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I Flunked Facebook

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I flunked Facebook

It is hard for me to share this with the public but I flunked Facebook.  I have tried to get it but it just isn’t working for me. I had this epiphany when my son and my sister-in-law both found me on facebook and wanted to be my friend.

They found me two years after I opened my account and one week after I had accidentally announced a change in marital status. My husband found out about the marriage through another social network and it was news to him. I only know 25% of my Facebook friends and honestly have no idea who the rest or them are. I have 120 unanswered messages in Facebook too, which is an improvement over my personal worst of 189 messages.

Every agent should have a Facebook account

I believe that every agent should have a Facebook account so I am keeping mine. If it disappeared I wouldn’t be too concerned. I have had some interesting conversations with Brain Brady on this topic. Brian is what I would call a Facebook pro it is important to him for his business and personal life and even for having conversations at 4:00 a.m. about facebook with people like me.  He will be the first to tell everyone that facebook is the place to be.

I introduced Brian to flickr about a year ago and I see he still has not uploaded any photos. I keep telling him that if he wants an online presence he needs to go to flickr.  The advice I am giving him is bad and we both know it.  He does not excel at flickr in fact he flunked  just like I flunked Facebook.  If he really tried I know he could take great photos but that isn’t what he wants to do and he doesn’t need to.  If I tried harder I would get better results with Facebook but for me  it is like skiing uphill alone.  Flickr is more like riding the chair lift up with friends and laughing all the way.

Photos on Facebook

Brian suggested that I post my photos on Facebook. He thinks that people will enjoy them.  People do enjoy them but Facebook isn’t a good place to post urban landscapes pictures of historic buildings, or the river at night.  It is the best place to post pictures of people. Especially people who have Facebook accounts and are friends.  Those are the photos that people enjoy the most.

On flickr the photos of friends and family don’t seem to start conversations the way they do on facebook. They don’t get much traffic at all. My flickr buddies tolerate them and occasionally my closer friends will comment.

Which social network works the best for you?

Both social networks have a purpose and they have value.  For me flickr has more value than Facebook.  I love being on flickr.  I have met people through it, gone places, made friends and have even gotten some business because of it.  For Brian Facebook is the place to be and his flickr account is kind of pathetic looking (sorry Brian but it could go on the flickr wall of shame)

Even though I hang my head in shame over my messy often neglected Facebook account I have learned from it. What I have learned is to play to my strengths.

Before getting all excited about a social network and spending a ton of time on it lurk, kick the tires, and be prepared to move on.  Social networks are tools on the internet. It is the social nad the network part that are important, the ability to meet people and make meaningful connections.  What works for me might not work for you.

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Polly Briley

    January 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Teresa,

    I am glad to hear others are failing on some social media pages. I have had some modicum of success on Facebook, but honestly don’t know how to make it truly work. Flickr is pretty pathetic. I tell myself it is because it is too cold to take pictures right now and I will do better in the spring. LinkedIn is befuddling to me. I know it is important but am clueless how to use it more effectively.

    So, your article today just takes a little pressure off but reassuring me that it is okay to fail sometimes.

    Polly

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    January 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I think it was Jeff Turner who said at Inman Real Estate Connect last week that ‘the best online tools are the ones you will actually use?’

  3. Charleston real estate blog

    January 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Teresa, several people have told me that they are addicted to facebook but like you, I just don’t get it.

    But I’m going to a social networking seminar tomorrow so who knows … maybe I’ll get social 😉

  4. teresa boardman

    January 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Lisa – the same can be said for camera, mobile phone, computers, software and all of the systems and services we use to run our businesses.

    Yes I know many who are addicted.

    Polly – flunking is great it helps us go through a process of elimination and one day we figure out what works. I love Flickr and twitter.

  5. John C

    January 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Teresa- I like what you do with flickr, and am trying to do the same thing with Google’s Picasa. Do you see any big difference in the two services? Is one more searchable than the other? One more user friendly that the other? Thanks.

  6. Chuck G

    January 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Teresa,

    I’m having a similar soul searching moment with Facebook. While the informality and transparency is probably a good thing for Realtors, I think it can be a little TOO much of both sometimes. Some of the stuff that ended up on my wall (how, I don’t know) was certainly not something I’d want my kids to see (who are definitely Facebooker’s) let alone my clients.

