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“Nice to meet you!” Oops.

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"Nice to meet you."  Oops. - The Stigliano Chronicles

Today I shared some band stories.

I stopped in the office to send off an offer and decided to spend the next few minutes in the office before I had to head out again. It was nice catching up with some of the agents as I hadn’t been in the office much lately. As happens when you put a bunch of agents together, stories started to come up. I thought I’d share one with you that I have found invaluable over the years.

Back in the day (I always wanted to use that phrase), we were touring the world and feeling like nothing could stop us. We were running from country to country and playing to crowds of 10,000 all on our own merits in Germany, the place we had made our adopted home. When we first started in Germany, we were small like anyone else and played in front of two drunk guys at the bar and maybe a few rats in the corner. That’s the way rock ‘n roll works. We paid our dues and rose to the top. In our rise, we met a guy at the German record label who was a big supporter of ours. He championed us when we released our new record and pushed to get the record label behind us. They eventually listened to him. His gut was right and we quickly ascended to rock royalty in Germany. I once even had Udo Lindenberg buy me a drink on my birthday. Sorry, I sometimes like to reminisce. During all of this, our champion at the record label, we’ll call him “King”, was by our side everywhere we went. He took us to dinners, bought us drinks, and made sure we made it to our interviews. I spent hours and hours with this man and we all got to know him and his wife quite well.

When you’re in a band traveling constantly from town to town in a different country everyday meeting different radio, video, record company, promoters, fans, etc. all the time, you tend to forget people’s names and sometimes, even their faces. Several of the guys in the band were masters at remembering, but when you play 14 nights in a row, even they could get hazy and let their memory slip. Of course, the music business is very much like our business. It’s about connecting, meeting, networking, and beer. Okay, maybe the beer part isn’t as much a part of real estate – at least not on the job. And it certainly doesn’t involve smashing guitars. Although, I’m here to tell you, the next time you have a frustrating day going back and forth negotiating with a bank on a short sale, go buy a guitar and get to work. You’ll love it.

The memory game.

I admit, my memory isn’t always the sharpest and it can take me a few moments to recognize someone, remember our last conversation, or know why or how I know them. I chalk that up to rock ‘n roll too. (When in doubt, blame rock ‘n roll – another hint I’d like to pass on to you.) Since I know my memory can be a bit rough around the edges, I’ve found ways to cope with it. This is what I’d like to pass on to you. I’m sure many of you have your own idiosyncrasies that you’ve learned to deal with, but this is the one that has served me well over the years and I hope you can find good use for it to.

Let’s get back to our German friend, King.

Months of touring under our belt and we’re still trucking along. King has risen in the ranks of the record label and now runs the whole thing in large part to his early successes with bands like us. We have a close relationship, but since he’s now a big deal at the label, we don’t see him as much anymore. One night in Berlin, he was scheduled to make an appearance. All of us looked forward to it and we spent hours in our dressing room meeting and greeting the many new faces at the label. The music industry probably has a bigger drop out rate than the real estate industry. We were catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. In walks King and his wife. King is a rather tall man with some very specific features that make him stand out in the first place, but this is a guy we know well. We all head over towards the door to greet him. One by one, the band members say their hellos until we get to our drummer (and no, this is not a “dumb” drummer joke) who says, “Nice to meet you, King!”

We were all slightly embarrassed, but the gaffe slipped by relatively unnoticed. We noticed, King didn’t seem to. In questioning the drummer later that night about it all, we discovered that he really didn’t recognize him at first, so he just assumed we were meeting yet another new member of the Universal Records team. That night, the four of us that had been doing this a little longer than the drummer (he was our second drummer) sat him down and taught him this:

When in doubt, never say anything that indicates whether you do or don’t know the person. Simply ask them how they’re doing. In our band the phrase was always the same, “Hey, how’s it going?” As you talk, the clues will likely come to you to give you the anwser to “who is this.”

It never gave away your position of knowing/not knowing the person and it was a friendly way to greet someone. Typically the next step involved getting them something to drink at which point we could quietly text our tour manager and ask “who is that?” It saved us from a lot of awkward situations and I still use it to this day. Although the words might not work for you – the theory always will.

photo courtesy of Rob Gallop

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    May 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Matt – I can relate to this. It seems I know a person’s name until the hug or handshake, then my memory goes somewhere else. I’ve never really figured out where it goes, it just wanders.

    My children and husband remember everything – authors of books, how the story end, directors of movies, everything, they must have a huge hard drive 🙂 I guess the kids don’t take after Mom.

