Sunday, August 20, 2017

“Do No Harm Strategies” from Short Sale Experts Leonard Giarrano and Sandra Maslen

By Julie Escobar

It’s funny, when I started this series on short sales – the phrase Hippocratic Oath kept popping into my head – and then when I sat down to interview an old friend and extraordinary short sale expert Len Giarrano – it was one of the first things that he said.  Don’t you just love it when things come together?  For real estate professionals, especially those diving into the sometimes murky waters of short sales and foreclosures – taking the “first, do no harm” approach to business and clients is a top priority.

So when the topic came up, I took my questions to a man I’ve known and trusted in this business for more than 20 years.  When it comes to integrity and character – -this guy and his incredible partner, Sandra Maslen have it in spades.  So who better to ask?

Here’s an excerpt from our interview…

Q:  Hey Len!  Always happy to connect with you!  I’m excited to hear about your new partnership with Ms. Maslen here (Hi Sandra!) and what you two have been up to in terms of helping distressed homeowners once again find peace of mind.  First, why don’t you guys tell us a little about yourselves?

Len: Hi Julie, I’m always happy to connect with you as well and this topic really is something we’re passionate about.  For me, the American dream of home ownership sparked my real estate career 25 years ago!  I wanted to take some of the complexities that families were finding out of buying a home.  Then and now, I first seek to understand what each family needs and then find a way to create a solid course to help them reach that goal.  Helping households through the process of short sale is good business & makes customers for life.

Sandra: My background is actually in mortgage banking and real estate – and I think that’s really been wonderful experience to draw from when working with lenders on our client’s behalf.  Lenders and banks have a definite way of doing business – and while many agents get frustrated because banks want their deals done “in their way” – I can see the situation from the other side and do everything necessary to ensure that when our files hit the lender’s desk – they’re exactly what they’re looking for to expedite the process.

Q:  What’s important for distressed homeowners to know SOONER rather than later in today’s economy?

Len & Sandra: Well, one of the first things that people should know is that the banks don’t want your home back.  They want a vibrant economy and household like yours on your feet again – that’s profits everyone.  They would much rather work with you to resolve the situation.  They can recover assets – but it’s tough once it gets to the point of vacant, destroyed homes and neighborhoods.

So in terms of what they should do SOONER, first –don’t try to go it alone.  Find an agent or team with the CDPE designation and get a good, solid, accurate assessment of your situation so you know what your options are.  The CDPE training is so comprehensive and robust that it gives agents all the tools they need to first – as we said early – DO NO HARM – and secondly, provide the tools and the systems needed to help those homeowners once again find peace of mind.

Secondly, don’t wait until you’re down to your last dime and financially devastated to take action. For many of the homeowners we work with – there is such a sense of guilt and shame about their situation – so much so that people are too afraid or embarrassed to seek help.  They’re so overwhelmed and feel like they have to exhaust every penny they have to try to dig themselves out of a bad situation.  Our job is to make sure that each situation is diagnosed on its own merit for its own set of circumstances and to really advocate for those homeowners and provide them with choices that in most cases – they didn’t even know they had.

Q: How are you reaching out to distressed homeowners and letting them know that there are options available to them?

Talking Short Sales with and Industry Trend-Setter

By Julie Escobar

This month we’re going to be diving into the world of short sales and finding out for you what’s working, what’s not and what you can do to make this niche your own in today’s quacking trending market.  To help you do that – I sat down with one of the brightest stars I know in the short sales world, America’s Home Rescue’s Stacy Spickes.  She and her husband Michael have taken their “learned from being in the trenches” approach to short sale success to teach more than 43,000 agents across North America so far to adopt the best practices and policies in the country for developing a short sale business that can be a win-win-win for everyone.

Join me to learn some of the tremendous statistics and strategies she has to share…

Q:  Stacey – great to talk to you again!   You were heading into a Lifetime television series as we were wrapping our last interview…Can you tell us a little about that and what you guys have been up to since we last spoke?

A:  Goodness… this has been a wild and crazy year and so much has happened since we last spoke!

  • Lifetime… Lifetime Television has a viewership of 96 million households.  Over the last year we have worked with the production team of Lifetime Television to create a series of segments focused on educating homeowners about their options to avoiding foreclosure (Loan Modifications, Forbearance Agreements, Short Sales and Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure).  Our first segment aired in February 2010 and several additional segments ran throughout the last year.  In these segments, homeowners are not only educated on their options, they are encouraged to reach out to a qualified professional who can help evaluate their situation and help them determine the course of action that best fits their needs.  If it is determined that the homeowner is upside-down and needs to sell the home via a Short Sale, they are encourage to contact a properly trained professional (one of our CDRS Members via our online CDRS Network Directory at: to help facilitate the Short Sale process.  We are continuing to work with the production team of Lifetime Television to create additional segments to run throughout 2011 and beyond.
  • Launch of 2 New/Unique Short Sale Training Programs for Short Sale Settlement Officers (CDRCS) and Short Sale Buyers Agents (CSSBR)…

1)      CDRCS Escrow Certification Program (Certified Default Resolution Closing Specialist)… provides Escrow Officers and Closing Attorneys the training and resources unique to their specific role, responsibilities and concerns in a Short Sale.

