Commentary by Julie Escobar
RISMEDIA, Feb. 12, 2008-Short sales are certainly a timely topic in markets across the nation. As a follow up to our last Q&A article on the subject, I once again had an opportunity to touch base with Floyd Wickman (FW) and Will Weaver (WW) to find out just what they believe makes for a successful short sale appointment.
Q: Where does an agent begin when it comes to the 5 top ingredients for a Short Sale Appointment?
WW: I believe that the first ingredient would be to make them feel safe. When you consider that most homeowners who find themselves in this situation have been inundated by investors – many of which make it their business to ‘steal’ homes in this market as well as a few unscrupulous bill collectors, less than reputable loss mitigators and just a barrage of people at their door, feeling safe is definitely something they are longing for.
FW: We teach a version of one of my most timeless techniques that I refer to as POCA (or Previously Safe Island) which shows the seller in advance what you are going to accomplish with them:
– Let them know you understand their concerns.
– Explain to them the process you’d like to cover.
– Ask questions that are both personal and financial.
– Establish that you will work together to accomplish their goals.
Q: It sounds like people skills are very much a top priority when working with these distressed sellers. What comes after the ‘Safe Island?’
WW: You’re right; building trust is a critical part of the process. Knowing that you are there to help – not harm is vital. You’ll then need to analyze their situation thoroughly. Where are they in the process? How far behind are they if at all? Do they have the financial means to change their situation?
Q: You hear a lot of buzz about which is better for the consumer, the short sale or the foreclosure – so would I be right to assume that’s the next step in the appointment?
WW: Yes, and really this is the part of the appointment where you are really responsible for teaching the homeowner. Most don’t have any idea what their rights or even options are. They are looking to you to spell it all out, and again there is that trust that your intention is to help them make an educated decision regarding the benefits of a short sale vs. the drawbacks of a foreclosure.
Q: Being well organized and informed is key – especially in this situation. There is a lot to know. How do you tell agents to effectively cover everything a homeowner has to know to make sure their short sale is successful?
FW: We teach agents to put everything together in what we call a ‘Hardship Package’ which covers the most important components necessary for a smooth transaction. This helps the consumer, the agent and the lender ensure that all the bases are covered. Our Hardship Package includes:
– A signed authorization letter from the seller that gives the agent permission to speak to the lender on their behalf.
– A fully completed financial disclosure form.
– A one-page letter explaining how the seller got into their position. Keep it to one page and under no circumstance place blame on the lender!
– A copy of the last two months’ pay stubs. (Unemployment checks or self-employed tax records work as well.)
– A copy of the last two months’ personal checking and savings account statements. (The lender wants to make sure seller does not have a lot of assets.)
– Signed copies of the last two years’ tax returns.
Q: That sounds extensive, but also necessary. What is the final step?
WW: You’ll need to go over all the forms, details and of course, timing with the seller. Take your time and make sure you have covered all the bases and answered any questions they might have. If you have done your job correctly and with the right intent you will have effectively:
– Established trust.
– Helped them to feel confident that you are their ally and are there to solve their problem.
– Created an environment where they can open up and give you the information you need to help.
With all of these ingredients in place, both you and the consumer can determine together if you are in a position to help them. If the answer is to that is “yes” then sign the listing agreement. Be sure to put the property in the MLS with this disclaimer in the remarks section:
Short Sale Subject to Lender’s Approval.
In the agent remarks section include:
Short Sale and Commission Subject to Lender’s Approval.
Q: Great! Thank you, gentlemen. Is there anything else you would like to add?
FW: You know, I’ve talked in the past about forming a ‘Positive Club.’ In other words, helping people to see the opportunities in front of them and really find those positive ways they can make a difference in their lives, their offices and their communities. So, I believe whether you are a Short Sale Specialist, working with a buyer to find the right home, or assisting a seller in the listing and sale of their home, having the right intent, or willingness to really help consumers in a time and economy where they could truly use not just a resource but a real ally and even friend is a good step in the right direction.
Short sales are just one important segment of niche markets that can help agents who have a desire to not just succeed but really thrive in today’s industry. Savvy associates nationwide are taking a longer, smarter look at how they do business and who they do business with. Choosing to be laser-focused and extremely specific in their target market gives them an edge over those agents taking the shotgun approach to their marketing or attempting to be all things to all people.