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The Value of Invisible



When one shows up

We’ve all lived the reality of being self-employed, no boss, no pressure, no alarm clock, and no pay check at the end of the month. You forgot that when you’re the boss, you determine the amount of the paycheck. Russell Shaw, and Jeff Brown, both (highly) successful in their fields have written over the past few weeks about diving in, focusing, throwing out the fluff and making it happen. They reminded us through this medium we call blogging that we are in control, that our check is as big as we wish it to be. Having such valuable mentoringin the blogiverse has real meaning, it has depth, and ultimately, I am certain that it has a positive effect on them- it galvanizes them.

Why they do it

Giving positive direction to (in some cases) struggling agents is uplifting, it strengthens their own resolve, it reminds them of the things they’ve learned as veterans. They’re reminded by speaking to you, that they were in fact where you are right now, in the trenches delivering the absolute best you possibly can with little encouragement in what was back then new and tougher times, and they’re still here sharing today- They know what the value of invisible really is.

You are the value added

Today’s world is so much more connected than it was then in that they can sit at the computer and deliver powerful messages, and what’s more, those that have not yet achieved that superstar status in the trenches can also reach out to the masses and share, affirm and identify with very much the same challenges of a changing world. Offering new ideas and new concepts through this wonderful platform called a blog, we noobs can give our side on elevating not only others, but even ourselves, and our consumer. We strengthen our own resolve by telling success stories, offering tips and advice to others (even if they disagree) on the off chance that someone comes along and builds on a new and novel concept.

But what if the Greats like Russell and Jeff decided they just didn’t have time for anything else but themselves? Sure, we would all survive, but I would surely miss those battle scar stories, and those fatherly reminders to get off my ass and do something– but the value of what they know would amount to the unknown.

When you share we all gain- even you

It is a great responsibility and challenge to show up and share something you know. Whether you’re Russell Shaw, or Mariana Wagner. It is hard work to make time for others, but I believe we do this more for ourselves– not for the money (because I’m not making any on writing this post), but more to remind myself of my own battle scars that galvanize even my own successes, and I suppose to remind you also of how important you are to me in this conversation.

What’s in blogging for me?

Vicki Moore reminded me today not to forget about relationships and even taught me a great way to make them stronger; Mariana taught me yesterday that handing someone value on a doorstep was only the first step and then gave me a blueprint to get me started, Danilo reminded me that I should embrace the educated consumer as a gift and not be afraid- and countless others. And of course Russell and Jeff continue to remind me through their actions that I also have an obligation to share what I know.

What is the value of invisible?

So, I humbly submit to you that the value of invisible is zero. Whether it’s not showing up to the office to fill that pipeline, or sharing yourself in a blog to consumers, with your peers or even commenting and sharing reactions – it is all important, it all matters, even to your own morale.

I guess the bottom line is

I don’t know everything, but one thing I am learning is that showing up really is 99% of the battle, but it is that tiny 1% that makes the other 99% possible.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Bill Lublin

    June 7, 2008 at 5:59 am

    For a guy hiding behind a coffee cup to doubt the value of invisible is almost scary 😉
    And I am stunned to find out that we do not get paid for wiritng these posts. I am however relieved that at least we get AR points for our efforts! OMG What do you mean We don’t?
    I enjoyed the post, and I thoroughly agree that when we give to others, whether through blogging, volunteering or mentoring, we ultimately gain.

  2. Vance Shutes

    June 7, 2008 at 6:13 am


    I recall an old adage that you REALLY learn when you become the teacher. Part of what we do as Bloggers (even noobs like me) is to become more proficient at whatever skill we choose to share via our our posts. Having met Russell recently, I found him one of the most sharing top-echelon Realtors I’ve ever met. Russell continues to learn and grow by his active engagement in teaching others through his posts here at AG. It’s because of the folks you highlight in this post that I’ve become more confident in my blogging skills (meager as they are). To them, and to you (for broaching the subject), I owe a debt of gratitude.

  3. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 7, 2008 at 8:50 am

    When so many things are demanding our attention, it is *most* difficult to remember to help others (through blogging, mentoring, etc). Thank you for reminding us all that we have something valuable to share.

    If the Jeffs and Russels stopped writing, it would become crushingly evident in the blogiverse. If the Teresas and Dustins disappeared, the pool of mentors would become smaller. I love your assertion though that it also takes the Lanis and Andys (who are learning so much while sharing our new stories) to keep it all together because the value of invisible IS zero.

  4. Teresa Boardman

    June 7, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Nice post Benn, you are right invisible is zero . . yet there are days when I would not mind a few hours of “zeroness”.

