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Staying Positive in a Negative World



Bad News fosters Bad Attitudes

It’s hard not to fall prey to the incessant bombardment of bad news from Wall Street and Capitol Hill, as financial markets continue to crumble, sending out shockwaves of gloom and doom that trickle down into every corner of the world, and threaten our sense of comfort and security.

No Market is an Island

There are fewer industries more significantly impacted by the current financial woes than real estate. Not only are more Buyers and Sellers hunkering down and waiting out the storm, but even those who have ventured into the market are hard pressed to achieve success. With credit literally frozen and banking institutions collapsing daily, lending requirements have tightened severely, leaving many Buyers who are simply unable to secure a loan.

Worry only delays progress

It’s hard not to worry about tomorrow, especially when you have others who are dependent upon you to provide for them. Such moments are a challenge to our character and faith.

Time for a Marketing Overhaul

Now, more than ever, is the time to re-evaluate your marketing plan, and to invest in activities that offer meaningful results. Work harder? Yes, absolutely! But most definitely, work smarter.

Analyze all of your current marketing methods/activities, and determine which are the most cost/time-effective. Now may be a good time to let go of some of those sacred marketing cows you’ve held onto for so long. Keep your plans and efforts simple and easy to implement.

Make It Personal

There’s something energizing and encouraging about meeting people/clients in person face-to-face. Make it a point to include in your plan a time to daily engage people personally. Enjoy that cup of coffee, or stop by their place or work.

Utilize the Buddy System

It’s at times like these that having meaningful relationships with other like-minded professionals can be so valuable. Find someone to partner with, who can hold you accountable, and cheer you on!

Love the One You’re with

Even in the midst of difficult challenges and pressures, remember to take time to deprogram, unwind, refresh, and re-energize. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures with those you love. Take nothing for granted.

Words of Wisdom

As my Father-in-Law always reminds me, “Have a better breakfast, have a better day!” Starting the day with an empty tank just doesn’t make any sense! And it amazes what a difference regular exercise can make on your attitude and disposition. Find something that works for you and stick with it!

Things may not get better anytime soon. In fact, they may very well get worse. We can only affect change in those things we have control over.

And as my Father-in-Law also wisely states, “This too shall pass.”

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  1. Paula Henry

    September 29, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Rich – We all need a positive message – DAILY! I was telling an associate the other day; it is up to us how we respond to the changes in the industry and whether or not we allow someone else to steal our joy. It is ultimately our decision!

  2. Mark Eibner

    September 30, 2008 at 4:16 am

    we’re at it again Staying Positive in a Negative World: When you comment on this articl..

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    September 30, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Staying positive is difficult sometimes, but I find that focusing on the good things in life helps tremendously. Yesterday, my twitter stream was bombarded with all the financial happenings in Washington & Wall Street and I felt myself tensing, worrying and just getting bummed out. The best medicine was turning off the negative stream and going to watch my daughters’ field hockey game.

    Your advice is good, Rich. Focusing on your family & other relationships, making your business better and improving your health are great ways to weather the storms. Avoiding tv news & newspapers helps too.

  4. Steve Simon

    September 30, 2008 at 7:46 am

    It is still the same body & mind we find ourselves in each morning we wake up, yet it is amazing how much different we can feel depending whether we feed that body bad thoughts or good thoughts.
    Even those that pride themselves on their thought process, the most astute, are not immune from “a wave of bad news”. You tell yourself worry (and this means to think and plan on future action) only about what you can have an effect on or make an adjustment to… leaving the other to greater powers than yours; but this is easier said than done.
    A bright cheery few sentances and a nice smile can and does make me feel better.
    I wish I could remember this all the time; because these days it seems I bury myself in bad news too much.
    A good reminder from our poster, Mr. Jacobson:)

  5. Teresa Boardman

    September 30, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I guess after making a living for years by myself on a 100% commission basis none of this holds any fear for me. Past experience has taught me that when everyone is worried they miss the opportunities, there are always opportunities. I am inclined to buy stock rather than sell it, I might be too late the dow has already gone up 234 points. So much of life is about attitude. I get some interesting views and perspectives from my parents who were born in 1928. They both grew up during the great depression, one on a farm and the other in the city. They had very different experiences and both are a wealth of information and ideas.

