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Working with Tina – In Search of a Contact Management Solution

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I normally don’t do one on one coaching. My technology coaching is done with small groups but it works very well.
I made a special expception when Tina McManus contacted me. After 20 years as a corporate salesperson, Tina McManus started a new career as a real estate agent. An agent since 2002, she finds the responsibility of handling the myriad details, keeping clients informed, answering questions and concerns, and guiding the transaction smoothly to closing overwhelming.

Tina has consistently invested in up-to-date technologies, continuous education, and made a commitment to stay current with best practices.  But a system to simplify “the day is day” still eludes her. She asked me to help her with that and I agreed.

Tina said to me, “On our coaching call, I’d like to discuss Contact Management.  Right now, I use Sharper Agent for both my e-mail marketing and contact manager.  It’s fairly basic, but it does automatically update a contact’s file when I send a marketing piece out.  I also use Outlook 2007 for e-mail.”

“My question is; should I continue to use this or should I migrate to a more complex contact management system like Top Producer? In other words; what is the best way to streamline passing contracts and paperwork back & forth between clients, co-brokes, attorneys, etc.  and what is the best way to file & store them electronically.  I have a tablet PC, but am not really using it.”

So the search begins. What features does she want? Possibly web based, work with her mobile phone. Needs customized check lists and drip marketing with a database with recurring appointments

We narrowed it down to a few to explore:

  • Point2agent.com
  • TopProducer
  • Howard and friends
  • Wiseagent.com
  • And a brand new one from Redx called  RolEDX Lead Manager

Although Tina preers a web based product she discussed the benefit of having something that works off line and integrates with Outlook.
We found add ons for Outlook and she is looking at Eurekaware.com

    And last by not least, a transaction management platform that works with Tina’s MLS, which is called Settleroom.com
    Next week we will discuss the  two products we decided to investigate further and why. Stay tuned!

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    30 Comments

    30 Comments

    1. Loren Nason

      June 22, 2009 at 12:08 am

      ooops, somehow hit submit w/o filling this out.

      Now, tie the outlook and eurekaware solution with Hosted Exchange and you have web based, and you have full sync, with Almost ALL phones including Palm, BB, iPhone and windows mobile.

      There is also https://www.sonomaenterprises.com/outlook.htm
      that has a decent outlook extension for real estate

    2. Matt Thomson

      June 22, 2009 at 10:17 am

      I’ll stayed glued to this one, as it’s been a struggle for me. I dropped Top Producer in March, simply due to cost, and switched to WiseAgent. I’m about ready to drop that too, simply because I’m not seeing the value.
      I, too, want web-based.
      I’m very interested in what you come up with.

    3. LesleyLambert

      June 22, 2009 at 11:50 am

      I have point2 for website, but I don’t utilize it well for contacts. I will stay tuned here!

    4. Fred Romano

      June 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm

      I use Gmail for everything, store everything electronically on my pc using primo PDF (free software) to create PDF’s for everything. And anything that needs to be printed, I scan after I’m done and recycle the hard copy. Trying to go green here to save paper and space. It really simplifies life. I don’t use automated drip emails anymore, it just irritates most folks. – Fred

    5. Matthew Hardy

      June 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm

      I am an expert in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and it’s kid cousin contact management and would be happy to discuss/compare/debate the topic at any level allowed here on AG or offline.

    6. Russell Shaw

      June 23, 2009 at 3:23 am

      Matthew Hardy is truly an expert on this subject. And a very nice and intelligent guy too boot.

    7. Russell Shaw

      June 23, 2009 at 3:24 am

      Should be, “to boot”. 🙂

    8. Matthew Hardy

      June 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

      I’ll take a “boot” from Russell – the smartest guy in real estate – any day! 😉

    9. BawldGuy

      June 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm

      Speaking from personal experience with both Matthew Hardy and his CRM app REST, I can tell you four things.

