Social media blah blah blah.
“Hi, my name is Matt, and I’m a Social Media guru.” I’m going to start using that in conversation. Everyday. With strangers. I might as well, everyone else seems to be doing it these days. You’re sick of it, you say? Why would that be? Perhaps because the people peddling their wares are about as trustworthy as a used car salesman (or dare I say? – a Realtor® (please note, tongue is firmly planted in cheek)). I’m fed up. I hear all these people around me telling me how great they are, but no one seems to have any real knowledge or relationship with the social media world. Guru, ninja, expert…why are these words poison to our ears when we all know there are plenty of people out there in the Social Media “scene” we would gladly call these names. I can rattle off a list that contains half the readers and writers at AgentGenius (probably more than half, but I don’t want to be seen as kissing too much butt).
I started real estate with a Social Media schooling. Between AgentGenius (the site) and my personal talks with Lani and Benn, I was thrust into a world I understood, but didn’t know much about. I was learning how to network in the new world. I was learning the art of selling while keeping my mouth shut. I was becoming a source, not a salesman.
Where are the lessons?
I’ve learned a few valuable things and I wanted to share them with the new agents out there that feel frustrated by all the “new” stuff around them. They’re from my personal experiences and they have done some incredible things for me.
Knowledge – If anything, the various Social Media platforms work as a 24 hour call center. Need help? Ask away. I have received more tips and advice on Twitter than I did in any classroom. There is a wealth of encyclopedia-esque knowledge on the internet. Learn how to Google it. If you haven’t mastered the Google – learn how to really dig for what you’re looking for. It will pay off more than you can imagine. Not only do you learn how to research, but you learn how the consumer is researching – you can use this later to build SEO.
Friendship – Sure, it may not sell you a million houses by being on Twitter and Facebook (at first), but you will build friendships. Of different varieties. Right now, I find myself conversing with Realtors®, lenders, locals, companies, and the strange and odd. Any one of these groups can be useful to you, but it’s all about finding the conversation in there. You know the rules – don’t hard sell. Just “be.” Everything in due time.
Omnipresence – One of my recent listings was acquired because, according to the seller, everytime she googled anything about real estate, my name seemed to appear. By involving yourself in multiple Social Media activities, you may find yourself more searchable (and findable) than you think. The other day I realized I was the #2 ranking site for “San Antonio real estate agent” – that’s powerful stuff. Get out there and make your presence known. Try different things. Use different keywords. Teach, educate, inform, and have fun. No one likes a stuffed shirt.
Who knows where they really came from? – Everyone wants to measure their successes, I talked about this in “Re-defining ROI in the age of social media.” We all want to know where our leads are coming from, but Social Media makes those lines a little blurry. So you’ve never sold a thing for having a Facebook page? Maybe you have. Think of the way a typical end-user is flying through the internet. Click. Click. Click. They might have come through your company website, but that’s not to say that they didn’t read your tweets, look at your Flickr photosets, or check out your Facebook. Until someone implants a chip in all of us that will reverse-engineer our search patterns, I don’t think you can easily define where a lead came from. You can ask them, but if they say “I googled ‘real estate'” and you came up – who knows exactly how many times they clicked on something with your name in it.
Don’t give up. – Everyone here has been through it. The “what good is this doing me” thoughts. I can only say this: trust me, your time will come. I struggled through the first 50 blog posts. Wondering when I’d see results. Only now am I truly starting to see the returns. You’ve been told a thousand times, let’s make it a thousand and one. It takes time.
My office is a buzz with new thoughts and ways to make Social Media work for us. As a team effort we are building new tips and tricks and sharing them. Find a group and do the same. Start right here if you don’t know where to start. I have never been more excited in my real estate career than the last month – new office with like minded people looking for new ways to use technology to our advantage (and have fun doing it – imagine that!?!?!). I’m on a mission now. You can’t stop me.
The above logo (created by Lani) is all I have for a graphic today, thanks to Flickr’s utter failure.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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:
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.
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 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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