2)      CSSBR (Certified Short Sale Buyer Representative)…provides Short Sale Buyer Representatives the training and resources unique to their specific role, responsibilities and concerns in a Short Sale.

Q:  How has the “Making Homes Affordable” program changed the way you do business and how short sale experts work with consumers?

A:  When the Making Home Affordable Program was initiated in March 2009, the focus was keeping homeowners in their home through loan modifications.  In November 2009, seeing that so many homeowners could not qualify for a loan modification,  the Treasury formulated the HAFA Program focused on foreclosure alternatives – specifically, Short Sales and Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure.  Treasury implemented HAFA in April 2010 and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed shortly thereafter with similar guidelines.  It is important to understand that the HAFA Short Sale guidelines only apply to Conventional Short Sales, on First mortgages only, where the homeowner meets the following HAFA criteria:

“You’re Running a Marathon…Not a Sprint”

By Julie Escobar

Finishing out our series on social media – I was honored to keep company with fast moving and far-reaching super star Michael McClure – aka @ProfessionalOne.  He was recently named one of Inman’s “50 Most Influential Online” and if you follow him for about five minutes even you’ll know why.

Forget baby steps — smart, funny, eager to share and wonderfully open – Michael is someone who took a GIANT leap into the social media not all that long ago.  In fact, he’s the same man who was quoted in 2009 as saying “I think Twitter is the stupidest, dumbest, most moronic idea in history.  I have no idea why anyone would waste their time on this narcissistic endeavor.”   I’ll admit to almost choking on my coffee when he sent me the link to an article written by another social media wonder Chris Smith (@TechSavvyAgent).  Clearly, he’s no longer of that impression – but it was a fun place to start – as we all know there are plenty of you out there who still believe social media in general and certainly certain platforms are just as “stupid” today as Michael once believed.

Now, as someone’s who’s business has jet propelled beyond even his expectations and is now joining panels of experts alongside industry powerhouses such as Stefan Swanepoel and Sherry Chris, he’s all about the tweet, the post and connecting with people far and wide.

A little background to start…Michael McClure is the President and CEO of Professional One Real Estate, which was named a “Beta Brokerage of the Future” in 2010. Named one of Inman’s “50 Most Influential Online” and one of’s “25 Most Connected,” he’s co-founded several blogs, including, and, and he contributes to several others, including Dale Carnegie. He co-founded and co-hosts, which focuses primarily on the issue of “raising the bar” in the real estate industry. McClure has spoken at many industry events, including Inman Connect San Francisco, Inman News’ Agent Reboot Tour and NARdiGras. He is a CPA, and worked at the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse for 10 years before entering real estate. He attended Michigan State University, where he received a degree in Accounting. He lives and works in Plymouth, MI, a suburb of Detroit.

Good grief – does he sleep? Let’s take a peek inside his world to find out some secrets he was gracious enough to share about how to succeed using social media as your springboard.

Q:  Michael – thank you so much for sharing your insights and inspired thought with our readers!  Let’s start out with the obvious – you’ve really managed to find a great way to not just embrace social media as a means of communication – but also truly make it a pivotal part of your business strategy and marketing plan.  Can you share with us some best practices you’ve come to trust?  Let’s start with Twitter…

A:  Absolutely!  I’d love to – let me start by saying the really short answer is this: Success in Twitter boils down to (1) mega-engagement, (2) providing content of value, (3) having an intentional strategy and (4) not “selling” anything.  In a piece I wrote not long ago, Think Before You Tweet and in terms of the “golden rules of Twitter” – here’s what I shared…

  • Engagement | Just as in real life, the BEST conversationalists are the ones who ask questions…listen to the responses…and then ask more questions. When Tweeting, engagement is EVERYTHING. Remember, “you” is every other person’s favorite word.
  • Be Intentional | Tweet with a vision and a purpose. Before every Tweet, I try to stop and think: “What is my ultimate purpose in Social Media, and how does THIS Tweet further that purpose?”
  • Digital is forever | Digital is FOREVER. When I’m about to hit “send” on every Tweet, I think, “How would this look on my resume?” If the answer is “not good,” I TRY not to send it. Or, as Twitter superstar Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) said it so perfectly:  “Don’t tweet anything you don’t want to see on a billboard, with our name/logo on it and your mom driving by.” 

Q:  Grin – great advice Michael – and nods to Scott (note to self – follow@ unmarketing!)  What about Facebook? What are your thoughts on making that work?

