An open RANT to short sale listing agents in South Florida (a select few, you may recognize yourself here)

Real Estate Agent with First Coast Sotheby’s International Realty
Dear Short Sale Listing Agent,

I've been showing, or trying to show a lot of your listings recently and have a few suggestions that might improve your business, your reputation and your actual ability to SELL and CLOSE your listings. I'm sure you "just weren't thinking", or "just too busy", or just didn't know", but here are some things you shouldnt' do if you want to actually preserve any of the above (business, reputation and closed sales):

1) Don't use your comment section intended to highlight the property features to potential buyers with a load of legal B.S. and disclaimers about the short sale. The comments (or remarks) section is to SELL your listings to buyers, you know, tell them about how great the property is?! Entice them to see it! We know you have certain things you need to tell us about the short sale, that is what BROKER remarks are for. 9 out of 10 of you have decided that marketing and selling your listings isn't really important at all, just covering your big butt!

2) Don't forget to actually take a picture of the PROPERTY! Hmm, with nearly 30,000 single family listings in South Florida, many at very competitive prices, which do you think buyers are going to select to go see? Yes! The ones that give them an idea of what the property actually looks like! Most buyers will never even look at a listing with no pictures. Did you ever consider that it is your JOB to sell the home? To SAVE your CLIENT from foreclosure? Or did you just list 100 short sales, throw them on the wall and hope a few might stick and disregard all the others (as they slip into foreclosure with no idea why - maybe you just told them"it's a tough market out there" to cover your professional negligence)?

3) Don't hire a 3rd party negotiator who doesn't know what they are doing. If you don't feel comfortable negotiating short sales yourself (or feel that you "need to be out there doing what I do best, selling homes" - and you clearly are not in the category with #1 and #2 above) make sure who ever you hire KNOWS what they are doing and is not so overwhelmed with files that they can't handle the processing in a timely manner. Oh, and don't expect MY buyer to PAY for YOUR negotiator. If you don't want to do it, you pay for it, get the seller or the bank to pay for it, but not MY Buyer!

4) Don't neglect your 3rd party processor, the seller or the selling agent. Just because there is a contract being negotiated does NOT mean you can dump YOUR job on your negotiator, the selling agent or anyone else. You still need to be involved and informed of the deal from start to finish. Don't push off duties to others. If your only job were to get listings, then you'd be a business development agent, but you are a real estate agent (or BROKER) and you are to be actively involved and informed the whole time, you are getting paid to be so!

5) Don't be so far removed from your seller that they rent the house out and never bother to tell you. It isn't pretty for selling agents with buying clients to walk into an occupied home using a lock-box combo that YOU put on the MLS only to find the home FULL of people and you sound surprised when notified of this as the selling agent stands in front of the home with shocked buyers. How often do you even speak with your sellers? ohhh I know, you "just didn't know".....

6) Don't list the home at 25% (or plug in a number) below what you know to be an APPROVED sale price. Has this ever worked for you? If the lender has agreed to take $X, maybe even several months ago, what ever makes you think that they are now going to take considerably LESS and how do you think a buyer is ever going to agree to go UP 25+% from list price?

7) Don't keep the property in ACTIVE status if you are no longer showing it. If you have an offer (or several) that you submitted to the lender(s) then put it in BACK-UP or CONTINGENT. Why are you wasting everyone's time?

8) Don't forget to keep the selling agent and the seller up to date. Yes.... we know this is a LONG process, and you are SOOO busy, but if you might actually keep us updated on a weekly, or even bi-weekly status, we'll all feel much calmer and are much more likely not to get a trigger finger and drop out of the deal. Buyers are especially nervous as time goes by and if we aren't keeping them up to date, who is to blame them when they are waiting in short sale purgatory, not knowing if they are going to go to heaven or hell for months on end?

9) Don't for goodness sake, advertise a commission that you KNOW is a LIE. I don't mean adverting a customary commission, we know that needs to be approved by the lender, but I mean a HIGHER than customary commission and then add the little disclaimer "commission must be approved by lender". Well, unless you are a miracle worker, I have rarely (actually never) seen a bank approved higher than customary percentages. If you can do that, great, then get that done up front and advertise that it is, but don't use the bait and switch game. If you are that devious from the get go, I'm basically not going to trust a word you say... ever.

10) Don't treat everyone like second class citizens. Just because this is a short sale, it does not mean that you can treat the seller, the buyer or the selling agent with any less respect, professionalism and attention than you would one of your "regular" sales.

If you don't like short sale listings, don't take them, if you don't have the patience for short sale deals, don't take them, if you don't have the patience with short sale sellers, don't take them. These deals often require more heart, more time, more attention and more business acumen than the regular sales your are out there listing and selling. If you don't like them, just don't take them. Refer them to someone who does and can!

