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There is Gold in Your Pipeline



What is a Pipeline?

My first Broker taught me about the Real Estate Pipeline. The Pipeline Principal is this, “What you do tomorrow is determined by who is in your pipeline today.” In other words, if you want to go to closing or settlement in April or May, your pipeline must hold people ready to buy or sell today.

A Proven Principal

The Pipeline Principal holds true even in this world of Web 2.0 or Web 3.0.

Our busy time of the year in Michigan is the Spring and Summer market where most of our closings occur. Therefore, to plan on having a closing in November or December, (when the market is slow) we have to have a pipeline of folks ready to buy or sell in October or November.

Who is in Your Pipeline?

Your pipeline is made up of your buyers that have told you they will be ready in 6 months, people that are moving when school is out, people working on their credit repairs and any leads that have been returning to your web site.  Life changes and folks in your pipeline may be pushed to the top by the changing of their circumstances.

Keep In Touch

Keeping in touch with your potential and past clients affords you the opportunity to be there should events change in their life that will effect a move. Remember the sellers who have told you at a certain time next year they may be relocating, or you hear they have a new baby or get married. Keeping in touch with past clients will enable you to keep your pipeline full.  If you have folks in your pipeline, it is time to get on the phone and call them up.

A Friendly Call

Hi, Ms. Buyer,
“Last time we spoke you mentioned you would be ready to buy in March, I’m just checking in to see if that is still your time table?”

Hi Mr. Seller,
“Wow, I can’t believe your residency is over, do you know where you will being practicing when you finish?”

If I don’t have a closing in a particular month, that is not a concern to me; however, if my pipeline of future buyers or sellers is empty, THAT is a concern.

Old Methods vs New Technology

Technology has enhanced our lives and business, but sometimes we just need to refresh our minds with basic old sales principals.  Taking care of and growing that pipeline of future buyers and sellers ensures a consistent, steady source of income.

Photo by Missy Caulk taken on VA Beach 2-14-09

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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  1. Clint Miller

    February 17, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Im a firm believer in the pipeline! Thanks for the reminder, Missy!

  2. Ken Brand

    February 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

    And the people said, “AMEN”. Truer words were never spoken. Thanks, can’t be reminded enough.

  3. Mark Eibner

    February 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    we’re at it again There is Gold in Your Pipeline: Get out of your feed reader and comment on th..

  4. Brian Block

    February 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm


    The pipeline is very important. You’ve got to keep priming the pump to make the water flow. I’ll never forget seeing Zig Ziglar live doing that demonstration. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

  5. sheilabragg

    February 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    There is Gold in Your Pipeline: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that the ShamWo..

  6. FlanaganJim

    February 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Reading: “”There is Gold in your Pipeline”” (

  7. Paula

    February 18, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Missy – The pipeline not only feeds us today, but all of our tomorrows, once we have the systems in place. It is not enogh to have a pipeline, it must be taken care of.

    My son-in-law is a materials engineer whose work includes materials design for the gas pipelines across our country and others. When there’s a fracture or break, it must be taken care of. Otherwise, there’s a leak in the system which can equal great cost.

    I know you take care of your pipeline – Good work! Great reminder!

  8. Missy Caulk

    February 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Paula, I so agree, they can’t just sit in there and rot so to speak.

    Brian, Actually I don’t care to share.

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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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