    I’m a believer in social networking, but I’m a bigger believer in having control over what that network looks like.

    Maybe I’m just not using Facebook properly…perhaps I need my 12-year old to educate me on it???

  7. teresa boardman

    January 14, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    chuck – wow you have a twelve year old you are lucky to have someone in you life who is probably more qualified than any of us to deal with Facebook issues. At this point I may ask if I can hire the child as a consultant. 🙂

  8. Elaine Hanson

    January 14, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve just recently started participating in Facebook. I only had an account to check it out before I let my kids on it. I’m liking it a lot, but moving slowly with adding people until I get a better feel for what is going on. I think it could be great, but I am very conscious of keeping a line between what is transparent and what is too much. I’m still figuring out where that line needs to be and wondering how I keep control of the placement.

    I have, so far, flunked Flickr and any video app. Loving Twitter, perhaps a little too much 🙂

  9. Chuck G

    January 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Teresa,

    I beat you to it. My 14-year old daughter was able to put 18 listing photos to music and port it as a MPEG4 file with text and effects — all in about 10 minutes of work. My head is still spinning. I told her she could probably charge agents $25-50 per listing to do this, and they’d be lining up around the corner.

    Funny how things go full circle. I knew I’d be relying on my kids at some point in my life. I just didn’t know it would be this soon!

  10. teresa boardman

    January 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    John – I see a huge difference between flickr and picasa. They both store photos and I use them both but Flickr is far more social.

  11. Vicki Moore

    January 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I’m just glad they’re all connected. If I had to manage all those different sites I wouldn’t.

  12. Kellie

    January 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Teresa, I enjoyed your article and then realized, I have not even thought about looking into Flickr. I have recently become addicted to both Twitter & Facebook. I’m not sure if I’m using them both to their full potential but I am enjoying “kicking the tires”.

  13. Ken Brand

    January 14, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Fail = No.

    I’m with you, gotta have this and that and most importantly as you point out, you play to your strengths, your interests and what moves you. I imagine that Flickr rocks for you because you rock Flickr.

    Gotta be here and there, choose one or two and hit it hard.

    Amen.

  14. Brian Brady

    January 14, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    I flunked Flickr. I added no pics and I’m quite certain that nobody was interested in rate charts there.

    I was CONVINCED that Teresa’a urban landscape pics would catch fire on Facebook and bring thousands of friend requests, from St Paulians. Nope; I guess that’s why they call it “Face” book

    I think we both learned that one size does not fit all. We WILL be announcing soon that we’ve joint ventured to start our own platform; FlickBook

  15. teresa boardman

    January 15, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Brian – I thought we were going to do a joint announcement on FlickBook. Now I’ll have to cancel the press conference.

    You have helped me at least appreciate facebook and what it can do. I am not sure I can thank you for that . . . but I should.

  16. John C

    January 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Teresa- one thing I will say for Picasa is I have noticed that some of my pics (which I have tagged and input descriptions) perform very well on SEO. I wonder if Flickr does that for you? I can’t be a fair judge of Flickr because I don’t have many pics there and those that are there are not tagged, etc. What has been your experience? Thanks.

  17. teresa boardman

    January 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    John – flickr is great for seo. photos have to be tagged and labeled. I would say that Picasa is better for seo. I put some of my photos in it and on Google earth too. all good for seo but I still get more value from them and have more interaction over them through flickr and I get to meet some of the people who view the photos in person. I guess where I place a photo depends upon what I want out of it. 🙂

  18. Debra Sinick

    January 15, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Theresa,

    Must be something in the water about Facebook this week. I just joined last weekend. It took me about 1 1/2 weeks to actually join after I took Brian Brady and Jim Cronin’s webinar about social networking. Thanks Brian and Jim!

    It’s been fun so far. I’ve connected with past clients, other Realtors, friends from high school, college, family, etc, etc. It’s been a kick to connect with people from my past, but as far as real estate? We shall see. So far it’s been fun.

    Slate had a piece on Facebook, which was sent to me by James Lupori of http://www.kenmoreundressed.com. Here’s a link to the article on Slate:

    https://www.slate.com/id/2208678/

    There are now over 150 million members, I know since I joined after they reached the 150 million mark!

