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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate #4

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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate #4:

Use Blogging to Humanize the Online Experience
People like doing business with people, not businesses.

Let me say that again…

People like doing business with PEOPLE, not businesses.

… and businesses (of all sorts) are starting to catch on. Think about some commercials that we hear all the time … ones that stand out:

Those are real people representing their now-wildly-successful businesses. Real Estate blogging gives you the opportunity on a local level to be the “voice” and “face” of real estate, much like these guys have now become a voice and face for diamonds and dating.

There was a particularly interesting article about Humanizing the Online Experience, by Robert Williams. He points out that there is a great need for human contact in the internet:

Search is my favorite online tool. I use it daily. But search doesn’t tell you things, it only finds things — lots of things. And brings them all back to you like a mad, overachieving Labrador Retriever, leaving you to sift through the pile, looking for what you really want. That’s when search is operating as designed. However, if you’re not sure or clear enough, if you’re not using the right words or phrases when searching, then you’ll be left with a potentially never-ending task looking for that desired needle in the digital haystack.”

Can you imagine the immense haystack potential home buyers and sellers find themselves in when they begin their online search for real estate help? It is ridiculous how many real estate related things are online.

What blogging does is MAKE SENSE of online real estate information.

Blogging gives real estate professionals the ability to prove that you are the expert in a way that makes online home buyers and sellers actually understand exactly what it is you are the expert of.

How do I humanize the online real estate experience with my real estate blog?

  • First, write your blog posts like you would write an email – professional, but not insanely formal. Blogs are not meant to be dissertations on the science and philosophy of the field of real estate studies yadda yadda yadda. Blogging is a conversation that you are having with your readers. (Just make sure you Speak English Good.) Yes, at first, it will feel like a conversation that you are having with yourself and the few spam commenters that find your blog, but eventually it will be a conversation that you have with your readers… the folks out there looking to eventually do business with you. Write your blog in a “tone” that you would use if you were responding to an email.
  • Second, don’t be afraid to let your personality show through your blog posts. This is called your “voice” … Now, if you are a complete jerk, you may want to reconsider being in real estate all together, as there are enough jerks out there and I’m pretty sure the Real Estate Jerk Quota is full. Try back later.

Your personality will attract more people than just a bunch of statistics and data on a computer screen. In addition to people wanting to do business with people … people like doing business with people they know. Letting your personality shine through your writing will get people to know you before they even “meet” you.

  • Third, explain things in terms that your target audience will understand. YOU may know what a FSBO and a REO is. YOU may know what DOM and absorption rate is. YOU may know all the lingo and terms that are now a part of your everyday language… but the everyday public may not.

Stand out from your competition. Don’t just HAVE an About Me page … BE your About Me Page.

Read Also:
Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate: Introduction
Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate: #1 Use Blogging as a Farming Tool
Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate: #2 Answer Real Estate FAQ’s Just Once
Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate: #3 Use Blogging to Become a Niche Expert

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Ken Smith

    July 9, 2008 at 8:31 am

    “Third, explain things in terms that your target audience will understand. YOU may know what a FSBO and a REO is. YOU may know what DOM and absorption rate is. YOU may know all the lingo and terms that are now a part of your everyday language… but the everyday public may not.”

    SO important IMO. Industry Jargon can cause a person to not understand what you are talking about in your blog posts or conversations. To put it in perspective talk to a true car person about cars, or about computers to an IT person. You are going to get terms that you have no clue about tossed at you, how does it make you feel? How much interest do you have in the conversation at this point?

  2. Paula Henry

    July 9, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Mariana –

    Jerk quota full – love it!

    I tried so hard when I first started out, there was absolutely no personality there. I just kept on with encouragement and great examples from people like you in the industry. Still learning and working on it 🙂

    Being your “about me” page is excellent advice and hard to implement. Many mistake it as talking about themselves, rather than imparting their personality.

  3. Glenn fm Naples

    July 9, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Ken makes a good point in his post above. When writing or speaking people have a tendency to use abbreviations or anacronyms. We have actually included in our posts right here – FSBO, REO, DOM, IMO – yes we know what they mean, but someone less familiar with the terms will not have an idea of what is being said. We might need to write and express ourselves at a lower level that a layperson can understand.

  4. Mariana

    July 9, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Ken – You are right. A lot of the time “professionals” don’t, or forget to, get outside of themselves to understand how they are (or are not) being understood by the consumer.

    Paula – Exactly… BEING your About Me page is not just talking about yourself. it is BEING yourself.

    Glenn – I believe that most (not all) websites should be aimed at HS or mid-college level, in terms of writing. That will appeal to most of the folks out there surfing online.

  5. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Identifying your target audience is absolutely a vital part of blogging. You speak differently to real estate investors that turn 100 deals a year, than you do a person that is a 1st time home buyer. You talk up or down, depending on whom you are trying to appeal to that may read your writings.

  6. Mike Taylor

    July 10, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I think finding your audience is something many bloggers struggle with. Many of us blog on several different platforms which potentially have vastly different audiences. On your local blog, I believe that while you are more likely to get comments from other agents you really need to target the consumer who will likely never post a comment.

  7. Mariana Wagner

    July 10, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Jennifer – Yes. A lot of being a real estate agent (and blogger) is knowing who your audience is. In fact – I belive that is the case in any industry.

    Mike – Thank you! I JUST was trying to explain the “comment” thing to someone. I told them that your job as a real estate blogger is to get TRAFFIC that turns into BUSINESS – not comments. I would take a client over a comment ANY day.

  8. Ken Smith

    July 10, 2008 at 9:58 am

    “On your local blog, I believe that while you are more likely to get comments from other agents you really need to target the consumer who will likely never post a comment.”

    Exactly! If you need comments to make yourself feel better then create a separate blog to target agents, but keep that content off your consumer focused blog. Amazes me how many agents think that rants about their MLS, or another agent, or NAR, or ….. belong on their consumer focused blog.

    If you want clients write consumer focused content and focus on generating leads. Personally money in the bank makes me feel much better then getting 20 comments from agents looking for a link.

  9. Erin Fogarty

    July 10, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    What a great post, so many agents don’t get it. Your blog should be focused at the consumer, and not at other agents. Your blog should be about local stuff, and the real estate talk should be toned down so the consumer understands the content. If you want to complain about the MLS, that should be reserved for Active Rain. And lol at the “jerk quota”!

    Ken – I totally agree with you!

  10. Toby & Sadie

    July 10, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I love blogging. I love how it allows customers to have a chance to get to know me as me. I’m not going to “hide” behind my blog. Do I lose customers? Sure. Do I gain more? Yep.

    I love your take Mariana and have been busy working with those online – to – real-time clients so have to go back and read the rest of your series.

    Keep up the great work my little MasterMind.

  11. Sue

    July 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Mariana, your posts always make me smile. I agree that knowing your audience is key because that is what will attract buyers and/or sellers. I also think its important to let your personality shine thru, add some interest and pazazz to your posts. Like you do Mariana! We may not all be as good at it though, it takes practice. Sometimes I find that when I just sit and type its better.

  12. Mariana Wagner

    July 11, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Ken – Yep! I have found that the only consumers who ever leave a comment on my blogs are other bloggers. Non-bloggers will rarely leave a comment and I am fine with that.

    Toby and Sadie – Ah! Thank you! I find that when you find your voice, you wind up attracting people who WANT to work with you and who you WANT to work with… which is sweet.

    Sue – I like to write and I like to talk … however it is a constant learning process. I have been doing this for about 2 years now and I am STILL learning soemthing new everyday …

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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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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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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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