I hope Mr. and Mrs. Short Sale Listing Agent that I haven't offended you too much. I hope that you might actually see a thing or two differently and change your errant ways. I really might WANT to help you sell YOUR Listing, and my BUYER might really WANT to buy your listing, but if you don't do your job, don't treat us with respect and professional courtesy we might just go to one of the other 30,000 listings in South Florida instead, you ain't the only game in town. I also feel so sorry, so very sorry for your poor seller who ends up foreclosed on because you "just didn't have time" or "just didn't know"!


Ms. Short Sale Selling Agent and friends

PS, if you were wondering if this letter is to YOU? If you have any question if it is, then YES it is!


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John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results

Not sure about your MLS in south Florida, but in the middle of the state the agents must specific wording apparent in both the public and the agent remark fields. And they are disclaimers. If they do not, they get turned in and likely fined. Personally, considering the patience it takes for agents and buyers to get through a short sale, it is only fair to disclose this. Also only fair to let the other agents know if the commission may not be as stated but be changed by the bank's whims.

As far as showing goes, if there is a contract it must be listed as Pending here and if it cannot be shown, it cannot be listed as Active.

Here you also cannot put a listing as Active if there is no picture. That is mandatory.

Perhaps your MLS rules are different, but ours are very clear and to the point. Are you sure that yours down there does not address any of these issues? If they do and the agents are not complying, turn them in. Hopefully your MLS has in place a way of forcing them to follow the rules so that all agents have accurate information.

Sep 21, 2009 01:42 PM #88
Carol Pease
JP & Associates Realtors - Bastrop, TX
CRS, Broker-Associate 512-721-6320


Way to go girl.  Your frustration is coming through loud and clear.   I love the one about the commission. 

How about this one:

Tell us whether you've submitted the short sale package and whether you even know what that is and what it includes. 




Sep 21, 2009 01:57 PM #89
David O'Doherty
Raleigh Realty Inc - Clayton, NC
Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC

Here is a post I did about #2

Sep 21, 2009 02:02 PM #90
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

Great post, Janie.  I think I will print it and carry it around.  But you just know that these agents handle all their listings like this.  Their personalities don't just change in a short sale or REO situation.  And they get business - amazing.

Sep 21, 2009 02:03 PM #91
Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239
Real Estate One - Commerce, MI
Michigan homes for sale ~

So many short sale agents don't know anything about getting the deal done.  Sad but true.

Sep 21, 2009 02:21 PM #92
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

11) Don't price it UNDER market value and try to create a bidding war.  You ARE a licensed agent, NAR member.  Fairness to ALL parties is a Code of Ethics mandate.  HOW IS STARTING A BIDDING WAR "fair" to BUYERS who are trying to purchase YOUR advertised listing -- in GOOD FAITH . . . and at FULL PRICE?!?  How is that FAIR??

Sep 21, 2009 02:44 PM #93
Susanne Novak, ABR, FIS, GRI
RE/MAX 24/7 - Columbus, OH

Amen. How about showing you care about your seller?

Sep 21, 2009 03:06 PM #94
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Realty, Inc - Whittier, CA
Listing Agent-Whittier & Surrounding ciities

Great Rant Janie. I could sign my name to this. You nailed most of our feelings right on the head. I hate the underpricing that gives Clients false hope of the deal of a lifetime.

Sep 21, 2009 05:36 PM #95
Rochelle Engelby

That was great--well said!! I can relateto the frustration you are feeling. I have an ALL CASH offer submitted on a short sale and can't get a call back on status right now. How poorly does this reflect on us when we have to tell our clients that you can't give them a status report because we can't get a hold of the other agent. I usually try to avoid the short sales and I won't show them to a buyer until I have explained how they work and how frustrating the process can be.

Sep 21, 2009 05:40 PM #96
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

It sounds like our markets have certain similarities.

There are so many short sales that they are inevitable and many who don't understand them.

Sep 21, 2009 08:41 PM #97
Patricia Aponte
The Mall House - Tampa, FL

Janie, You are so on target. I personally try to avoid short sale listings, but find it a necessity to offer them when a buyer has a limited price point. I agree with every point you made! The short sale process could be a lot more pleasant for all involved if the listings were more user friendly. The MFR/MLS that includes Tampa requires at least one picture per listing, but for short sales, the photos usually stop there. My buyers and I have had many wonderful surprises upon entering what looks like a well kept home. And, yes, the comment section is for the buyer and should be kept that way. Our listings now must disclose in a separate section whether they are Short Sale, REO, Foreclosure, or None of the Above. Prices should be set realistically as in a regular listing because the buyer feels it is his/her obligation to offer at least slightly lower and, another YES, the property listing needs to disclose that there is an offer or if multiple offers are being accepted. I think legally and ethically, the status needs to be changed to pending when an offer is received. If the list price is realistic and buyer's agents do their part, this would not delay sales and could possibly speed them up. I just had a short sale close in about 9 weeks from offer to closing and it was a beautiful home with an unhappy tenant, one listing photo, and an agent who had never seen the property. IT DOES TAKE PERSERVERENCE!

