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12 Steps To Set Up Twitter



twitter tools

I was overly reluctant…

…to join in to the Twitter party because I didn’t think I needed yet another “social network.” To be honest, I didn’t know what Twitter was- I thought it was another Facebook where you write on walls, poke people and have to filter a billion strangers requesting to be your “friend” (okay, maybe hundreds, not billions, I’m not that popular).

I was wrong…

…twitter is not quite instant messaging, but is similar in that you “follow” people and they “follow” you and in under 140 characters, you summarize what you’re doing, what you’re reading, what you’re blogging, or what you’re thinking. It satisfies my need for instant gratification as the community shares in discussion.

Part of the fear…

…of trying a new technology is not just the learning curve, but the fear of something new- if tech savvy people are using it, it must be complicated, right? Wrong. Let’s just break through that fear and set up a Twitter account, shall we? Follow along to set up your account (and if you’re in an overexcited rush, skip the “details” section of each step’s instructions).

Go to right now. You’ll see the screen below, click the green “Get Started-Join” button. (Details: this is where you’ll come to log in next time, so remember your chosen “user name” and password.)

twitter set up step 1

Select a username (it will tell you immediately if it’s available), password, valid email address for updates to be sent to (I suggest a primary email), enter the captcha and permit or deny Twitter to email you news. Click accept. (Details: I suggest using a short, memorable username with your name in it unless you have a nickname that you’re willing to allow clients to see. I suggest your primary email as the signup because you may need your Twitter messages from other users to go there.)

twitter set up step 2

Here, you’ll either (1) log in to your email and see if your contacts there are also on Twitter, OR do as I do and (2) click the hidden “skip” button in the upper right corner. In Step Twelve, I’ll show you how to instantly have nearly 100 Twitter friends. (Details: I suggest skipping this step and going back to it to insure you haven’t missed anyone.)

twitter set up step 3

Now you have a Twitter account. This is your “dashboard.” Time to customize your dashboard and to set up your information for viewers to see by clicking “Settings” in the upper right corner.

twitter set up step 4

Automatically, you’re in the “Account” panel. You can publish your real name here, tell Twitter your time zone, enter your URL (blog, website, whatever you want people to be directed to which is visible to the public), a quick bio (being clever is great) and your location. (Details: all this info is accessible to the public. You DO have the option to make your updates (your “twits”) private meaning you have to give permission for people to see what you’re doing and when. I think this is a barrier to the community, so I don’t suggest it unless you get a large following of stalkers.)

twitter set up step 5

Up top, click “Phone & IM.” Some people have their Twitter set up with their cell phone (or instant messenger) so they can see when someone has directly messaged them, but I steer clear because I enjoy being married. (Details: text messaging rates apply, so if you plan on using this method, check on your texting package with your cell provider. My “following” is too big and too active to have it set up on my phone, but I will temporarily have it on text for conferences like REBarCamp08 or SXSWi.)

twitter set up step 6

Up top, click “Notices.” Select the options for what level of notifications you want sent to your email or phone. (Details: you can come back and change this as your “following” grows, it’s flexible.)

twitter set up step 7

Up top, click “Picture.” Upload a picture of yourself or your logo (the popular way is a picture). I uploaded this chick because she’s cute- that’s not me, that’s FakestUser. This picture will be your avatar next to every “twit” message you send out.

twitter set up step 8

Up top, click “Design.” This will customize your dashboard and will show people a personal side of you, so don’t be stiff and corporate, be fun! By clicking on any of the colors, you can select a new color on the color map. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get a great combo! (Details: I also LOVE using a background image and I change it frequently. If it’s a small image, make sure to tile it or it’ll be a tiny pic in the corner.)

twitter set up step 9

Click “Home” to get back to your Dashboard to see what damage you’ve done! Twitter always asks “what are you doing?” and in 140 characters, you get to tell the world! (Details: Here, I typed “I’m setting up this fake account. I can has forgery?” and see the number 87 in the corner? That’s how many characters I have left- it counts down for me!)

twitter set up step 10

Now you’re a twitterer and you twit with your twitbuds! To twit with someone, the @ sign before their screen name alerts them that you’re talking to them.

twitter set up step 11

The way you can immediately connect with the blogiverse is to go to and click the follow button. Following AG on Twitter is great because your twitter messages will become instant links in the G-Feeds (check it out now!) in real time! Agent Genius is not just a blogging community but a micro-blogging community where anyone can check out live what is going on at any given moment which expands our content exponentially.

Now, you can see everything agentgenius is twittering and when they follow you back, you can then see each other. Then, on the right of the agentgenius sidebar, click the word “following” to see who agentgenius is following. There, you can click “follow” all day long! Remember, some will and some won’t follow in return- they may not be using Twitter frequently or they may not know you (like if you follow Britney Spears or something).

