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Storing Great [BLOG] Ideas



Great blog ideas come to me at the strangest times. Most often they come to me when I am NOT near a computer. I learned the hard way that I will NOT remember that great ideas 4 hours later (or the next morning).

Finding an Answer

Finally, I ponied up the 88 cents and bought a composition notebook. I carried this notebook (and it’s predecessors) around with me everywhere. Since it is not spiral bound, the pages stayed in nicely. Since it has a rigid cover, my handwriting didn’t look like chicken-scratch.

I have used these notebooks for almost 2 years, now, and I love it. I have boatloads of random (and semi-brilliant-if-I-may-say-so-myself) blog posts that should last me a near lifetime. (And I am planning on living long enough to embarrass my great-grandchildren, so there.)

Finding Other Answers

However, I know that my notebook idea is sooo 1.0, so here are other options:

  • – This site allows you to call in and leave a message. They translate it to text and email it to you, along with the audio recording. You can even “jott” to other people.
    If you were really cool, you could set up your email to auto-file messages from to a file marked “Blog Ideas” … I’m not even THAT cool.
  • Voice Mail – Call and leave yourself a Voice Mail with all your genius ideas.

How do YOU store your Great Blog ideas?

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  1. Lisa Heindel

    August 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I am on my second spiral notebook, but it seems to get filled with other notes as well as blog ideas. I’m trying to keep them all in one place, but sometimes an idea strikes when you least expect it. so there are also post-it notes, backs of envelopes….

  2. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Jamie – Rub it in…

    Lisa – Post it notes work well. I just make sure that I stick them in my notebook so that they don’t get confused with the grocery lists … I also reserve the back pages of my books for other random notes, so that those notes do not get lost amongst ideas.

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    August 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    How interesting that I have been looking for an MIA notebook for the past week and then you go write this post. I suppose that’s my cue to replace it. Can’t help but wonder what happened to the other one though.

    Anyway, I agree that this is the best way to capture ideas…there is no temptation to make it look pretty or to obsessively edit and correct…it is pure thought.

  4. Drew Meyers

    August 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I just store blog ideas as “drafts” in wordpress, or e-mail the idea to myself so I check it later.

  5. Holly White

    August 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    There’s a nifty little voice recorder on my crackberry. Not nearly as “cool” as jott, but it seems to be quicker for taking notes. I LOVE jott for responding to emails on the blackberry though. Anything to keep my hands on the wheel!

  6. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Lisa – As soon as you replace it, you will find it. 😉

    Drew – I also have a billion ideas in draft mode, which seems ot be the second step for me, after scribbling them in a notebook.

  7. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Holly – I guess there is a voice recorder on my phone as well, but the problem with technology like that is: No matter how cool it is, if I am not going to use it consistently, it’s not worth it. At least I use my notebooks consistently.

  8. Holli Boyd

    August 13, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I also make tons of drafts – and never remember to get back to them – but I have a shoebox sized plastic box with secure lid (cause it will spill without!) I have been storing all my pieces of paper, handouts, brochures etc. that I eventually want to use. I also use the back of envelope, scrap paper, post-it method – so the box is perfect to keep it all in. Love your comp notebooks MW – they are gorgeous! Could become journalistic as well 🙂

  9. Broker Bryant

    August 13, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Hello there Mariana,

    I have yet to have a great blog idea but I am hoping to one day. BUT…..for my very average blog ideas I do use Jot quite often. I also have a mind like a steel trap so just file them away into the dark recesses of my warped brain until I need them. And when all else fails I use plagiarism and copying and pasting from others.

  10. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Holli – A “Tupperware” box is a great idea! I have a file for different brochures and handouts that I would use in a post, but a box with a lid is a much better idea.

  11. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Broker Bryant – (LMAO…)

    “I also have a mind like a steel trap so just file them away into the dark recesses of my warped brain until I need them.”

  12. Vicki Moore

    August 13, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I have piles. 🙁

  13. Steve Belt

    August 13, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Another 2.0 idea is You can capture pictures, audio recordings, web pages, etc., and they even have an iPhone app.

  14. Jennifer in Louisville

    August 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    A comp notebook (and post-it notes when its not available) is what I’ve been using for over a year now. Its allowed me to remember some really great things that I wanted to cover that I otherwise may have forgotten.

  15. Rocky

    August 13, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I love Jott, the only problem is that each time I call in, it converts my text to somthing that a drunken monkey would type out!

  16. Mariana Wagner

    August 13, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Vicki – Oh! Your PILES … I nearly forgot.

    Steve – You know, I have heard of but have not used it. I think my RE coach uses it though.

    Jennifer – No kidding! I can’t imagine how many ideas that i would have lost w/o my notebook.

    Rocky – Well, Jott never makes errors – never, never, never. Maybe you should ask yourself why you keep acting like a drunken monkey. 😉

  17. Jennifer Rathbun

    August 13, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I have a word document titled “Blog Ideas.” I add them there. And delete them as I write them.

    I also have several lists of to-do with me at any given time (I’m trying to keep them on my computer as much as possible, but…). Anyway, when I’m out and about, I use those till I transfer to the computer.

