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Although we’ve been hearing over and over that distressed property sales are a huge part of today’s real estate market, pursuing short sales as a viable business option has been avoided by over 90% of real estate agents. Less than 2% of those who venture into the short sale arena are successful. Yet, over the next five years, it is predicted that 40-60% of all sales will be distressed, i.e., REO/short sales.

Short sales are too big a piece of the market to simply ignore. Getting involved in short sales can grow your business and give you a referral stream for life. So what’s causing the disconnect? Bad press.

Most negative information/misconceptions about short sales come from a lack of experience or knowledge. With proper education and training, however, you can successfully close short sales. It takes patience, organization and a serious amount of persistence. It also requires a dedication to the learning process and a constant honing of your skills. Trust me, I know this firsthand. I am a member of a team that has conducted over 300 successful short sale transactions.

I won’t try and tell you that short sales are easy, but I can vouch for the fact that they can be a very big part of your business now and for years to come. The catch? You must be willing to invest the time it takes to become proficient in this important real estate niche.

Here are a couple of things to think about:

• Sellers who are in a distressed situation are usually emotionally and economically distraught. By stepping in to help them, you are relieving a huge amount of pressure and giving them a solution for the issue they’ve been struggling with.
• By stopping someone’s home from going to foreclosure, you create a “raving fan” who will tell all his/her friends and family members what a great job you did. This will create an ongoing referral system for you.
• Word-of-mouth is the very best form of marketing. Successfully stopping someone’s house from going to foreclosure will create a very loyal and satisfied customer who will be happy to tell everyone in the community about your skills.
• Completion of just a couple short sales will create “buzz” about your skill, which, in turn, will create presence in the real estate community and the consumer community as well.
• By preventing homes from going to foreclosure, you will be performing a community service in your area. You will be actively stopping the foreclosure plague in your community. This may attract media attention and lead to public speaking events, etc.
• By participating in short sales, you will create a niche for yourself in the community, which will separate you from the competition.
• Short sales create banking connections that may allow you to get into the REO banking business as well.

Understand this: Most of the negativity you hear in reference to short sales, such as, “they take too long,” “the bank is not willing to accept the value,” or “the bank denies sellers into the program,” comes from uneducated and/or inexperienced parties handling these types of transactions.

Next month, we’ll talk about how to avoid some of these issues and we’ll provide you with a roadmap that will allow you to successfully navigate through the short sale process.

George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years. Dunsten has been a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialists for more than 20 years.