  6. Laura Cannon

    September 30, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Agentgenius has been featuring more and more of these soft posts about having a positive attitude or how to get motivated. I find it kind of saccharine. Maybe I am unusually cynical; I can already see a deluge of comments suggesting just that. But, please, some of this stuff is just not news-worthy, interesting, helpful, or funny; it’s not post-worthy. I would rather read something that I disagree with that makes me think.

    I really like agentgenius, but I am visiting less and less frequently because of the recent increase in shallow pep talks. This is not a personal attack on the author of this last entry, but rather a criticism of the direction of the website in general. Maybe I’m on the wrong site.

  7. Steve Simon

    September 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

    In response to Ms. Cannon’s comment,
    Just curious, I clicked on your site.
    Very nice… Clean, well done, very entertaining.
    I don’t know about news-worthy, but I like this site and your site:)

  8. Laura Cannon

    September 30, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Steve -“news-worthy” is not the only criteria for a good post; I also mentioned “interesting, helpful, or funny.” I suppose you could add “entertaining” as well. To a great extent, whether a post succeeds or not with regard to these terms is probably subjective. Going by the comments, it looks like more readers found this post helpful or interesting than insipid; I may be in the minority.

    I suppose if there was an objection to a general trend at agentgenius toward motivational writing and positive thinking re-hashes based on cliche thought patterns, there would be more of an outcry in the comments on several different posts. Or, maybe people just move on to other posts or other sites. I don’t know, but I wanted to state my concern. I tried to think of a nice way to say it, but it seems unavoidably unpleasant and offensive. How do you say you think someone’s writing or a site’s writing is moving in the wrong direction without being offensive? It is difficult. I find myself invested in agentgenius, however, so I felt compelled to say something. Having done that, I will refrain from further comment and continue to work on my own site and meeting the endless challenge of making it interesting, funny, helpful, news-worthy, or entertaining. It is not easy that I know, and I know that don’t always succeed. But, it helps if I keep my standards high.

  9. Nickie

    September 30, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Hey Rich,

    About the only time I catch the news is when I turn on the radio to catch the traffic report and even then it feels like I am being attacked with constant waves of negativity. Ack!
    I agree, better to turn it off and focus on the good.

    And no matter what is going on in the world on in our own lives, there is always good. And you know what they say, “what you focus on expands”, so I’m with you, focus on the good 🙂

  10. Rich Jacobson

    September 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Laura Cannon: Your comments/concerns are appreciated. I don’t find them unpleasant or offensive in the least. We’re fortunate to have a very eclectic and diverse collection of writers here on AG. Their various styles and perspectives help to maintain a wonderful variety. Personally, I write on whatever inspires me at the moment. I do intentionally try to balance my articles across a broad spectrum of topics/issues. Effective blogging doesn’t always have to incite debate & disagreement, or cause us to think deep. It’s first and foremost a conversation, a means of connection. I don’t see any shift taking place here towards any particular editorial direction. I think you will always find something interesting and intriguing here that will stimulate your thinking. You disagreed with the nature of my post and left a meaningful comment. So that’s a good thing!

  11. Wendy Forsythe

    September 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Rich

    The importance of positive messages and positive energy can not be understated. I recently blogged on a similar theme.

  12. Missy Caulk

    September 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Pass the bacon and eggs, homemade biscuits and Southern milk gravy. What I read, and meditate on effects my whole day. Your thoughts become your actions.

  13. Seanster

    October 3, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    This post is a breath of fresh air from the cynical and negative news we often hear and read about.
    Like what most of the people hear say, we need positive news sometimes to reinforce positive outlooks and actions.

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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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