LinkedIn – the often overlooked opportunity
Throughout my experience, I’ve heard many obsess over their Facebook page and Twitter accounts, but several forget LinkedIn. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s not really designed to connect with the consumer or if it’s because there isn’t as much hype surrounding it, but for some reason this site tends to get overlooked by many when they’re setting up their social media presence.
Just to clarify, it is true that connecting with the consumer isn’t the primary focus of LinkedIn. It’s a social networking site for professionals, and you may find that many people use it to connect with others in their industry. With that being said, it’s still important to have your profile looking as professional and polished as possible. Think of it as your online resume. There’s a strong chance that a potential client COULD look you up on LinkedIn and request to connect with you.
While you might not be able to engage in a full-blown conversation with them on the website, you have to remember that once you connect, they’ll be able to see your profile and your qualifications. Do you really want your page to look unprofessional and lack polish? I can answer that for you: of course not.
With that in mind, here are some “do’s and don’ts” of the LinkedIn sphere. If you keep these quick tips in mind when setting up your professional profile, you’ll be well on the road to having this social network be successful for your business.
Let’s take a look at what you SHOULD do:
- Upload a professional photo. This isn’t Facebook. Having a picture of a flower or your dog isn’t going to cut it. Your front photo should be a professional-looking photo of yourself. This is a more formal site, and your picture should be chosen accordingly.
- Only connect with people you actually know. Connecting with strangers can result in tons of spam messages being sent to your LinkedIn inbox. You could wind up missing a message of actual importance from someone you want to hear from. Focus on connecting with your immediate business network.
- Keep your profile updated. If you get a new designation or certification, update your profile accordingly. If you switch offices or jobs, your LinkedIn profile should be one of the first sites your update. You want people to know what it is you’re currently doing professionally. Leaving your profile un-updated and neglected will not get your page any traffic, and you won’t be making the connections you want to have on this site.
- If someone starts spamming you, remove them. It’s a waste of your time and inbox space to remain connected to people who abuse LinkedIn with spam. It’s best to remove them.
- Spend time on your summary. Your LinkedIn summary is an introduction to who you are as a professional. If you have a paragraph with incomplete sentences and typos, what kind of message do you think that sends? Spend some time and draft something that is well-written and cohesive without being too long. It will give people a positive first impression of you when they look at your site.
What you SHOULD NOT do:
As with all social media sites, there are some tactics you should just avoid. Here is what you should NOT do.
- Don’t use LinkedIn like Facebook and Twitter. This is not a casual forum and you don’t want to post things that are irrelevant to your industry. Post items that people in your network will want to know about and focus on building your brand and professional presence. That’s what the site is used for.
- Use spelling and grammar check. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a slew of typos and grammatical errors. Before you post something, proofread it. You’d be surprised how many mistakes you catch when you take the time to look at it.
- Don’t ask everyone for a recommendation. When it comes to LinkedIn recommendations, quality is more important than quality. You want to focus on asking people you know to give you a testimonial, and even still only those who you had an exceedingly positive business interaction with. That way, you know that you’re getting the glowing recommendations you need to get someone’s attention on LinkedIn.
- Never decline an invitation. Simply archive them. You never know when you’ll have use for someone who sent you a request to connect, and declining burns a bridge. If you archive, you can always accept them later on and put your networking skills to good use.
Well, there you have it. Those are the basics. If you keep track of what you should do and avoid what you shouldn’t, you’ll find that you can really use LinkedIn as a forum to develop your brand and business.
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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