    I use the same strategy as you – Hey, how are you? It’s been too long – anything until my memory comes back. It can be rather uncomfortable, until you realize, they may not remember either.

  2. Joe Loomer

    May 28, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Matt – you’ve hit me in the gut on this one buddy! My second-to-last assignment in the Navy was as the CTI Detailer. My job was to move 1,600 Navy linguists around the world, moving typically 1/3rd to 2/5s of the linguistic war fighting personnel every year. I made it a matter of personal pride to go out and meet these folks where they lived, and spent easily one week of every month deployed to wherever they where stationed. This month it would be San Diego and Monterey, next it would be Guam, Yokosuka, and Misawa (Japan). I met personally with about 1,200 of those Sailors, I figured if it was my task to make them pick up their families and move them to yet another crapheap on the far side of the world, for the Needs of The Navy, then I ought to at least have the cayoons to look them in the eye when I did it. I formed many relationships during that time, some that continue to help me in my current trade.

    Flash forward to three weeks ago, and I’m at a post-retirement party for a Master Chief and Great American, and this couple is sitting next to me smiling at me and chatting like I’m their long lost brother. Like a dumb-ass, I eventually reach out my hand and say “I’m Joe Loomer, by the way.” Seems I met them both several times over the course of my Detailer travels, and helped secure them a joint posting when it looked like they’d be split up for three years. I’d made a huge impression on them, and here they now didn’t know why I couldn’t remember it.

    To summarize, “Hey How You Doing?” is now MY mantra too. Although in my neck of the woods it’s more like “Howdy Y’all.”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Lani at Agent Genius

    May 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Matt, I have the opposite problem- I remember people (names not so much, but faces always, no matter how brief the meeting). I only recently realized that when someone doesn’t remember me that it is THEIR fault, not mine. I share this because your tip about not indicating whether or not you’ve met is dead on as I used to get quite upset when someone didn’t recall meeting me and I felt that *I* hadn’t left an impression on *them*. Now I realize not everyone has a sharp memory and that’s their fault, but it used to cause quite insult to me.

    Being active in online social networking can either complicate or enhance this process of remembering names because you recognize people’s avatars and either (1) see them out of context and not remember why you recognize them or (2) see them in person and feel as if you’re quite familiar with them.

    When President George W Bush was the Governor of Texas, he spent a great deal of time underground at the capital (as the support staff works on the basement level) and started many days out with walking from office to office saying hello- he remembered every person’s name down to the janitorial staff and inquired about personal details he recalled from spouses to dogs. No, he didn’t have an aide with him whispering intel into his ear, he was simply a natural connector and remembered the details. I aspire to be that but in the future but for now will use your tip to never indicate verbally whether I’ve met someone!

  4. Matt Stigliano

    May 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Paula – My wife is like that. She remembers all the details. It’s nice to hear that I’m not alone. I’m okay with people not remembering my name at first (of course if I’m with you for three days in a row, I sure hope you would!). I actually have a gold record in my collection with the incorrect name on it. This from people I knew quite well. They sent me a replacement name for it, so I keep both of them. It made me laugh.

    Joe – I can imagine you had a lot of people to remember and talk to at any given time. It’s definitely something I’m trying to improve in myself, but it does take work – need to re-wire the brain to function differently. I’m like Paula, the handshake is when it slips. I’ve been trying to repeat names or when I’m on the phone jot it down as we speak. Although the other day, while ending a call with a guy named Peter, I slipped and said Paul anyway. At least I didn’t call him Mary.

    Lani – And the insult of it all is what scares me. What says “you’re not important to me” more than not remembering someone’s name. Instantly, you’ve created a disappointment in someone and it can be quite dangerous in a profession like this. That’s why I am working on ways to get over this, but in the meantime, my “fix” seems to work well most of the time.

    As for the comment of avatars I often wonder what will happen when I meet some of the online folks I know. Will I be disappointed if @housechick doesn’t wear a cape? Will I not recognize @Ines without a mojito? What if @respres wore a wig, would I still know him? You I’d probably recognize (I better), but even if I didn’t I’d recognize your voice immediately as most of what I “know” about you is your voice.

    Interesting fact about Bush that I never knew. We always tried to do that same sort of stuff when we did tours, meeting different people on crews, bus drivers, promoters – we always tried to be on a first name basis with all of them, some bands never do and they’re missing out on some great people. One of our bus drivers, Brian, was a great man and always took good care of me. He died several years later while driving the band Reef around (carbon monoxide while he was sleeping). I remember getting emails from his family because they knew him and I were close when we toured with him driving. The amount of times that guy listened to me when I was having a problem…those are the relationships I’ll always remember from tour.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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