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Coming Up Short – How Realtors Can Make a Difference during Economic Turmoil

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By Julie Escobar

RISMEDIA, Sept. 25, 2008-These are challenging times, to be sure. Our economic conditions, market fluctuations and, of course, the extraordinary efforts our media puts forth to fuel the negative all play a part in what has become a “perfect storm” for consumer fear and information. Perhaps none as evident as the market in Detroit, Michigan.

It’s there that I caught up with national speaker and short sale specialist Will Weaver from the Floyd Wickman Team to discuss how that perfect storm affects our ability as a nation to realize the American Dream. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation:

Julie Escobar: Will, you have an interesting take on what you believe to be the American Dream. Can you share that with our readers?

Will Weaver: The American Dream means something different for everyone, really. Some would say it’s freedom or the pursuit of happiness, or the ability to work hard and get paid accordingly. Others believe homeownership defines the phrase. I believe it’s all of those things and more. In fact, historian and writer James Truslow Adams coined the phrase, “The American Dream” in his 1931 book, “The Epic of America” and shared that it is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

Unfortunately, today’s shifting economy has created shortcomings and loss for many consumers who are working hard to live richer, fuller lives yet find themselves losing jobs, family and homes. What’s more unfortunate is that so many feel like they are all alone, with nowhere and no one to turn to for help.

JE: It’s something that affects so many people these days, Will. I know that you and a team of Floyd Wickman trainers specialize in teaching real estate professionals how to really be there for their customers with the information and resources they need to keep their heads above water. What can you share with them here?

WW: First of all, get educated so you can educate. So many customers are in the dark as to their legal rights and the options that are available to them. They’re starving for information and an ally they can trust. I urge all real estate professionals to be both for them. A partner and I recently ran a full-page ad in four local papers inviting consumers to a free workshop called “What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Foreclosures and Short Sales.” The response was tremendous, and the opportunity to really help some folks in need was priceless.

JE: What should agents teach their customers about those two things?

WW: What worked for us was starting with a relatively simple format. Our goal was to give them the basics they needed to make the right decisions for their families. It’s always amazing to me to see the “light bulbs” go on for people who realize that there really is hope.

We covered a handful of important topics, including:

- Definition of a short sale
- The top 10 short sale situations
- Why a short sale is a win
- Short sales vs. foreclosure
- Steps to a short sale
- Three stages of a short sale

JE: Well, then, I guess that begs the next question: “What is the definition of a short sale?”

WW: Good question! The “short” in short sale actually refers to the fact that the payoff amount agreed to in the transaction is “shorter” than the mortgage balance on the property. Simply put, there is more owed on the home than it will sell for.

JE: And how about sharing the “Top 10″ list with us?

WW: I’m happy to! The Top 10 hardship situations are:

- health issues
- rate increase (3-5 year ARM expiration)
- predatory lending/borrowing
- divorce/separation
- overextension of credit/number of mortgages
- job loss or transfer
- two house payments
- distressed sellers
- declining market
- pre-foreclosures

JE: Short sale is a scary term for those who don’t understand what they are and how they work. Can you tell us why they can be considered a “win” for many of today’s distressed homeowners?

WW: Short sales can be a win because they can provide a way to avoid foreclosure and, in many cases, bankruptcy. It’s important to note the differences in terms of the long-term effects on consumer credit. Let’s take a look at short sales vs. foreclosures:

Short Sale
- negotiated settlement
- seller’s credit bruised
- no attorney fees
- peace of mind
- buy again in two years
- liens negotiated

Foreclosure
- court settlement
- seller’s credit ruined
- big attorney fees
- no peace of mind
- buy again in 10 years
- all liens exhausted

JE: That sure makes short sales look like a much better option for many. Do you have time to take us through the steps of a short sale?

WW: To start, it’s important for consumers to find an advocate-an agent they can really trust who will walk them through this often-emotional process. I would say that’s definitely the first step. Here they all are in a nutshell:

- Talk to a Realtor®
- List the property
- Gather the needed information
- Complete a hardship package
- Get an offer accepted

JE: You mentioned three stages earlier. What are you referring to there?

WW: There are three stages of foreclosure: pre-foreclosure, foreclosure and post-foreclosure. It is in this initial phase that we can help so many people lessen their credit damage, get out from under a tough situation and move on to the next stage of their lives. That offers great relief.

JE: There’s no doubt a lot of fine print that real estate professionals need to comprehend to be the best resource possible for their clients. Can we visit those in a future article, and can you tell agents how they can reach you to learn how to become the “short sale specialist” in their area?

WW: Absolutely. I’m happy to help. There is a lot of fine print. As the old saying goes, “The devil’s in the details!” In our next article, we’ll explore:

- The components of a hardship package
- The benefits to a lender
- Why lenders prefer to work with REALTORS®
- The truth about loss mitigation companies
- When a short sale isn’t a good idea
- How commissions are paid

I welcome agent questions and comments via e-mail at shortsales@floydwickman.com. I think it’s our job and our responsibility to help protect the American Dream whenever and however we can. I am reminded of a great quote by President Lincoln: “I am a firm believer in people. If given the truth, they can be depended on to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” That’s my passion: to bring people the facts.

Will Weaver has more than 12 years of real estate experience and is a three-time graduate of Floyd Wickman’s results-getting training systems. He also is a Floyd Wickman Certified Trainer and Speaker. Will brings an enormous amount of expertise to the field of short sales and truly teaches from experience rather than theory.

To reach Will, call 800.910.5351 or e-mail shortsales@floydwickman.com. You also can discover the step-by-step methods to your own short sale success by visiting www.floydwickmanshortsale.com, then clicking on Seminars and Coaching.

Julie Escobar is director of corporate and convention marketing for ProspectsPLUS! and has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the real estate industry. If you’d like to find new ways to grow your business, generate effective leads and create a long-term referral base, e-mail Julie at julie.escobar@prospectsplus.com. You’ll also find a library of her articles at www.prospectsplus.com. While you’re there, sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter by clicking on Master Marketing NewsletterTM.

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