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Breaking The Rules – What Twitter Taught Me About Community



Twitter - Search "alltop - rerockstar"

Oh great…another Twitter post?

For those of you that weren’t on Twitter last week or don’t follow me at all, I won second place in Blogworld Expo/Alltop Contest*. The idea of the contest was to get people to go to my Alltop page and click the “retweet” button at the bottom of the screen. Pretty simple.

During the course of giving it a shot, I realized I was actually getting close to the lead and decided to make a push for it. In doing so, I broke one of my own Twitter rules (and a rule most of you swear by as well). I became a broadcast-spam-machine. Of course I wasn’t selling typical spam garbage, but I was constantly repeating myself and just shouting out through the Twitterverse, looking for anyone that would be willing to click a tiny green button. As I thought about it, I was a bit disappointed in myself for breaking that rule, but I did learn a few things.

Twitter Life Lessons From RErockstar.

Broadcasting, not conversing. – Ok, I’m guilty. I broke this rule. I became a shouting machine; asking, begging, screaming for anyone to help. But it worked. Why did it work – we all hate those people don’t we? I think a couple of you voted for me just to shut me up. I don’t blame you. I attribute my success in doing it to a three things: relationships, localization, and a definitive reason.

  • Realtionships are the big winner here. Having a relationship with people made it easy for them to help me. Most people like to see their “friends” succeed (even online friends). Even some people I have only spoke to here or there were confident I wasn’t sending to some sort of spam site. Relationships become trust with time.
  • Localization got me help from people who didn’t care or know what REBlogworld was. I’ve made a point to get to know some of my local Twitter friends and they came out in droves to support me. Best of all, they introduced me to other locals I didn’t know and know I have some new locals to chat with.
  • Having a definitive reason behind what I was doing made it easier for people to swallow. I wasn’t trying to just sell a house, I was trying to learn and promised to bring back what I learned. I gave them a reason to want me to go. Vague “click this” tweets will receive a lot less attention than something that defines who, what, why, when, and how.

Specific targeting works better than casting a wide net. I did a lot of generic tweets. I did a bunch of @replies as well. By targeting specific people, I was able to get their attention. Not everyone reads every tweet in every stream. I saw close personal friends on Twitter for extended periods of time – they weren’t retweeting it. Seconds after sending them an @reply, I saw the retweet. And then they started asking people to help. The more specific the target, the better the response.

It’s hard to describe what to do in 140 characters. Because the word “retweet” was involved, it was very difficult to get people to do what I needed them to do (you had to go to my page and click on the green retweet button). Instead, many people would add the RT to my tweet (or other’s tweets) and send it out on Twitter. Those weren’t counted. I wrote specific instructions of two blog posts and even tweeted them with specific “how to” language. People scan – even on Twitter. Because of this, many saw “retweet” and did what they knew how to do, not what was needed to be done.

When in doubt, offer something in return. I actually started with this theory. Since I needed people to react and perform a specific series of actions, I thought it wise to add some value to the work. I originally offered 10 cents for qualifying retweet to be donated to Mothers Fighting For Others, at around 118 retweets, I began offering 50 cents and by the end I offered up $1 for the last run up to the win. I finished at 139 qualifying retweets. (As a side note – don’t tell @headmutha, but I’ve decided to pay it all as $1/each. Since I’ll be meeting her at Blogworld, I decided to give her a check when I do.)

Last but not least, be thankful. I really appreciated everyone’s help during my quest. I tried to thank everyone personally and I think I got most of them (I’m sure I missed a few). A little appreciation goes a long way. I’ve spoken to a lot of people since then – wishing me the best, chatting about things, asking me questions. We’ve created connections. And connections lead to community.

* Although the point of me referencing Blogworld and Alltop were not for anything more than to explain the backstory, in light of the recent rules regarding blogging and freebies, I don’t want any big old fines to come crashing down on me. I did receive free passes to Blogworld for the contest.

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. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 7, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    ” I became a broadcast-spam-machine. ”

    That’s pretty funny.

    At the end of the day, do you wish you would of just made a donation to that charity and skipped the entire experience?

    Do you think this hurt your twitter “reputation” any?

    I thought you were too busy to even breathe recently..




  2. Fred Romano

    October 8, 2009 at 8:49 am

    That site looks terrible, why would anyone want to visit it? Looks like a bunch of RSS feeds dropped on a page. Seems silly to waste your time tweeting/spamming people for such a lame site. JMO

  3. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Matt – lots of marketing lessons in here, but a bigger lesson in conversion.

    “I wrote specific instructions of two blog posts and even tweeted them with specific “how to” language. People scan – even on Twitter. Because of this, many saw “retweet” and did what they knew how to do, not what was needed to be done.”

    That was the marketing part. People got the message. What follows is the conversion part.

