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Is Social Media for Real Estate a Replacement for Blogging? [blog vs. microblog]

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coffee-no-waterThe short answer is no

Many seem to think that being live in social media spaces and chatting it up with the folks is a more robust way of accomplishing the same feat as blogging, but they go hand in hand.  Put simply, blogging is part of social media, but in my view, it’s still only a two dimensional conversation and social networking (chatting it up with the folks) brings you ‘multi-deminsional.’

Social media and blogging have limits

Either way you spin it, when you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, your reach is limited to when you’re present- limited profiles, limited characters to articulate a position, and quite frankly, absolutely very little Google power.

On the flip side, when blogging without the use of social media spaces like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, the audience is left with only a rough edge view of who you are.  Sure, they know what you’re saying, and know you’re passionate about it, but the personal connection is limited.

2 + 2 = robust

Now, adding these two powerful elements together, both blogging and a presence in social media spaces, the folks really begin to get a sense of who you are, what you stand for, and a more personal connection with your brand- the opportunities to find more commonalities with future consumers is improved immensely.

It is another way for Realtors to shine in social media despite the challenge of not having a tangible product on a shelf to sell… in a social network, a blog acts as an instant service identifier (for example: commercial broker blogs vs. first time buyer agent blogs). Social networking is powerful because it brings a blog multi-dimensional and expands its reach.

Coffee with no water

So, if you joined a social network in recent days, weeks, or months, as an alternative to blogging, I’m sorry to disappoint you- you simply will not grab as much of a market share as you would if you had a quality blog to supplement it- in fact, your blog is your personal community, and without it, you’re missing a foundation.

Can you have one without the other? Sure, but only if you like cereal without milk, coffee without water, a laptop without internet, or maybe a grilled cheese minus the bread- I can do these all day, but I think you get the point.

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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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Doug Francis

    May 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

    The time on FB needs to compliment what you are doing elsewhere in your marketing efforts. So a good strategy is to set up time maximums for each marketing effort and don’t let one (like FB) monopolize your time.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    May 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Benn – This just goes back to your solution in a box theory. If you’re looking for a cure all, you’re not going to find it. Like many things in life, it takes a combination of disciplines to truly get where you want to go.

  3. Lani Rosales

    May 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Matt, I agree with Benn’s theories tying together- so many people are looking for the magic potion that is free and doesn’t take any time and it simply doesn’t exist. Others get so wrapped up in the sparkly nature of Twitter that they forget effective blogging as their foundation. All of these things are tools and they go in a toolbox, they are not the toolbox itself, the user is.

    Benn, I <3 the “grilled cheese with no bread” line. Priceless! 🙂

  4. Elaine Reese

    May 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I agree that each one has its own strategy. My blog is hyper local and I try to write whatever I might say to someone sitting across from me – as if they were a client. Once in a while, I write more as if I were talking to a friend with hopefully some humor thrown in. My blog gets bu$ine$$.

    LinkedIn is strictly for professional connections, with my focus on my former corporate contacts, so they remember what business I’m in now. Twitter is more for water cooler chit-chats, but I avoid getting too personal or detailing what I do every hour of the day. I am finding that it’s being picked up by Google, so I’m making sure I throw in some business tweets as well.

    I’ve had agents say they don’t have time for “this stuff” – often while they’re putting postage stamps on little mailing calendars or Just Listed cards. The social media is just another form of prospecting and should be viewed as such. I personally find it far more productive, more fun, and far cheaper than placing stamps. We all do what we feel is best for our own business. Social media definitely isn’t for everyone, and certainly shouldn’t take the place of valuable FTF sphere time.

  5. Karen Goodman

    May 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I agree that Twitter/Facebook play a very different role in my marketing compared to my blog. On Twitter, and Facebook to a lesser extent, I get a chance to get to know people. I have live conversations and show people my personality. They get to see that I truly care about my clients, care about my community and offer a helping hand wherever I can.

    Just today I had someone sent me a tweet “if we were moving, i would give you a call”.

    But, I know that being friendly and helpful isn’t enough. Before someone chooses to hire a real estate agent, they want to know that the agent really understands the market. They need to know how the agent approaches assisting buyers and sellers.

    I really believe that without my blog, my Twitter followers wouldn’t take me as seriously. And without Twitter, many potential buyers and sellers would not know I’m out there.

    But together, I’ve got a winning strategy.

    @karenstl

  6. Benn Rosales

    May 4, 2009 at 9:40 am

    @karenstl You hit the nail on the head, and what personal way of delivering the point- it’s obvious you get it.

    @rockstar you’re just a rockstar all the way around

    @Elaine I think you bring up a valuable point that it takes a little trial and error to balance, not try and do all things, but rather do what you do on purpose and very well

    @laniar I love it when you laugh 🙂

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    May 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    It’s almost like firearms training. Military and police forces are taught to place two rounds to the chest and one to the head. They do this to ensure a final result. The first center-mass shot may do the trick, but you want to make sure. This requires great skill and practice.

    This as opposed to a “shot gun” attempt that most agents use. Which doesn’t ensure a “kill” and requires little to no skill.

    All this to say, that the agent needs to know what they goals are, what tools are available and what combination of practices yield the desired results.

    “Free” rarely has good ROI. However some free tools used to augment the marketing practices that cost money help with the overall marketing program. Reading marketing materials (outside of real estate as well) and industry statistics, and just listening to the clients will help practitioners be well rounded.

    Having said all that, I do think a good blog eliminates the need for a static webpage. Having a list of too many assets to update, usually means that agents fail to maintain them.

  8. Missy Caulk

    May 4, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I use them all differently from my local blog, AR blog, Twitter and Facebook. So far only my blogging has brought in clients.

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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

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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