Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate #7: Market Your Listings
Preface Start: Shut it. I don’t want to hear the nay-sayers that say that real estate bloggers should not blog about their listings. lalalalalalalala. I can’t hear you!
Here’s the deal: I am a real estate agent before I am a blogger. In fact, I am a lot of things before I am a blogger. This means that there are things that are more important than blogging and one of those things is the promise that I make to my seller clients:
“I promise to promote your property to as many potential buyers and their agents as possible.”
Another promise I make is a little more subtle, and is aimed at everyone who finds my blog:
“I promise that my Colorado Springs Real Estate blog will be about real estate.”
Given those 2 promises, it is natural to assume that you will find listings on my blog. Preface End.
A great way to use blogging in real estate is to blog about your listings. This does 3 great things:
1. Your Listings Can Be “Googled”
When you blog about your listings, you are making those properties show up on Google more often. Sellers love that … and so does anyone who drives by a property, jotts down the address and then goes back home and “Googles It” for more information. (Sniff. Sniff. Do I smell a potential new client opportunity?)
When we are talking to potential seller clients, we ask them to Google any of our listings’ addresses. When they do, they see that our advertising is ALL OVER the first page of Google (to include our blog posts) and *poof* become impressed.
Tip: Make sure at least part of the address is in the title.
2. Your Listings Are Naturally Keyword-Rich
When you are creating a post about one of the fine homes that you chose to list, market and sell, you can now add your desired keywords in more places (naturally) than trying to get them all in a non-listing post. What a great opportunity to talk to Google in a language they love = keyword rich content.
Tip: Make sure you add your keywords to the descriptions when blogging about your listings and earn a little more Google Love.
3. Your Listings Are Perfect Real Estate Content
People visit real estate blogs for many reasons, but the main reason is because they want to read about real estate. Go figure! IN addition to all your other great real estate posts*, blogging about your listings give give home buyers the opportunity to see what kind of homes are available in specific areas and specific price ranges.
Tip: When you are having trouble coming up with a great blog post for your real estate blog, consider finding a similarity between 3-5 of your listings and create a “Featured Homes in XXX” Post. (Example: Featured Homes for Sale in Springs Ranch Colorado Springs)
A blogged listing should include:
- Pictures – Or at least one picture and a link to where they can find more pictures (like a Flickr account or VFyer).
- Virtual Tour – Or a link to the Virtual Tour. I like embedding my Real Estate Shows in my blogged listings.
- Description – A comprehensive description of the home and the area that the home is in. (This would be a great place for keywords.)
- Your Contact Information – Der.
- Neighborhood Link – Preferably one to a post that YOU have written about that neighborhood.
- Community Links – Area schools, utility department, local amenities …
- IDX Links:
- General – Search Homes for Sale in [area]
- Neighborhood – Search Homes for Sale in [neighborhood]
- Price Range – Search Homes for Sale in [price range of listing]
- Map – You can embed a Google Map which will give readers a GREAT idea where the property is in relation to everything else. (Thanks Elaine!)
*Now, don’t go overboard… Blogging about your listings should NOT be an obnoxious sales pitch and should be just a facet of your real estate blog, coupled with all the other wonderful real estate-y things you have to share with your readers (and search engines).
However, when done correctly, an effectively blogged listing can impress your sellers, get the attention of buyers and help you rank in the search engines.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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:
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.
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 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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