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How To Vibe-Right in Real Life and in Real Estate



Real Life Is About People and Relationships.

A single guy spies a single girl standing over there – inspecting exotic horderves.  Sensing his gaze, Tammy turns his way.  Smiles.  Then touches her red hair.

Bill smiles back, takes a drink of his drink, glides across the room and introduces himself.  Nice. Whee.

Things are vibing nicely. They’re both funny and smart.  She laughs and touches his forearm. He leans in, “So, are you seeing anyone?

Her twinkling blue eyes dim and her smile slumps.  She’s single, but she does date a guy named Johnny.  They aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend and both are free to see others, but because Bill asked a clumsy question, Tammy’s attention shifts from Bill to thoughts of Johnny.

If she answers “no“, is she being honest with Bill or disrespectful to Johnny, or both?

If she answers “yes” or “sort-of” , will Bill blow her off, get the wrong impression or cool his jets?

Who knows what will happen next?  What we do know is that Bill has dorked it up, making their hook-up and happily-ever-after harder.

The Real Estate Business Is Also About People and Relationships.

Tammy is looking good; prepared, savvy and motivated.  Today she’s holding an Open House Event from 2pm to 4pm.  It’s a bright afternoon, birds chirp-chirp, house hunters are out and about and Tammy’s excited.

As prospects and suspects flow through the home, Tammy chats and charms, asks smart questions, listens and shares appreciated answers.  Things are vibing nicely – yea!  Then she springs the question, “So, are you working with a REALTOR®?”

Thud! Sniffle. Boo hoo.

They all say “Yes“, which means no-go and bye-bye-opportunity for Tammy.

Tammy resets the thermostat, checks to make sure the back and side doors are locked, turns off the lights and leaves; wondering why everyone she meets is working with another agent.

How-Not-To Vibe-Right.

Bill and Tammy both have the same problem.  The real world and the real estate world are the same, both are about people and relationships, and these two are killing their good vibe and their own success by asking a question that does nothing to fan the fire of attraction or forward connection.  Bill and Tammy are asking blunt, clumsy and thoughtlessly worded questions.

Bill:  Are you seeing anyone?

Tammy:  Are you working with a REALTOR®?

Questions like these will usually cause undesired answers and actions.  It will cause the other person to feel guilty and uncertain about pursuing new adventures and relationships.

Or, as is common in the real estate business, it will give them a chance to conveniently Blow-You-Off, smothering any chance for you to get to know each other.  Civillians know that telling a real estate agent that they are working with another agent is like pressing the Holy Cross into the forehead of a Vampire or busting a silver cap in the ass of a Werewolf. They know saying “Yes” will kill the inquisition and agent follow-up; murdering your opportunity to nurture a relationship, serve or solve in the process.

In real life and in the real estate business, asking a “are you seeing anyone” direct-question is the kiss of death.  Don’t do it.  Instead, consider this…

How-To Vibe-Right.

The best and first option is to simply not ask the direct question.  There are plenty of other interesting and engaging indirect-questions a clever person could ask to uncover and discover if another person is in a committed relationship.  I’m not going to bore you with a laundry list of those types of questions because I know you’re clever.

The second option comes into play when you feel you have to ask.  The key to success in these cases is to ask the question, but use better words.

This is how I’d ask if I was Bill:  “Are you in a committed relationship?”

This is how I’d ask if I was Tammy:  “Are you currently committed to working with one REALTOR®?”

The reason I would ask this way is because my version of the question is hyper-focused on the word “commitment“, not fuzzy-focused on words like “are you seeing anyone” or “have you talked with or interacted with another agent“.  Because “commitment” is something most everyone takes seriously, unless they really are “committed“, they’ll answer honestly and say “no”.  Also, because (imho) my version is asked correct and clumsy free, the “no” answer is truthful and does no disrespect.  Because of this, they won’t have guilt feeling about others they have a uncommitted casual relationship with and nurturing a new and meaningful relationship is possible.

So, what do you think about my point of view?  I’ll confess, I may be wrong about this, but I’m not in doubt and I KNOW this; if you’re asking this question, “Are you working with a REALTOR®”, their fib answer is almost always “Yes”, when the reality isNo“.  Which means no hook-up, no relationship, no one to serve, no paycheck.

So if you want to vibe-right, nurture new relationships and succeed, focus on them, ask engaging and interesting questions, listen for clues, and most of all, don’t kill your success by asking klutzy and fuzzy questions.

Cheers, Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

Photo Credit

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. Fred Romano

    January 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Great post Ken, but why ask this question? Why not ask “if you are not interested in this home, can I assist you in finding others?”… Let them answer then determine your course of questioning.

    • Ken Brand

      January 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      True Fred, there are many conversationally correct and indirect questions that can be asked. Like your’s for example. Happy New Year Fred, hope it’s a great one for you.

  2. Jordan Gilbreath

    January 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Agreed! Being asked if you’re working with an agent gets a similar knee-jerk response as a shoe salesman asking if I need help finding anything. I say “no” just to get them to leave me alone! Thanks for this.

    • Ken Brand

      January 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for the comment. I’m with you. I like how they do it at Saks and Neimans, they tell you what’s on sale, then they ask you to call on them if you need them, then they excuse themselves. Much better.

  3. Bryan Thompson

    January 10, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Ken, you are right on. There is a definite vibe that Realtors set up with people, and those who get it will hang in there when the market is rough and those who don’t will continue to flounder. It’s really not just in real estate, but in anything we do. I struggled in sales for years. I didn’t think it was for me. For me, I never felt like my vibe came across natural. I spent 10 years as a pastor, where you do build up a vibe, but a VERY different kind. I felt funny when I felt like I was asking for a sale. But I have come to learn it’s always a vibe of some sort.

    I have known agents who know the vibe, and whether or not they’re trying to sell me a house, it’s invigorating to be around them. Whether they’re extroverts or introverts, you can always tell when they “Get” the vibe. Thanks for posting!

    • Ken Brand

      January 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks for your comment Bryan. All the best to you in the New Year:-)

  4. Real Estate Agent

    January 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Completely agree! It’s all about keeping doors open and relationships blossoming. In any service or sales industry (real estate being no exception!) customers want to be helped.

    • Ken Brand

      January 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks. If you’re a cool person in real life, you’re most likely going to be successful in the real estate business. Of course, the definition of “cool” is subjective, but you know what I mean. Cheers:-)

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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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