The same basic principles that apply to Twitter also apply to Facebook. It’s a different platform though – with different languages in some ways.  I was late to the Facebook game (I’ve only been using it for about six months), so I really don’t consider myself very knowledgeable. To really get up to speed, go to and learn from the guy that is REALLY crushing it on Facebook, Chris Smith.

Q:  From the looks of things – you’ve done more in six months than many there Michael!  But you’re right – Facebook too is really about engagement – just a little different feel to the communication.  And Chris is extraordinary – (grinning at the thought of the Twitter group hug this morning!) – you both are so willing to share, help others up and out in terms of learning and growing – from that perspective you’re both CRUSHING it!   Let’s talk about LinkedIn…

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of LinkedIn. I view it as the least valuable of “the big 4” (Twitter, Facebook, blogging and LinkedIn). I wrote about  my thoughts in a post called If You’re Only Going to Do One Thing in Social Media – it sort of sums up my thoughts….feel free to share!

Q:  My thoughts as well – now let’s move onto something you are CERTAINLY an expert in – BLOGGING!  I’ve lost count of how many you manage and contribute to – but it is a great means of communication and connecting – what are your top three suggestions for today’s bloggers?

A:  Blogging, and all social media really boils down to these three things:  Consistency, Quality Content and Authenticity.  In terms of consistency – you’ve got to be willing to show up over and over.  You’ve got to be willing to put the effort into making your messages count by providing quality content and you’ve got to be true to who you are.  I’ll share the take-aways from an interview we did with Jay Thompson who is tops in the field of blogging – I believe much of what he does on this topic and I think your readers can get a lot from him – find it at Top Ten Thompson Takeaways.

Q:  Goodness – another great one to follow!  Thanks Michael!  Let’s talk a little about those newbies to  being cyber social – your best advice for Beginners?

A:  Social Media truly IS the next (the now?) big thing. Get into it or be left behind. The “digital divide” is REAL, and you do not want to get caught on the wrong side of it. Beyond that, succeeding in Social Media takes real time and real effort. If you think you’re going to see results without putting in the time, forget about it. Just like anything else in life, the people that work the hardest at Social Media tend to do the best.  Remember – you’re running a marathon – not a sprint – so don’t make the mistake that some do and think of social media as a shortcut.  It’s simply not.  In fact – instead of working less – you can find yourself working harder – working more.  But the difference is that the results can be EXPONENTIALLY larger.  Your sphere is expanded in huge way – and the opportunities for success, if you’re open to them are limitless.

Tapping Top Tweeters & Facebook Friends for Expert Advice:  Part Two

By Julie Escobar

We’re having some fun this month getting to know some friends and followers who are at the top of their social media games!  In part one of this series we chatted with RE/MAX agent Shanna Lafontaine aka @slafontaine about her mad social skills.

Today, I’m excited to share the strategies and systems deployed by another smart social media cookie – Pat Williams (aka @cletch) – who I didn’t even realize at the time knows Shanna very well.  (That six degrees of separation thing is always popping up isn’t it?)

Pat’s as interesting and knowledgeable as they come and we actually spent well over our half hour interview time just getting to know each other better- what a tremendous spirit and great gal to get to know – if you’re not following her yet – hop on Twitter and befriend the woman – you’ll be glad you did.  I know I am!

Pat’s passion for social media really took root when she moved to a new state and knew all of two people – so connecting in a hurry became a necessity more than a luxury.  Her strengths lie not just in her knowledge of real estate but her savvy approach to building books of business that she’s fine-tuned working as a Virtual Assistant for top real estate professionals.

Genuinely curious by nature has its advantages – as she struck out to investigate all the subtleties and substance that surround social media.  By testing, re-tooling, and learning along the way – she’s devised not only strategies that work for her – but for the real estate brokers and agents whose businesses thrive under her watchful eye.  Here are some of my questions coupled with Pat’s thoughts, strategies and lessons she’s learned along the way:

1.    Do the numbers matter? The real value of social media comes when there is engagement and interaction between yourself and your followers.  If you’ve got 30,000 folllowers but only engage with three – the other 29.907 don’t really matter.

2.    What if your BRAND new? If you’re a new agent just getting started cold – you can expect the true turn-around time on your social media efforts to be about a year.  However, if you’ve been in a community for a while then you more than likely have a sphere of influence that you can use as a foundation to build on and that will certainly help speed up the process.  I built my entire business by continuously filling my funnel with leads from social media – it’s the jump start to building relationships.

3.    Do you have to “know it all” before you jump in? No – just START somewhere and begin building.  Most agents start with Facebook.   A good place to begin is to create fan pages on something that has to do with real estate and your market rather than just YOU as an agent.  For example if you like to sell lake homes in your area – create a fan page and blog about lake homes – fill it with great information that consumers who are looking to buy or sell lake homes in your area would find interesting and want to come back for over and over and reasons for them to keep you in mind – tie your fan page into your blog.

4.    Best advice?