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The good grammar geek done did real good…



nerdsMy grammar feelings have feelings too. This column is just a rant about my “Grammar Feelings.” I have an English Degree from the University of Texas, and I often hear things that grate on my every last nerve (even when I go back and read my own mindless writing).

Mistakes that I hate and demand cease in the online community at once:

*Bad: “I did good on that tour.”
*Good: “I did well on that tour.”
This is the most flagrant offense in the book- I command thee to use adverbs appropriately (bonus points for anyone who can point out the adverb in this sentence).

*Bad: “The sign was put on it’s side.”
*Good: “The sign was put on its side.”
*Bad: “Its obvious that I can’t.”
*Good: “It’s obvious that I can’t.”
When the apostrophe is present, it is used as a substitute for a letter, therefore “it’s” exclusively means “it is.”

*Bad: “I always loose my keys.”
*Good: “I always lose my keys.”
I LOVE reading this one- loose is reserved for a street walker or a big blouse.

*Bad: “I moved over their.”
*Good: “I moved over there.”
“There” refers to a location, “their” refers to something belonging to another group of people.

*Bad: “It’s you’re fault we are late.”
*Good: “It’s your fault we are late.”
This is a repetitive lesson- apostrophes are used as substitutes for letters, so “you’re” ALWAYS means “you are.”

*Bad: “I could of finished.”
*Good: “I could have finished.”
I blame this on the buck-toothed goons that have butchered the language. If you need an explanation on this, please go back to third grade, rinse and repeat.

I could go on forever! I was 15 when I corrected my then-stepmother when she said to my little brother “oh, you did so good on that!” I had never spoken back to my parents but I couldn’t take it any more- I said, “you mean ‘you did well on that.’” She was furious and I told her that I was embarrassed and did not want people to hear her and think that I come from an ignorant family. When she begged my father (who has the same grammar sensitivities) to intervene, he simply supported me by saying, “she’s right” (and that was the last time I mingled in family politics…).

New Rules & Regulations

The problem is that we are living in a virtual E-World with its own rules and regulations, all of which have become acceptable (see my UT transcript featuring a course on “Internet Ethics and the Online Evolution”- oh yeah, it’s really a class). So, Internet Users, I’ll agree to conform by typing “sup? I miss you guys ‘cuz u rock!,” as long as you all take a five minute grammar lesson, stop saying “I did good,” and STOP hurting my Grammar Feelings.

What lessons have *you* learned today?  What rules aren’t included that drive you batty?

Originally published on April 2007 and the rules have yet to change.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Jack Leblond

    May 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I’m sitting next to you on this bandwagon. I also hate when people use use contradictory words in the same sentence, like “I don’t have no”, which of course would mean they have it. Or “every last nerve”. I’m not sure on this one, since “every” would seem to imply multiple and “last” would seem to imply just one. ;-D

  2. Lani Rosales

    May 13, 2009 at 9:00 am

    In full disclosure, I gave many an English professor high blood pressure because of my crappy skills- it’s not like they teach grammar in college, we all took it in 8th grade and never again!

    At UT, Dr. Hinojosa would tear your paper in half in front of the class if you used the word “like.” He said, “nothing is LIKE anything, it either IS or it IS NOT.” Internally, I thought, you are like a jerk. lol

  3. Dan Green

    May 13, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Errant apostrophes. Grrr…

  4. Jim Duncan

    May 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

    But Lani, it’s just a blog! Who cares about the quality of the writing? 🙂

    Here’s how I put it – if you’re not going to take the time to proof read your copy for the blog, what assurances are there (for the world to see in perpetuity) that you’ll do better when writing the offer?

    I share your feelings … my mother was an English teacher, I was an English major in college and was an editorial editor for our newspaper. Words – and how the sentences are constructed – matter.

  5. Bridget Magnus

    May 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Heh, Realtors and grammar/spelling. Let’s not get started.

    My pet peeve is s and ‘s. This isn’t hard, yet I’ve seen teachers mess it up! If a resume crosses my desk and gets this one wrong, it’s directly into the “NO” pile.

  6. Kori Covrigaru

    May 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Their is some grate content hear in you’re post. Its obvious you no you’re grammar good.

    Seriously though, this kind of thing bugs me too. Great post. I got a good laugh.