    It’s finding enough time to apply all the blog ideas that I read about that is really hard. I think I’ll have to try 1 day of reading and writing and the next day for application.

  18. Mark Eckenrode

    August 13, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    sweet… glad to hear so many folks using comp notebooks, too. i thought i might have been the odd-ball out in this digital age. ever try moleskines? if you like the kinisthetic experience of writing on paper then you need to try of these pocket sized notebooks.

  19. Mike Taylor

    August 14, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Sounds like you all are way more organized than I am. I usually write them on a post it note or whatever paper I have in front of me. Problem is I usually forget it is on there and throw it away.

  20. Brian Miller

    August 14, 2008 at 7:15 am

    you guys amaze me….an organized way to keep blog ideas? geez, i’ve got a spiral notebook that I carry with me a lot. Problem is it is almost always in the car when a great idea hits me. I love Jott, but i’m not cool enough to even use it effectively….
    seriously, though – thanks for the various tips. you’ve inspired me to “do it right” or at least “do it better”

  21. Jeremy Hart

    August 14, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Mike, you and I have the exact same system. I would have commented earlier, but I forgot where I put the Post It note reminder.

  22. Chuck G

    August 14, 2008 at 7:44 am

    If you want to go a little more high tech route, several companies make a little solid state voice recorder. It uses flash memory, so it’s small and light (about the size of those cool little USB thumb drives.) It only has a few buttons — record, rewind, and play… It’s great to keep in the car, or in your briefcase when you get those fleeting great thoughts on what to blog on…. or just a way to remind yourself of something when you’re in a place where the cell phone or notebook won’t work.

  23. Mack in Atlanta

    August 14, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I have used the voice mail approach for several years now. It allows me to get to a computer to write the piece and then publish it when appropriate.

  24. Nickie Rothwell

    August 14, 2008 at 9:38 am

    I often think of ideas while driving too and I used voicemail for years, but now my system wants me to go thru too many hoops to leave myself a voicemail that it doesn’t make sense anymore. I’ve been thinking about jott for a while now, guess it’s time to do it.

    Other than that, yes, I love the old reliable pen and notebook-or the day’s to do list 🙂 . It’s always handy when you need it.

  25. Jim Duncan

    August 14, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Just a quick vote in favor of Jott. I have Alltel and their “circle of friends” and added Jott as one of my twenty “free” numbers. I don’t use it for sending emails or reminders to anyone other than myself, but it’s a mighty cool and efficient service. Don’t tell the Jott folks, but I’d even be willing to pay a little bit every month for the service.

  26. ines

    August 14, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I keep a Sharpie handy and write the ideas on Rick’s back 😉

    …..seriously, I write them in my handy dandy iphone in a little notepad application and can even e-mail those to myself. I use the same notepad to write all the relevant info on each of our listings by address (dates of a/c, roof, square footage, additions, features….etc) – but that is absolutely irrelevant to this post, isn’t it?

  27. Paula Henry

    August 14, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Notebooks – who knew we would continue to use them long after school – ideas, names, notes, mileage – you name it. I always have my best ideas just about the time I am falling asleep. I think I will remember in the a.m., but I don’t. Maybe Jot would be good for this. It would be easier to carry my cell phone to bed, than try to write in the dark.

  28. Mariana Wagner

    August 14, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Jennifer – Sometimes I think I am in constant blog-mode. My whole life is a potential blog post.

    Mark – Moleskines look way cool…

    Mike – That is not a very good system, now. Is it?

    Brian – I am not “cool enough” either. Derek uses it all the time though – but not to blog.

    Jeremy – LOL!

  29. Mariana Wagner

    August 14, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Chuck – That sounds cool. DO you have a link?

    Mack – I think that would be a great option for a lot for people.

    Nickie – I can’t even figure out how to CHECK My VM’s anymore thus the reason I request folks to text me. lol!

    Jim – I bet Jott would like to know that they are “in your circle” …

  30. Mariana Wagner

    August 14, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Ines – You need a reply all to yourself.


  31. Mariana Wagner

    August 14, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Paula – I love it: “Maybe Jot would be good for this. It would be easier to carry my cell phone to bed, than try to write in the dark.”

  32. Ricardo Bueno

    August 16, 2008 at 2:50 am

    When I have that “aha” moment and I’m not near a computer (usually when I’m falling asleep) I repeat it to myself over and over. But as much as I repeat it, I forget the next morning! It never sticks and you gotta hate that ya know!?

    So I don’t care how 1.0 it is, I have a note-books I carry around and I write everything down in it. I don’t use jott, but I do use the voice-recorder on my phone on occasion…

  33. Matthew Rathbun

    August 16, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I am too lazy to read all the other comments, but I am with you! I’ve got a “wallet” size composite book. I write the topic and three little bullet points. This week I’ve drawn a complete blank on several blogs…. just looking at an empty screen. I go back to my book and can’t remember what the heck I was thinking. So, I’ve decided to start using my Jott account to dictate at least a paragraph. Thanks for the next idea!

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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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