Sep 21, 2009 11:56 PM #98
Janie Coffey
First Coast Sotheby’s International Realty - Ponte Vedra, FL
Uniting Extraordinary Homes w/ Extraordinary Lives

Wow, I see I struck a cord here.  For those of you who were wondering, South Florida (South East Florida MLS) DOES require all of this:

1. Special Y or N for Short Sale entry

2. Special Y or N for Approved or Unapproved short sale

3. When you Click Y to short sale, you get a Pop-Up to make SURE that you disclose how commissions will be split

4. We have Comment Section for teh Buyers to read about the Paragraph

5. We have a Broker Remark section where you can share info with fellow agents

6. We are REQUIRED one picture and have room for 16

7. We have an attachments section where you can add anything you like, disclosures, addendum, etc.

8. Florida has a short sale addendum which spells out most of the open endedness of a short sale contract (I have issues with, but that is another blog post)

9. We have a pending and a backup status, if both the buyer and the seller have signed the contract and it is only pending bank approval, it should go to Pending, if you have multiple offers submitted to the bank (none signed by the seller and returned), it should go in Backup until it is resolved

- SOOOOO my beef is this.... There is AMPLE room to HIGHLIGHT the Property to SELL it and AMPLE and REQUIRED room to state exactly what the deal is to both agent and buyer without shorting the seller on your duty to them.

I know that other areas might not be as far along as we are with disclosure requirements so my rant might not make sense, but here it is, and they STILL don't do their job (ie MARKET TO SELL THE PROPERTY) and that is my #1 beef (that and not knowing what they are doing, like Carol Pease mentioned above)

Sep 22, 2009 12:38 AM #99
Tom Larkin - Lexington, KY

Standardization in Real Estate. If it where up to the Real Estate powers that be, you would be carrying around MLS books

Sep 22, 2009 01:31 AM #100
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

Thought I'd pop in here again(emailed you separately) to tell you that Google alerts picked up this post :)

Sep 22, 2009 03:29 AM #102
Scott Gephart
Rockwell Real Estate Group brokered by eXp Realty - Medford, OR
Rockwell Real Estate Group brokered by eXp Realty

A good REO of short sale agent must treat each transaction as if it were their own. They key is helping people, not being a predatory agent looking to make a buck on bad luck.

Sep 22, 2009 06:01 AM #103
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Janie nice job with your post. There are lots of agents in my area that take short sale listings and don't have a clue about what they are doing.

Sep 22, 2009 06:02 AM #104
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

These people kind of kill me.  I'm a new agent and I work mostly in short sales/reo properties.  I obviously don't list REO's, I believe you have to do some sort of ritual to be one of those people.  I am a mortgage broker so I understand that side better than most agents.  What is more important though is the training and education.  It is a unique and specialized field.  It actually adds a lot of value be becoming experts in the field.  Two other tips; even with all my confidence, reading, and training.  I still took on a co-lister who is an expert and has closed over 50 this year.

Don't be shy, this is one area where it might be worth it to get a mentor.

Sep 22, 2009 06:31 PM #105
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Who said short sales were the wave of the future? I'm glad I've got my problems in IL compared to those.

Sep 24, 2009 11:26 AM #106
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Great rant, er post, Janie! I enjoyed it and hope some of those agents you target will read it and mend their ways.



Sep 30, 2009 05:27 AM #107
Rose Clime
Star Real Estate South County - Laguna Niguel, CA
South Orange County CA Real Estate

Janie, great post, I'd like to add:

How about returning phone calls, emails or text messages to confirm they've received my buyer's offer.

And as for photos, my personal favorite is the SS listing of a relative's home with no photos, inside or out.  Gee, is it too much to ask that you drive to your relative's house and snap a few pics with your cell phone camera?

My 2nd favorite photo is the one of the development's monument sign.  Okay, okay, it's a photo, satisfys the MLS requirement, but did you really think my buyer will get a feel for the house by looking at a monument sign?

Oct 17, 2009 11:17 AM #108
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Uniting Extraordinary Homes w/ Extraordinary Lives
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