    It will be interesting to see if Facebook remains more of a truly social networking tool or a networking tool for real estate.

  19. Brad Coy

    January 16, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Teresa,

    Just last week had some challenges with FaceBook and photos myself. Duplicating upload from flickr to there is grueling and the myFlickr application is kind of mediocre, at best.

    Just as I was finding this frustrating. I found that a new version of myFlickr was released. This might not make you more of a fan of Facebook. But if you or anyone else reading this post are interested in sharing you flickr photos on FB this is a great way to do it.

    The new version allows for you to display a tab drop down with a lot of new options like commenting directly on to flickr in FB and linking to your flickr photos all over the place.

    https://blog.myflickrapp.com/post/69235265/myflickrv4

    Take a look at my profile if you’d like to see how I have it set up.
    https://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-Coy/659658244

  20. Dennis

    January 16, 2009 at 6:20 am

    I think it will be both social and networking. Just kinda like a newsletter, keeping you out in front of your friends.

  21. Joey Marino

    January 16, 2009 at 8:05 am

    I think the fact that you have 120 messages is a success! I have over 450 friends on my facebook (most people I know) and no one messages me, even about real estate. Just have facebook email you when you get a message and you’ll be set.

  22. teresa boardman

    January 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

    LOL they are sent to my email. I can’t keep up with my email either.

  23. Ines

    January 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    What’s funny about this is even though you think you failed at FB, you may find that in a few months it works for you – that’s the beauty of social media.
    I didn’t touch FB for quite a while and now getting some great results….and Flickr….you know I love that place 😉

  24. teresa boardman

    January 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    LOL but @ines you are way more social than I am. I have been on FB for more than 2 years, but like I said I will keep the account until I find that special network for people like me.

  25. Ines

    January 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    OK, so now you have a “social-meter”? I think you should create an unsocial group on FB – you will be surprised how many like minded people will join in (a bit ironic, no?)

  26. teresa boardman

    January 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Ines I thought you understood me. No I would not be the type to create a social group. I would be the type to delete one.

  27. Ines

    January 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    come on T, work with me here – creating an unsocial social group would be really, really cool 😀

  28. teresa boardman

    January 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Bite me

  29. Ines

    January 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    LMAO!! I can’t believe it took 3 back and forths to get to my goal! My work here is complete

  30. Karen Goodman

    January 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I keep hearing that you should be on every social network out there so that people can find you where they hang out, rather than expecting them to come find you.

    But, the idea of managing all of those accounts is daunting.

    So far, I’ve focused on setting up LinkedIn, Flickr (still working on adding community pics), Meetup and Twitter. I’m actually totally addicted to Twitter and it’s working for me though I just joined in Dec. I still haven’t joined FB but I’m thinking it is the big one that is missing. I’ll join is it is one that, like LinkedIn, I can set up and then forget with messages forwarded to my email.

    Are there any other big networks that you think are a must join for realtors?

  31. teresa boardman

    January 21, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Karen – I don’t agree that you should be on devery social network. I guess it is OK to set up a profile but I don’t see how any of us have the time for all of them. I think a Facebook profile is a basic. You said that twitter works for you I think that is where you should play.

  32. Brian Brady

    January 23, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Karen,

    I’ll agree with Teresa here; her article (and experiment) proves the point. I chose Facebook over Twitter ONLY because of the general acceptance of the masses.

    Rhonda Porter, another originator, found utility in Twitter by SETTING up her prospects to follow her mortgage rates reports. It’s that kind of proactive thinking that makes your medium effective for you.

    Teresa dominates Flickr because she actively participates in offline pursuits, made through her connections on Flickr, as well.

    I prefer Facebook because phone numbers are displayed some 40-50 of the time; I like to call people.

    Find something that works inasmuch as it gives you an opportunity to convert. Connections beget online conversations. Online conversations beget offline conversations and eventual meetings. Mettings beget friends and friends convert.

    Use what WORKS

  33. teresa boardman

    January 23, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Brian – that is my point. I could add that you will know when you are using the right tools because it comes naturally and is almost effortless and fun too.

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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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