    1) Because people scan – they frequently miss the point of the message and they dont act.
    2) Employ the MISS principle – “Make It Super Simple”. You have to make it idiot proof.

    The “how to” was still to difficult. The AR post was confusing if you scanned it. If you had made it “Send me to ReBlogWorld with 2 Clicks”, then given just two instructions with two buttons (with the reasons why afterward), – you would have won 1st place.

    The biggest marketing message here is what Guy demonstrated. He leveraged his reach to drive a ton of people to his site that otherwise would never have done so. This lesson is a post of its own though.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    October 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Sorry about the bold text everywhere – I forgot to close a tag. Shame on me.

    Rob – The charity donation probably would have happened regardless at some point. I think what they’re doing is great and I’ve never spoken to someone who is so committed to their cause. I was after the BlogWorld passes – that was my goal. The charity tie in just helped me reach my goal. It probably did hurt my reputation with some who weren’t actively involved with me on Twitter. Most of the people I know seemed very supportive. I only had one negative reaction from someone – and they are someone I have only spoken to once or twice and there was no real bond there. One of the great things that came out of this for me personally was a boost in confidence – I quickly learned how many people out there support me as an agent. People I look up and admire. It was a personal ego-booster.

    Fred – By your comments I can’t tell if you’re just commenting on that aspect of the post or you didn’t read the whole thing. My intent was never to advertise for Alltop, although throwing that link out there is a form of advertising. My intent was to get to BlogWorld. I do agree that Alltop is a little simple, but it does come in handy when I’m in a rush and want to scan a few headlines before running off somewhere.

    Bob – Excellent look at how I could have made it better. I thought about how the posts on ActiveRain may have deleted the potential of what I was trying to accomplish. As I admit all the time, I do have trouble with brevity. I am still working on my conversion skills. I wouldn’t say it’s my strongest suit yet. I will be though, especially when I get to see someone else’s viewpoint as I do in your comment. Thanks for making me think a little more about it.

  5. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    It isnt about brevity. Long copy converts really well.

    Wish you could do this again. It would be fun to do one post as a I mentioned above and another using long copy.

  6. Portland Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Twitter spam machines suck. I have been noticing more and more adult ads moving into Twitter too, and I was hoping that would take longer for them to sully up the news streams. My favorite thing about twitter is that you can watch what is happening in the world through the people, not through the tainted news.


  7. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm




  8. Dan Connolly

    October 8, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Well at the end of the day you somehow ended up with free passes to the event, so you did win, even if you weren’t first place, you got what you were hoping for.

    I gave you two or three retweets. I think your fellow Realtor bloggers who understand why you wanted to win would support you but it’s the silent masses who read this stuff and never comment that I would wonder about. I wonder if it helped or hurt with your real estate clients who follow you on Twitter.

    Anyway are you glad that you did it and would you do it again?

  9. Ken Brand

    October 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Rules? I think the “rules” are more like shades of grey.

    Do this, except….

    Don’t do this, except…

    This works for this, but not for that….

    I think experimentation and creativity; when, how, what is wise….it’s called progress.

    I was happy to support you and I didn’t perceive any spamming or inappropriate pimping.


  10. Paula Henry

    October 9, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Congrats Matt! So glad you won and are going to BlogWorld. At some point, I will get to meet you a one of these shindigs.


  11. Rail Life

    October 10, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Hi Matt,
    you make some excellent points. I like, “Having a definitive reason behind what I was doing made it easier for people to swallow.”
    People like to be a part of something and you made this interesting and even fun to cheer for you to win. This was “social” and it was a way for your friends to participate. Yes, it could have been done “better” or different but, in the end, it was what it needed to be. Effective.
    Some people get way too carried away with thinking there always has to be a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter ( or Facebook or ?? )

    I am looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

  12. Matt Stigliano

    October 12, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Bob – I’ll have to look for a new contest to try and match the two up and see how they perform.

    Tyler – No one likes spam – no matter where it comes from. I guess the question is when are we spam?

    Dan – The great thing about it was that my local community joined in and supported me. I met quite a few new people too (both local and real estate-based), who are no following me and talking to me – all thanks to the contest. I was really pleased with the local response.

    Ken – I think the key to whether or not it was viewed as spamming had a lot to do with relationships. People who knew me were accepting of the non-stop nature of my attempt, because they wanted to see me win. If there’s one thing I can say I have acquired since arriving on “the scene,” it is a lot of support from agents who want to see me succeed.

    Paula – Yes, we do need to meet! As someone who gave me a spark not too long ago, I can’t wait to meet you for a little face time talking. Perhaps we can solve all the world’s problems in one go?

    Nick – I do think it became “social” which is why it worked. My social “sphere of influence” (to put it in old school terms) wanted me to win almost as much as I wanted to win. Everyone likes to be in on a winning game plan. Look forward to meeting you as well.

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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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