  5. Barry Cunningham

    June 7, 2008 at 11:56 am

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The Great One – Wayne Gretzky

  6. BawldGuy Talking

    June 7, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Sorry it took so long, as I had to break out the 12C to add the anti-spam numbers correctly. 🙂

    I always feel like such fraud when people held in such high regard like yourself, speak of me in such positive terms. I’d still be a relatively unknown agent if it wasn’t for the selfless agents long ago who went out of their way to guide me, and sometimes take me to the woodshed. I still remember specific instances when I knew what they’d told me had changed the direction of my career — and my life.

    If I stand tall, it’s ‘cuz they’ve allowed me to stand on their shoulders. One of the promises they would always demand from me, was to do for others what they were doing for me. I’ve always viewed making good on that promise as a repayment of the debt I’ll never be able to repay to those mentors.

    Looking back, it’s obvious my career would have been far less successful without their constant guidance and, at times, tough love. They were the ones who told me to stop telling them I’d ‘try my best’, and just shut up and do it already. They were long before PC. 🙂

    The way you’re giving back Benn, is AgentGenius and the various conferences you instigate or in which you participate. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve taken a nugget and made it my own. Obviously I’m not the Lone Ranger. Hundreds must be doing the same. Your impact has been felt.

  7. Russell Shaw

    June 7, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I love this post, Ben. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Johathan Swift: “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”

  8. Russell Shaw

    June 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Oh yea, and this one from Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further than others it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”

  9. Mariana Wagner

    June 7, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Benn – This is awesome. SO MUCH matters … I am consistently amazed at how important the “little things” really are. (And I will not mention the fact that I waited for 15 seconds for the picture to load…)

  10. Chris Lengquist

    June 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I shudder to think where I would be without:

    Randy Lindemuth – My first broker. He hired me. Shared listings with me. Loaned me money to market myself. Took time to be patient through my post inspection temper tantrums. I’ve never forgotten all he’s done for me. He still barely uses a computer down there in Tulsa. But I wouldn’t have any of the success I have without him.

    Jeff Brown – I’ve learned a little, more than a little, from Jeff. But more than anything, and this is 100% serious, I’ve learned that there was someone else out there doing what I do. I was always nervous that I couldn’t find anyone else doing what I do. Was I crazy? Was I out of touch? Would this work long term? I can bounce ideas off him because he’s been where I am. It’s a security blanket, if you will.

    Laurie Manny – I couldn’t wait to meet here at the Bloodhound event. More than any single individual and possibly more than the sum of all others, she set my path for blogging. Her early Active|Rain posts are classics that most people never go back and read. And then wonder why their blogs/websites don’t generate any clients. Paying clients. It’s a shame.

  11. Paula Henry

    June 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Benn – I would not be blogging or selling real estate today had it not been for the mentors I have had along the way. Many of the people you mentioned have mentored me, both here on Agent Genius and other sites. They don’t even know it, but when they gave back – I was there – taking it all in, weighing their opinion and expertise against what I was currently doing – tweeking, moving forward and hopefully, giving back. Thanks for your wisdom!

  12. Ricardo Bueno

    June 8, 2008 at 12:26 am

    “I don’t know everything…” — Benn Rosales

    Oh come now Benn…you’re a Genius! Hehe…

    But really, there’s an endless amount of knowledge up for grabs by engaging here or anywhere else for that matter. In business, there’s no substitute for experience. Right? BUT, you learn from your experiences AND the experiences of others. So whether you’re writing or reading someone else’s blog, listen…comment…engage…gain some insight & experience!

  13. Daniel Rothamel

    June 8, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    This post typifies everything that makes Agent Genius, and the larger real estate blogosphere, such wonderful and enriching communities. It is because of posts like this, and the sentiments they express, that I am proud to be a member of both.

    Rock on!

  14. Jeremy Hart

    June 9, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Bravo, bravo.

    Russell, the Isaac Newton quote has been in my wallet for years. Just had to write it on a new card because the last card had been worn out. Love it.

    Thanks for the pick me up this morning, everyone!

  15. Agent for Movoto

    December 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    so true, in all walks of life. thanks for posting!

  16. Greg Cooper

    December 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    A perfect post for the time of year. A nice reminder how important it is to give back, contribute to and participate in the ENTIRE business we’re in….not just our own little world. Reading this post reiterated to me of how much our business lost this year in Joe Ferrera and Laurie Manny among others. It also reminded me of why we need to work a bit more to show our appreciation for those who are constantly sharing so much. Thanks B!

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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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