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“You should blog about that.”




Running out of ideas.

There comes a time in every blogger’s life where it seems as if the well has run dry. There’s no ideas, there’s nothing exciting to report, and one more photo post will drive them over the edge. Recently, this hasn’t been the case with me, but I have had it happen. As a new real estate blogger it happened a lot. Who am I and what do I have to contribute to a world overcrowded with real estate blogs (and some darn good ones at that)? On top of the numbers of blogs out there (just wait until more agents begin blogging), there is the “I’m new, who’s going to listen to me?” factor.

It took me awhile to get over those feelings, but I did eventually. The secret? Stop fearing and start blogging. I just sort of dove in head first and let the rest sort itself out. I learned what I liked along the way and found my “voice,” but it took posts that I look back at now and wish I hadn’t written (which reminds me, I should take those concepts and write them again, now that I have more confidence as a blogger).

There are ideas everywhere.

I had this reinforced by Kristin Moran the other day while we were talking about a particular experience that had her a bit riled up. We were laughing about the situation and she mentioned that when she goes home with news – good or bad, her husband often says, “You should blog about that.” When I heard her say it, I passed over it as just part of our conversation. The other day, I had a bit of a situation with Flickr that had my panties in a bunch. I was complaining about it to Kristin when she reminded me of her husband and his reminder to her – “You should blog about that.”

And so I did. I wrote about it over on ActiveRain and the response has been incredible. I didn’t write for much more than to blow some steam and express my frustration, but I wrote it none the less. Sometimes the most obvious things that we don’t write about are the things that people want to hear. Writing it was my way of getting it off my chest, but it turns out there were other people out there that wanted to talk about it too.

Isn’t that what blogging is all about? Finding a connection, relating one thing or person to another, opening up a conversation? And once we’ve done that, we can get down to the rest of what it is we do as agents. But the first step is opening up the lines. When you’re stuck, in doubt, or just want another post – look around you. What happened today? What questions were you asked? Where were you? Who taught you something new? Ask questions and you’ll have an answer – “You should blog about that.”

photo courtesy of nicasaurusrex

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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  1. Ian Greenleigh

    August 5, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    They say in screenwriting that you should set a goal to write X number of pages a day, regardless of quality. It’s about learning the process, learning your element, what you’re good at and not so good at. I do both, blogging and (attempted) screenwriting, so I think the rule applies to both.

  2. Brandon Green

    August 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I find the best way to blog about real estate is to read a lot about it, both pertaining to my home market of Metro Washington, DC, as well as the industry in general.

  3. Kristin Espraza

    August 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    :D. We certainly have had things lately left & right that have given us blog fodder, eh? Thanks for the mention. Wowie-Zowie, a mention on AG, that’s the big time! I am soooooo sending this to Trevor.

  4. RealEstate Babble

    August 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    AgentGenius: “You should blog about that.” Full

  5. Sal Antsipenka

    August 6, 2009 at 12:11 am

    I think a good way of keeping your blog ideas running is to determine a specific nitch. I am interested in international real estate lead generation, international property marketing and shows. My content possibilities are endless with at least a couple of dozen update e-mails a day on international real estate issues, marketing tips, new property show information. I don’t so called rewrite those e-mails, I apply that information to my local business coverage and provide a lot of marketing tips for fellow real estate professionals.

  6. Tim Ryan

    August 6, 2009 at 12:15 am

    I am just starting my blogging and social networking experience. I know this is a lot of work. What are the best websites to start real estate related blogging?

  7. Drew Burks

    August 6, 2009 at 7:47 am

    "You should blog about that." | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius: The Stigliano Chronicles at Age..

  8. Joe Loomer

    August 6, 2009 at 9:04 am

    @Tim – here is a great place to start!

    @Matt – I’ve hit that wall a couple of times, and you and other AG contributors have helped me climb it. I’m actually four-up on my golf foursome – have won the last three outings, and might blog about that!

    All kidding aside, while I was thinking about it yesterday (after delivering a solid – 7-stroke victory with a birdie at 18 – pat pat pat my own back), I though about the need to take personal time and degauze. We all have found ourselves having to work harder and smarter in the Shift, and if you don’t “force” yourself to take a breather, it can literally affect your health. Never thought about blogging about it – now thanks to you I will!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  9. Jim Gatos

    August 6, 2009 at 9:27 am

    My problem isn’t running out of ideas. My problem is actually writing them out. After playing around with Scribefire and Windows LiveWriter, I am just using the Typepad interface directly. Also, all this typing hurt my fingers so badly I will be going to a doctor specialist tomorrow..

