questions.  Kinds of questions that a connected, kick ass REALTOR would know the answer to.

Hallelujahs are in order.  People are calling YOU.  You’re NOT chasing, stalking or capturing anybody.  Beautiful.

While we’re on the subject of burning questions, I have one for you too.  Are you stepping over dollars to pick up dimes?

What do I mean? 

Let’s examine the mundane exchange – stepping over dollars.  Then we’ll imagineer the more magical exchange – picking up fist fulls.

The Mundane Exchange 

You’re busy and fretting over your red river of advertising expenses.  You’re hoping your ad’s payoff….someday, somehow.   You murmur a silent prayer, “Please dear lord, compel my expensive ad’s to make my phone ring.”  

Your phone rings.  Wow.  You’re kinda creeped out, but excited.  

A past client is calling to ask a question.  You listen lazy, thinking to yourself, “Damn, this isn’t the ad call I prayed for, these people won’t move for years.  This is a freaking interruption.”  

You answer their question in a rush.   They thank you.   You thank them for calling.  Click.

You return to your fretting, the business of bleeding out and tediously chasing complete strangers.  


You’ve heard the joke about the flood, a boat, a helicopter  and God, right?  You haven’t?  Now’s a good time – Click HERE to read the  joke.  It’s a 17 second read.

Ok, welcome back.  Let’s imagineer something smarter, free and supreme.

A More Magical Exchange

Your phone rings.  It’s Jean. A past client calling to ask a question.  You smile, straighten and focus. 

Jean asks a question.  You listen loudly and ask follow-up clarity questions.  Before answering, you reinforce Jean’s wise decision to call YOU.  Everyone loves to be appreciated, so you hug Jean tight.  You say something like, “Thanks for calling Jean, I know you could have called any number of  real estate agents, I appeciate you calling on me.”  Your words might be different, our result – the same.  Jean feels significant and appreciated – cool! 

You answer Jean’s question.  You chit-chat.  You’re attentive and waiting for “IT”.  You know “IT’s” coming.  

Predictably, “IT” happens.  Jean concludes with “Thank You”. 

At this precise moment you conjure up the Win-Win White Magic that sparks around the Natural Law Of Shared Favors.  This natural law states that when one good person does another good person a favor, the good person recieving the favor want’s to return the favor.  Isn’t this true with you?  (Plus, you rock the 3 People Principal at the same time)

This Win-Win White Magic isn’t conjured with exact words, it manifests in the presence of sharing favors.  

Here’s an example of a more magical exchange and incantation:

Jean:  “Thank You.”

Me:  “You’re welcome, call me any time, I appreciate you thinking of me.  You know, before I let you go, I’d consider it a huge return favor if you would recommend me to your friends and neighbors when ever they have real estate related questions or are thinking of making a move.  Would you be down with that?

Jean:  “Sure.”

Me:  “Thanks, you rule, that means a lot to me.   Of your friends and neighbors, who do you think is the next person to make a move?”

It’s that simple.  Your words may be different, our results the same.  We were asked a favor, we delivered a favor, we provided an opportunity for a return favor.  Everyone wins. Beautiful.

Remember to amplify the remarkable you, mail a handwritten note with two of your business cards. Do it immediately. Please:-)

Another question for you.  Wanna get even more magical?  Alright.  Do this next…

Jamba Juice Your Win-Win White Magic

Jambaed Win-Win is NOT for the under-achiever.  You aren’t one of those are you?  I didn’t think so.  Read on.

You know the person you just referred, the roofer, the painter, the decorator, the accountant, etc.   They appreciate referrals as much as you do.  The Win-Win White Magic of Shared Favors and  3 People Principle swirls around them too.

To Jamba your White Magic with the referred:  

Call them.  Chit-Chat.

Share that you’ve referred them and they should expect a call from your friend.  

Ask them to call you after they hear from your friend.

Wait for “IT”.  When you hear “IT”, ask for a return favor.

Them:  “Thank you.”

You:  “You’re welcome, I know you’ll do a great job for them.  It’s my pleasure.   I’d consider it a huge favor if you’d keep me in mind for any of your clients or friends who are thinking of making a move.  Would you be comfortable referring me or am I being too pushy?  Who among your friends is the next person that will be making a move? (Your words may be different, our winning results – the same)

Mail a handwritten note with two business cards.

This is brings us back too…

Stepping Over Dollars To Pick Up Dimes

Our metaphoric streets are littered with free opportunities for the open eyed, eared and minded.  It’s Ok and necessary to chase strangers, but open-wide and remember to speak magic.   It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy, it’s smart and it’s profitable.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know how it goes.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Dee

    March 13, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Great post! This reaffirms my commitment to helping other people for the sake of helping them and that will be reciprocated if they know you are genuine and not out for yourself. You can feel comfortable asking them for a favor, people love to do favors!

  2. Barbara Metzger

    March 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Good Job! Great message, easy read, easy to remember. Sounds like a classic win-win to me. THE best kind of deal. Very nice, thanks.

  3. Ken Brand

    March 14, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Dee & Barbara – Thanks for reading. Cheers:-)

  4. Matthew Kelly

    March 15, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Great post Ken! Reminds me of Barbara Robin in your office responding to a request I made via my facebook status a month or so ago for a reputable plumber in Spring. She responded literally minutes after I made the request which impressed the heck out of me. You have a nice group of folks in your office and I appreciate their help.

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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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