  7. ines

    May 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I have to tell you that English as a second language always gets me with little things like “on” and “in” for example. Rick is constantly correcting me – but if you ever see me make a mistake, please tell me (DM me) whatever……my feelings will not be hurt.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    May 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Lani – I admit to often terrible grammar. The its vs. it’s one kills me, but recently I have been working really hard to correct it. I think I may have even mentioned it in one of my early post in “The Stigliano Chronicles.” My biggest problem is the use of commas. I overuse them and have been slayed for them throughout school. I write how I speak and sometimes I continue a thought into one giant run-on sentence. I’m aware of it and try to calm myself down when my finger reaches for the “,” key.

    I do get upset when I see to, too, and two misused for some reason.

    PS The answer is “appropriately.”

  9. Louise Scoggins

    May 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Lani, I had a good chuckle while reading your post! While I don’t have an English degree, it drives me crazy when people make the mistakes listed in your post (amongst others). My dad, a self-made millionaire and genius who read the world encyclopedias and studied the dictionary, was constantly reminding us (kids and mom) of what the proper grammar would be if we were to say something incorrectly. His teachings chime in the back of my head on an almost daily basis (it’s different FROM, not different THAN). Your post made me smile and think of my dad 🙂

    Matt — I feel your pain though…I, too, overuse commas, have long run-on sentences b/c I write how I speak, and use way too many exclamation points and “…” in my writing. Oh well what can you do!! You win some, you lose some…

  10. Megan Lust

    May 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Lani – This made me laugh when I read it. I think everyone at some point has committed at least one of the grammar faux pas you mentioned. (Guilty!) Some bother me more than others. I find in IM conversations I let all grammar rules go out the window. Probably a bad idea but I can’t help it.

    Matt – I actually love when I read something that makes me think: ‘He writes like people talk!’ and that’s how I write too. Does make for interesting reading IMO – as long as it’s for the right audience I guess.

  11. Brandie Young

    May 14, 2009 at 10:08 am

    First – Kori, that was funny!

    Next, Miss Lani – good nudge! I believe we’ve come to rely on spell and grammar check so much that if we don’t see a word underlined red or green (as when leaving a comment) we assume it’s correct. It’s important to remember that our writing leaves an impression. Have someone proofread!

    p.s. I tend to transpose “whether” and “weather” – and haven’t come up with a cute way to remind myself. Folks always laugh that I have the word “weather” on my whiteboard with a little sun next to it.

  12. Missy Caulk

    May 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Lani, I went to Catholic school for 6 years, the nuns hammered grammer into us. My kids just didn’t get as much growing up.

    My head out runs my fingers sometimes so I need to S L O W down…proof read.

    Feel free to correct.

  13. Sheila Rasak

    November 27, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Can I vs. may I…I don’t know, can you? Ability vs. permission. Nuff said. 😉

  14. Jim

    November 28, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Great post and comments! My biggest grammar pet peeve is the use of the word “impact” as a verb. “The foreclosure price will impact neighbors’ property values.” Well, actually it might affect them or have an impact on them, but can’t impact them. But, I fear I’ve lost this battle. Cheers!

  15. BawldGuy

    November 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    *Bad: “I could of finished.”
    *Good: “I could have finished.”

    I’m thinkin’ ‘coulda’ ain’t gonna pass the test. 🙂 Generally speaking, I write, using well English when it matters too folks.

  16. Mike O'Hara

    November 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I see people misusing “too” and “to”, often. People also need to stop saying, “irregardless”. Also, you are not “notorious” for doing something good. Remember it this way. OJ Simpson was a “famous” football player, now he is “notorious” for an alleged double murder.


    November 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

    I can’t believe your photo lani! those 2 guys are my friends darwin and bryan from my days at UC Berkeley. its amazing what pix pop up on the internet!

  18. James

    November 29, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I’m not good at grammars too. I try to follow the rules, but it’s hard when you have lived and used the wrong grammar all throughout so many years..

    Good read here!

    🙂 James

  19. SedonaKathy

    November 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Lani, love you, but we differ on this…like I differ with people who get incensed over someone saying WTF on twitter. They are only “words”.

    Go deeper. Appreciate that these people communicate. Some better than others.

    You rock…

  20. Qwerty

    June 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I can't stand when people use "I had did it" or "We done it". This includes family! I bite my tongue every time I hear my mother in law say these phrases. I worry that she will someday infect my kids with her poor grammar, though. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

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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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