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The Real Estate Agent or The Friend ?



You can Become Too Emotionally Involved

Building Relationships is key when establishing trust and rapport with clients whether buying or selling a home. Unfortunately, it is easy for this relationship building to be misconstrued as a friendship being formed. It’s easy when the real estate transaction is not a “happy” occasion, but that of sadness, to cross over between the professional to the friend.

Five Situations to Keep Yourself in Check

  • Divorce: Usually you act as a middleman in between the two spouses, and when it is an amicable split – it can work without too many glitches. However, usually one party or the other will have to relieve some of their steamed up frustration and tell you what the latest “tuff” is about between them.
  • Relocation: Moves to an unfamiliar place can be very difficult. Whether working with buyer or seller, you have to deal with the unknowns many times – which is always difficult to accept; establishing new relationships; jobs; neighbors. It could very well be that you are the first and only new connection that the client has in their new town.
  • Short Sale/Foreclosure: The financial strain is a heavy thing. People often experience high feelings of failure and they look to you to balance out the negativity they are faced with.
  • Death: The loss of a loved one creates a gap in lives. You may be seeked out to fill it – at least temporarily.
  • Downgrading: Sometimes when people decide to downgrade they are very emotional and can attach to you for validation in their decision to move. This can be because of many different reasons from financial to health. If you are working with a seller, you’ll find situations where they need help letting go. When working with buyers, they could be having a hard time realizing what they can afford isn’t quite what they had in mind.

Stay Focused on the Transaction

Because of the frequency of communication with clients, it is easy for them to think of you as their friend that they can unload on. In each of these situations, remind yourself to keep them focused on the house and transaction, continually bring the conversation back to the facts at hand. I’m sure we’ve all had the phone call to the client that never lasts longer than an hour, when you call you have to have “an appointment” you need to hang up for. Sometimes you have to resort to the bold truth, “I can not work on building a friendship with you at the same time we are building a professional one.”

Warning Signs

Pay attention to the Warning Signs of friendship seekers: telephone calls just to say hi, going/meeting for drinks, tears through phone calls, home tours that seem to be for ‘talk time’ instead of house hunting time, asking for money, or invitations to parties.

Build One Relationship at a Time

Many times good friendships are desired and are formed. It happens easily because a lot of the time the people you work with will be very compatible to your personality. It’s usually best, however, to work on one relationship at a time. Wait until after your transaction is complete before jumping into a personal relationship with your clients.

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  1. Brian Block

    November 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Kim, certainly there’s nothing wrong with becoming friends with your clients… Just make sure that the real friendship begins after the transaction and the settlement is behind you. You are correct — it is important to focus on the business at hand. Friendships can naturally develop.

    On the other hand, one of my greatest pleasures has been helping those who were friends first with their real estate deals. I’ve heard some horror stories about mixing friendships with business, but I’ve always had good results.

  2. Missy Caulk

    November 12, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Only had one of those, it was a one way thing as she wanted friendship and we wanted to sell her a house. Too many calls were draining us and she flip flopped all over the place with her needs, wants etc…

    My goal is to become friends with them during the transaction and become a trusted person for future transactions.

    Some of my clients have become life long friends.

  3. sheilabragg

    November 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    The Real Estate Agent or The Friend ?: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMI..

  4. Paula Henry

    November 12, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Kim – Often we must disconnect from the circumstances so we can perform our job. It is rarely easy, however, when we set the limits in the beginning,(nip it in the bud) we can usually complete the transaction with our sanity in tact.

    Along the way, we will make some great friends of our clients, just not all.

  5. Mark Eibner

    February 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    we’re at it again The Real Estate Agent or The Friend ?: Get out of your feed reader an..

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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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