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The 100 Days Trick



100 Days Trick

I have seen the future and it is a lot like the past, only longer. There is a “trick” that time plays on people. For most working Realtors the trick that time plays is about 100 days.

In this business, it takes about 100 days from the time you do the things that matter until you get paid. What you did or didn’t do (Dollar Productive Activities) in March will determine how much income you receive in June. This lag in time contributes to many agents failure to realize that they personally control their income. But there is a time lag. This isn’t to suggest that if you were hit by some natural disaster that you won’t be effected – you will. I have a Realtor friend in Biloxi, Mississippi whose entire office was physically under water after Katrina hit. That can kind of wreck your day. Another friend of mine, a top ERA agent, who woke up to find that every open escrow and every listing she had was just gone or under water. No surprise, those escrows didn’t close. I am not suggesting that these things don’t matter or can’t cause quite an effect, at least a temporary one. But those agents – both winners – bounced back.

Over the years, sometimes you catch a buyer at just the right time or happen across a seller who wants to list immediately and as luck would have it, you wind up with an escrow in just a few weeks from the time you first made contact. Because it is so easy to to remember when you connected with them it is common for an agent to wind up with a very false picture regarding how long it takes to get business and get paid. It is very seldom just a few weeks. Very rare, indeed. It is usually about 80 to 110 days – about 100 days. Don’t depend on luck. If you were to actually do the things this month that really matter (not the pointless, silly and non-productive actions that are so “important”) like working directly on Lead Generation, Lead Conversion and Listing Appointments – your income this next September could be your highest ever.

I swear this isn’t some trick I’m trying to play on you.

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and

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  1. Eric Blackwell

    June 3, 2008 at 2:58 am

    IMO, the key to it is in how you reacted to this post. If your first thought was “Yeah, but….(insert you explanation of why you are different and the rabbit doesn’t apply to you.) ” Then you need to go back to the top and read it again. (grin)

    If you cannot help but going through that process 3 times because you keep saying “yeah, but”…I see a J.O.B. in your future. Attitude (actually, the effort it generates), is IMO what carries the day here.

  2. Bill Lublin

    June 3, 2008 at 4:40 am


    You always amaze me because we share so many business philosphies – For years, in previous tough times, I would ocme home after spending the day working, and hearing about people “spinning their wheels” – and I would tell my wife that if you spin your wheels long enough, eventually you get through the snow or slush and hit solid ground, taking off and moving forward.

    I always felt that if I went to work and worked hard every day, things wouldhappen for me. Often they weren;t the things I was working on, but I think its sort of a work version of “What goes around – Comes around”. If you work you get rewards –

    Ain’t nothing takes the place of a good work ethic and dogged determination – Dang I love people that work hard! 😉

  3. Joe Manausa

    June 3, 2008 at 5:17 am


    Very well written. I teach this all the time to my agents as well. Do not celebrate the closings, for they are what you did. Celebrate the contacts and the follow-up calls; they are your job today!

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    June 3, 2008 at 5:17 am

    This is an important point in that while working with new agents, I’ve found over and over again that they have the “45 Day Syndrome.” The agents (even new-new ones) think that they find the client, show houses for two weeks and then take the next 30 days to close. This leaves them disregarding the fact the a lot of clients take up to 9 months to incubate from first contact. This is why so many agents only return calls to “right now” clients instead of looking for future business to sustain them.

    Great thoughts!

  5. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 3, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Some of you may recall the saying: Keep on Truckin’! It definitely applies to real estate. Its (generally speaking) not a 9 to 5 job with a weekly paycheck, so the expectations that go along with a “regular” salary need to get pitched in the trash can. One corollary I would add to the post is: Avoid hanging with those agents that are consistently negative about everything. Their negative outlook can impact your outlook as well. Keep on Truckin’!

  6. BawldGuy Talking

    June 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Russell — You brought back a lesson one of my most treasured mentors taught me back in the day. It must be the affects of inflation, ‘cuz he called it the 90 Day Miracle. 🙂

  7. Benn Rosales

    June 3, 2008 at 11:00 am

    When the market was firing on its own cylinders here in Austin, it was 45 to 60 days, but it’s feeling like 100 right now.

  8. Eric Blackwell

    June 3, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I guess the bottom line is that no matter whether 45, 100 or 300…the only way we are gonna survive (thrive) in any of those markets is to fill the pipeline and keep it full..

    @Benn–That is about the same here. I have some REALTOR friends in Austin and your market seems to parallel ours very closely.



  9. Ken Smith

    June 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    100 days sounds about correct. I have stepped up efforts a number of times and our team always seems to see the rewards about 3 months later. We always try and increase our prospecting before bringing on new team members so the current members will not see a decrease in leads and closings.

  10. Rich Jacobson

    June 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Russell: So true! I think the most common mistake by newer agents, and some of us seasoned salts, is to forget to be constantly marketing to keep the pipeline full. Many times, we can get so focused on the deals at hand, that we forget to promote ourselves at the same time, to attract the next few deals. Multi-tasking, it’s what we do best, right?

  11. Frank Jewett

    June 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    When I worked at the board, I was recruited to become an agent by several brokers. Most of them promised that within a couple of years, I’d be working by referral only, as if the phone would just ring by itself. This seemed to be an admission that farming and marketing were the least desirable aspect of the business. When I worked at the title company, I got a chance to see which agents were farming and marketing based on requests for information. Most of those agents were posting consistent numbers, even in a down market. Persistence is the key, regardless of what method you use. Even if you grow your business over cocktails, you still have to show up.

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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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