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Self Shh! Is Suicidal



Do Not Self Shh! Conversate.

Do you ever feel like you’re working harder than a Lucifer humming bird flaps her wings and your success is as gravity bound as a Chinstrap Penguin? Odds are, you’re a victim of Self-Suicidal Shoushing. If you continue self imposed silence, personal things wilt and eventually die. Things like your spirit, your faith, your bank account and your real estate career.

Worry not. Vibrant success can be created, amplified and Miracle Grown by engaging in daily purposeful personal conversations. Not cyber contact or direct mail contact! Purposeful personal conversations that connect and thicken relationships. Conversations that make others feel significant. Conversations that lead to listing presentation invitations, buyer representations, referrals and recommendations.

Let me ask…

“How many interactive tuned-in, in-person conversations do you have in a day?” defines the word “converse” like this:

1. to talk informally with another or others; exchange views, opinions, et., by talking.

2. to maintain a familiar association.

3. familiar discourse or talk; conversation.

So how many people do you converse with in a day? Not Email, direct mail, Twitter, Text or Facebook. I’m talking about personal one-on-one, verbal conversations, in-person or on the phone. How many of those daily conversations include you listening with cat eared intent. Cat eared to crystal clear hear. Intent to listen hard. Intent to connect. Intent to make the other feel significant. Intent to discover what another needs, wants and desires.

Financial success and fun begins and ends with personal contact and rich conversation. If you’re not having rich, on-purpose, in-person conversations (with civilians not colleagues) every day, you’re strangling your success. If your daily conversations are tainted with aimless yammering, me, me, me and yada, yada, yada, you’re poisoning your performance.

Consider This…

Impressive flight begins with personal, interactive contact. Not every form of contact is equal. There are three types of contact:

1. The VERY Best Contact = Face to Face Contact

2. Second Best Contact = Telephonic Voice to Voice Contact

3. The Rest – Email, Video Mail, Text, Twitter, Direct Mail, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

Contact Leads To Conversation.

When conversation takes place, like bees buzz, possibilities bloom. Magical wonders manifest when two people start talking, especially if one of them is listening with cat eared intent. Email, direct mail, twitter, Facebook and texting are flaccid conversation mediums and fantastic marketing sparks that lead to one-on-one conversation – but alas, they are not a replacement for in-person, one-on-one conversation is everything.

Coversation Leads To Connection.

The more intently we listen, the better questions we ask, the more we understand each other. The more we understand each other the more we appreciate each other. As we discover and appreciate each other, our connections deepen. Our relationships thicken and colorize as we uncover multiple levels of mutual interest and importance.

Connection Leads To Discovery.

As our conversational connection deepens, so does our trust, so does our sharing. We discover anothers dreams, desires, unmet needs, challenges, likes and dislikes. Through personal conversation we discover how we can help, support or serve. The Golden Rule 2.0 is possible. “Treat others at they want to be treated.”

Discovery Leads To Service/Help.

This part is important. When I speak about service and help, I’m not suggesting you focus on listing and selling real estate. Relationships are built on trust, sharing and attraction. The goal is to be the “Go To Gal/Guy” for all things community, family, home, real estate, entertainment, lifestyle. By providing solutions, services, help and recommendations for unmet needs, you become the de-facto “Top Of Mind” real estate agent for them and the referred real estate agent to their friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, relatives, etc.

Specifically, by engaging in one-on-one, in-person conversation, listening intently and being curious engaged, you will discover how you can help and serve. Examples might include, recommendations for youth sports leagues for their kids, a cleaning service, a restaurant recommendation, a house of worship recommendation, the perfect hotel in the city they will vacation in next month, the dry cleaner that doesn’t break buttons, the lawn maintenance crew that shows up, the newly released movie, an interesting blog post on something they care about, a color copy of a relevant article you read in a magazine…..whatever (ummm, keep it legal).

When providing information/service/help you never have to mention real estate, simply deliver it wrapped in your Real Estate Agent wrapper. Example: Email an article, link, etc., your Real Estate Agent email signature is your wrapper. If you mail something, add a couple of business cards, your stationary/logoed envelope is your real estate agent wrapper.

Always follow up your emailed or snail mailed information with a phone call – this phone call begins the Conversation Circle all over again.

I suggest your purpose in this real estate life is to have conversations so you can help people with anything and everything. Do that and you’ll earn your way to everything you want.

Service/Help Leads To Hired or Referred.

The fun part. By helping, serving and supporting you grow a natural bouquet of appreciation, attraction, trust and confidence. You will brain tattoo your Technicolor self in “Top Of Mind Awareness Indelible Ink” into their subconscious. When they or their friends, family, neighbors, co-workers or relatives need information, especially real estate information/service/help, you will be the first person they think of.


In addition to all the mid-term benefits, creating conversational interaction is the premier method for conjuring “Collission Principal” magic. Positioning yourself in the direct path of someone asking you a real estate related question, or shared referral. You see, people are way to busy to pick up the phone and call you, but if you call them, they will gladly ask the question, extend an invitation or refer you to a friend.

The Beginning…

It’s a new year. It’s simple. Have more conversations every day.

Does this make sense?

Will you have more conversations?

How many on purpose per day?

When will you start?

Let me know how it goes? Rock on!


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. Vicki Moore

    January 16, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I do – every day but probably not enough. I’m working on it!

  2. Brandie Young

    January 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hi Ken – I think your advice is solid. It’s highly applicable to any service provider. I really keyed in on “purposeful” conversations. Speaking for only myself, sometimes all the tools at my fingertips (email, internet, etc.) can cause me to be a little ADD or make me believe I can multi task. The truth is, if you’re a mile wide, you can only be an inch deep. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Ken Brand

    January 18, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Vickie – Every day’s a new day. Onward Icons:-) thanks.

    Brandie – Love that, ” A mile wide and an inch deep”. Perfect. I have observed that ADD is a very common trait among top performers in real estate, pointing it pays off. Cheers and thanks.

  4. Carson Coots

    January 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Ken – Inspiring words. I will start to be more thoughtful about my personal contacts. It can be tough when you work from home to get that face to face interaction on a daily basis. I need to utilize my phone more also.

  5. Ken Brand

    January 23, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Carson, some many things suck our time and attention, it’s all about the people, people, people.
    Rock ON.

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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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