  10. Matt Stigliano

    August 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Ian – I think you can really apply it to a lot of things. I used to get better at guitar the more shows I played in a row. Have a day off? My skills seemed to drop off a bit. It’s about comfort and confidence.

    Brandon – Some of my best posts were written immediately after I had read something. Whether it was the actual facts or just the feeling a post gave me, I had to sit down and write.

    Kristin – I was going to use Trevor’s name, but wanted to clear it with you, but didn’t want to spoil the surprise of what the post was about. I hope you likes the fact that he keeps you thinking – and now me and a bunch of other AgentGenius readers as well.

    Sal – I agree and disagree with you. I think having a niche is good, but allowing your topics to cover a wider spectrum allows for a wider audience. Someone might not be googling “international real estate” but if they came across it, they might pay attention, because it’s something they’re interested in.

    Tim – I’m sending you an email to discuss some ideas a bit further. I was checking out your site and had some questions for you as well, so I figured it’d be one of the best ways. PS Joe’s point of here being a great place to start is good too!

    Joe – And that sort of post is the one that will let a reader say, “Hey, I like this guy. He reminded me that I’ve been a bit overloaded lately and need a few minutes to myself.” Trust Factor – 1. Remaining an anonymous blogger – 0.

    Jim – One of the things I hear the most is lack of time or focus to write so much. Some of us are blessed with a way to squeeze it in there, some aren’t. You just have to make the time and maintain the focus. The more it happens on a consistent basis, the easier it becomes to fit it in. As for the typing – I know what you mean.

  11. Erion Shehaj

    August 6, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I find that my best posts originate from ideas that I’m passionately happy/angry/excited/disappointed about. When I write just to write, I usually end up with warmed up leftovers and let’s be honest who wants to read those. But practice definitely improves your writing so I say pick content from your life that you are passionate about and write about it consistently.

  12. I keep a running list of topics to write about; and I have tons of rough drafts started. When I just can’t think about what to write; I go back and look at my rough draft folder and just get one of my “half-finished” posts, finished.

  13. Ken Brand

    August 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I’m with you, when I get a little flash “I should blog about this” inspiration I jot it down in my little black moleskin or scrap of paper. Usually what afflicts me is “doubt”. “Doubt” that what I have to say is worth reading.

    I was kicking around with Lynsey Planeta at ICSF and we were chatting about this very subject. We concluded that sometimes you just don’t feel it. When that the main thing is not to beat yourself up, don’t quit and like Ian shared, just write.


  14. Matt Stigliano

    August 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Erion – Passion in anything you do will make life a lot better. Diving into something without passion can make for a dull event. It’s the passion that makes it enjoyable and pushes you to work harder.

    Kathy – I typically don’t write much of my ideas down. Sometimes I do forget them because of this, but when they suddenly come back, I write about them with a passion much like Erion mentions. It probably wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

    Ken – I’ve written a lot of posts that I thought “is anyone going to read this?” They tend to be the surprise posts that everyone loves and has a comment about. Funny how that works. I think the takeaway will always be “just write it.” Not every post will be a smash hit, but everyone of them leads to a total body of work that is.

  15. Paula Henry

    August 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Matt – great advice for all of us who struggle with the time factor. I have read it before to jot down ideas – Mariana has mentioned it, as has TBoardman.

    My problem – taking my little book out of purse and leaving it near my computer. Now, I know I need two or three little books for ideas. With little ideas written all over the place, it may help make the writing part easier.

    I’ll let you know as soon as I find my little book 🙂

  16. Missy Caulk

    August 10, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Matt, that was a great post on AR.

    We all go through dry spells. I set up a folder on Mail. When I read something or an idea pops in my head I drag it to FUTURE THINGS TO BLOG ON.

    Sometimes when I look back the inspiration is gone for that topic but then something will jump out at me.

  17. Matt Stigliano

    August 10, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Paula – I too struggle with having things to jot ideas or notes down in, but then leaving them in the place that I’m not. I always keep scrap paper nearby – although not as efficient as a notebook, I have learned to organize the scraps. It doesn’t look pretty but it works.

    Missy – That’s a good idea. I keep a lot of mail and I often find inspiration in it (or even send myself emails of things I want to remind myself of). Keeping a folder like that would probably work well for me!

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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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