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Short sales: getting around frustrating gatekeepers

June 25, 2013
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stress anger frustration Short sales: getting around frustrating gatekeepers

Anger Never Helps in Short Sales

Do you ever lose it? I mean do you ever just start ranting at someone that you don’t even know… like an employee at a store or a customer service representative on the telephone? Sometimes it’s hard to keep cool. Just last week I was on the same call for nearly two hours and I’m sure that if there was a cartoon made of the call, the cartoonist would have drawn steam rising out of my head. However, despite my growing impatience, I was still respectful in dealing with the individuals who were trying to help me.

On the other had, I was also recently the victim of a bank employee that wanted to use me as his whipping boy. Here’s what happened:

Our office submitted a short sale package to one of the major servicing companies, and the offer was very low because of significant damage to the property. So, the bank employee assigned to the file calls the office and reads me the riot act because the offer is not anywhere near the property value on the bank’s computer screen. The employee continues to rant and rave about how he has all the power to close any file that does not align accordingly with the bank’s values. No time is given for us to have a conversation. He will not care a lick when I explain to him about the cracked slab, the fire damage, or anything else that might take the structure’s value down over $100k.



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It’s sad to say but there’s an employee like this working in just about every loss mitigation department. At one time or another in your short sale career, any short sale listing agent or negotiator worth his salt is going to have to deal with someone like employee I described above.

Three Ways to Pass Gatekeepers

Here are three ways to deal with the tough employee working your short sale file:

  1. Figure out a way to get beyond the gatekeeper. This ranting and raving employee is a gatekeeper. It is in the best interest of your client to get beyond him (or her). So, you’ve got to figure out how. You can call the bank’s toll-free number and ask for a supervisor; you can contact the bank’s media relations department; or you can take your concerns to social media (if you are brave enough to do so).
  2. Make sure to have your ammunition ready. When I talk about ammunition, I mean your argument with all of its supporting documents. For properties with value issues, this could include bids from contractors, photos, and even information from the seller’s insurance company. A comprehensive package in the right hands speaks louder than words.
  3. Listen, question, and be polite. In listening to a bank employee, you may be able to gain valuable information. If it’s possible, I ask questions. For example, “I agree with you that the value is low. Can you explain to me what I should do because they tell me that the property has fire damage?” Note that I am using a tone that would not intimidate the decision maker. (If that doesn’t work, return to step one.)

In addition to all of the things that short sale listing agents and negotiators already do for their clients, you can see that verbal abuse is sometimes included in the list. If anything like this happens to you, just shake it off and follow the three steps above and you will definitely achieve short sale success.

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.