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The secret to writing a great blog post

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Years ago, when I was just starting to blog, I often found myself staring at the computer until I was cross-eyed, constantly struggling to write a new blog post.  I felt like I was trying to write the next great american novel, and it didn’t matter how much pressure I put on myself, I kept getting lots of coal and very few diamonds.

I found myself forced to hardwire my mind into finding new ways to write.  If I expected to continue as a real estate blogger, I knew I would need to be more consistent, but how?  The most important thing I ever did for my blogging habits was to take a step back and critically assess the style in which I wrote.  I decided to take that great american novel, set it on fire, and threw it off a cliff.  I stopped putting the pressure on myself to write, and instead just DID IT.

Why was it so hard?

In the past, my writing method consisted of forcing myself to think of a blog topic, writing an outline and then writing the content.  From there I proceeded to rework and edit my posts until all the life had been wrung out of them and they were both highly informative and completely boring.  When I realized that blogging was hard because I was making it hard, writing blog posts and developing original content became worlds easier.  I stopped trying to plan blog posts and instead just started writing.  I adopted a stream of consciousness style of writing, getting the words out first and worrying about structure and flow later.

No more struggles

Nowadays It’s not unusual to sit down with a topic in mind and finding out afterwards that I wrote about something completely unrelated.  I’m okay with that, and my readers are too. I still go back and edit to ensure that what I wrote makes sense to more than just myself, but the overall quality of my content has improved.  Instead of struggling to write, I’ve been able to start scheduling my blog posts as much as a week in advance!  I also find that I can write several posts that I decide not to publish at all.  Instead I keep them saved, and go back to them from time to time to work into other posts or use as a springboard for new ideas.

The secret to writing well and writing consistently is to find a method that works for you.  Some people seem to be naturally brilliant when it comes to blogging.  I’m not one of those people, but that doesn’t mean I can’t churn out some great content myself.  All I had to do was find a way to write that made sense for me personally.

I'm a Realtor in Southern Maryland. I grew up surrounded by the RE business, spent time as an actor, worked as a theatrical designer and technician, and took the road less traveled before settling down in real estate. I run my own local market website at https://www.somdexpert.com and when I'm not at the office or meeting clients, I can usually be found doing volunteer work, playing with my 3 rescued shelter dogs (Help your local Humane Society!), or in the garage restoring antique cars.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Mary McKnight

    April 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Seriously? This passes for advice? FYI – between this post and the one I read about how agents should hijack expired domains with Pagerank (totally valid advice LIKE 3 YEARS AGO, but CAN’T work today because of real time search), it’s clear you need to review your content better before publishing it.

    • Benn Rosales

      May 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Mary, just as an FYI, 66% of our audience has been blogging three months or less based on a recent 3rd party study, our reach is growing nearly 20% month over month. You’re a pro, and been teaching/doing this so long it’s second nature, but we still try to touch on basics. I hope this puts this post into context, and that even though technology moves on, and even though we’ve moved on, many are just beginning and even sometimes, old pros need a reminder that stream of consciousness writing is exactly that, and not done the way you would write a novel.

      Best,

  2. Drew Meyers

    May 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    The secret to writing a great blog post is….Be passionate. Give a sh*t.

    If you don’t care about the topic you’re writing about, it’s going to be a crappy blog post regardless of how much time you spend on it. Just my 2 cents.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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