In 12 steps, you’ve paved your own way to a new social network! *New* Twits- tell us your new Twitter screen name in the comments after you’ve followed agentgenius! Coming up is an array of tools that will rock out your new Twit life.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Mark

    February 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    It’s a great list! But now you’ve got to add how to use hashtags (#’s) to tag tweets! On Twitter, I’m

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    February 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Mark, i’ll write about tags, take a deep breath- inhale, exhale… 😉 This is just the beginning, we’ll be rockin’ out Twitter showing readers all the hip new tools!

  3. Candy Lynn

    February 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    @LaniAR Great guide to Twitter – you need to add one of those warnings *** caution Tweeting is addicting!****

  4. Vicki Moore

    February 18, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna.

    Okay. It’s done – sort of.

  5. Andy Kaufman

    February 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    @candylynn- funny you should mention that.

    Last October, I tried to entice someone that we all know and love to start Twittering. In response I got…

    “please don’t be an Internet crack dealer- I’m already addicted to so many technerd things and my brain doesn’t have room for twitter, I hope you understand…”

    Yeah, I understood….Like all interweb crack dealers, I understood that soon she’d see the light.

    Of course I was right. She ended up trying Twitter and now is a budding TwitterStar.

    Then just yesterday I receive this gem for her…

    “the thing with crack is that once you get hooked, even if you didn’t want to in the first place, it’s too late. oh how i hate you, techCrack!”

    Now she’s pushing interweb crack herself with this awesome “how to” post. Way to go @laniAR!!

    ::insert evil laugh here::

  6. Mark

    February 18, 2008 at 7:14 pm

  7. Teresa Boardman

    February 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Twitter got a lot noisier when you joined. 🙂 I don’t have much time to tweet and sometimes all I can do is lurk. I try to keep my face out of my blackberry when I am with people which is hard to do. What we write in twitter is very quickly indexed by google and that should be taken into consideration before tweeting.

  8. Vicki Moore

    February 18, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Teresa – Thanks for the info. Had no idea. I can’t imagine keeping up with it. I get yelled at by my friends for not keeping up with Facebook. I’m definitely not Gen Y. 🙂

  9. Andy Kaufman

    February 18, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    “What we write in twitter is very quickly indexed by google and that should be taken into consideration before tweeting.”

    Very important!!! Twittering is micro-broadcasting. Don’t tweet anything that you do not want getting out.

  10. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    February 18, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Great point and most certainly a caveat all should heed- it isn’t a non-indexed chat room. The great thing about it being indexed (seen by Google and comes up in searches) is that you can link to “tweets” like Ines did the yesterday.

  11. Christoph Schweiger

    February 18, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    What a coincidence! I set up my twitter account this afternoon, just before you posted this blog entry. Like you, I was reluctant at first. Not because I was afraid of new technology, it was more the concern of leaving permanent footprints on the internet.

  12. Steven

    February 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm


    Nice list. I must say that I don’t really understand the point of twitter. I guess I havn’t read enough about it. I will tell you one thing I do understand. I read Benn’s post the other day about twitterfeeds and added my blog feeds to my twitter account and started following AG. I was getting my posts crawled about every 3rd day on my blog. Today I wrote a post about a new series I am starting tomorrow and I found it on google 25 minutes after the twitterfeed was updated. Everyone who blogs should be on there just for this reason alone and I am sure there are lots of other reasons too.

  13. Ravi Shah

    February 19, 2008 at 8:40 am

    I just joined this weekend and started yesterday. It really is a different online experience!

  14. Robert D. Ashby

    February 20, 2008 at 8:07 am

    And I thought I was a twit before Twitter. Go figure. I have to go look at the “what next” post, because I think most people have become bigger twits than me already.

  15. Mike Farmer

    March 6, 2008 at 8:54 am

    First, I need to get some friends.

  16. Buy iPod Speakers

    June 9, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I’m already on Twitter and I got to say it rocks. I practically twitter every hour or so and keep on checking how many followers I’ve got. On the other hand, Twitter can be a GREAT marketing medium as sos many people hang on to every word you twitter.

  17. DIY

    May 26, 2009 at 10:58 am

    OK! I must look into this. Everyone is sayint Twitter is the way forward. I cannot be left behind.

  18. Letty

    November 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I just set up my twitter account, or should I say I just opened it with the basics, I’m working right now so I’ll get back to it this evening to personalize it.
    Thanks for the 12 steps. I’m new to this newest technology (I had just recently figured out my space:)

    hope to here from you all soon!

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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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