      1. We researched both on & offline solutions ’till we almost went blind.

      2. REST, in my opinion is so far superior it’s competition, it’s like comparing Pete Rose to the Lake Elsinore batting champ.

      3. The support is literally setting a new standard. It begins at ‘above and beyond’ and gets better.

      4. WAY affordable.

    10. Missy Caulk

      June 24, 2009 at 8:11 am

      I used Outlook for years, switched to the Mac, tried their version of outlook and hated it so now use Mail. Not as good as outlook but I love my Mac.

      We use WiseAgent for managing all of out teams transactions. Mainly my assistant uses it. The support is great.

      I have yet to sync my BB with the Mac since December, only 2 3rd party softwares to do it and on all the forums some like one, some like the other and some need to use both to get it to work.

      Thinking about just switching Iphone with MobileMe to sync.

    11. BawldGuy

      June 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

      Hey Missy — I’ve never understood folks preferring Mail over Entourage on Macs. Yet, I seem to be in the distinct minority on this one. IMHO Entourage crushes Mail. Even my son thinks I’m out to lunch on this one. 🙂

      If you use your BB to access your local MLS, find out if iPhone can access it. It’s about 9-1 odds it can’t.

    12. Amy Chorew

      June 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Mr Hardy, why don’t you contact me and set Tina up with a trial account or a demo so we can compare the products to what we are looking for?

    13. Alex Mazzeo

      June 29, 2009 at 2:09 am

      I too am quite interested in this subject of a good CRM. As a sole agent, not working on a team, I need a solution to keep me on task and up to date with all that needs to be done in this business. I’ve used Top Producer and didn’t want to keep paying that much for it. It seemed to OK as a solution but has too many functions I just do use .. at least not at this point or level of business.
      I’m not familiar with REST that was mentiond on this post but will deifintely give it a look as soon as I can find it.

      Is anyone familiar with or had experience with a CRM called LeadCommander? It seems to be quite robust and also seems to have just about everything I’d need. I’d appreciate any response to my inquiry. I too will keep a close eye on this stream to see what comes of it.

    14. Matthew Hardy

      June 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      @ Amy

      Will do. I will contact you today and arrange to get demo copies of REST for both of you. We can also do a live, screen-sharing demo to get all your questions answered.

      @ Alex “as soon as I can find it”

      Our primary domain is: realestatesuccesstools.com where you’ll find our Contact Up page and phone number. Also, feel free to contact me personally. I’m on Twitter: @MatthewHardy

    15. Alex Mazzeo

      June 30, 2009 at 1:01 am

      Thank you .. I actually went to the site and previewed the software … and I think I’m convinced. I appears to be everything I was looking for. It’s a bit more expensive than LeadCommander but I think I like it better.

    16. Matthew Hardy

      June 30, 2009 at 2:07 am

      @Alex

      Thank you Alex; I am truly grateful. Please let me know if there is something you *are* looking for that you haven’t found yet. I’d like to either show you that it already exists, explain why we didn’t do it or consider adding it. Our approach is to take any appropriately good idea and abstract it so that any customer could use it.

      I appreciate your comment about cost. Here’s my approach: I buy the best software for the task regardless of the cost. Some applications cost a great deal of money. But ROI is what I’m really concerned with. The most expensive software? Software that wasted your time in the sense that your business interests weren’t forwarded. Next, software you paid for but don’t use. The value of software *can* be so great that cost becomes negligible. Even when it’s 30, 50, 100k or more.

    17. John C

      July 22, 2009 at 11:41 pm

      @Missy – I just switched to Mac a couple of weeks ago, and just synced my BB today. I downloaded this free software and it worked first time. Like everyone that has commented, I am in search of the best CRM solution (esp for small brokerages). It seems I have my contacts and info spread across my BB, an excel spreadsheet, my MLS system, and constant contact.

      here is the link to the mac / BB sync software:

      https://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/mac.jsp

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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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