Since the free wheeling years in lending and real estate went bust, business is so much more systematic, down to scripts for agents who knock on doors of delinquent homeowners to list their houses.

A taste of his exact words was what Alan Hillsberg, a real estate investor turned short sales negotiator and buyer, gave about 200 real estate agents July 28 at an info session organized by Continental Home Loans in Melville.

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When he knocks on a homeowner's door, he said, he uses the same words, does not mention "foreclosure" and says county records show "you may be behind" on the mortgage.

"I give them no reason to fold their arms up," said Hillsberg, who two years ago started his Hewlett-based Creative Real Estate Network to negotiate short sales for homeowners, buy the homes on behalf of investors, then flip them. "Every time I do this, I would get at least two listings from every 10 people I see."

That was when someone in the audience shouted, "We want the script" and a Continental executive invited Hillsberg to do a webinar soon on his script and "options map" package to homeowners.

The two-hour session with six panelists was the first in the free "Continental University," a new initiative from the lender. Regular sessions for real estate agents and others in the industry are designed to help rev up their business, with the side effect, of course, of referrals and networking benefits for Continental, which is expanding to several other states.

Continental executives told the audience that it's easier to identify potential clients by using a certain online data firm, which has information on who's in the foreclosure process and how much value their properties have lost. They advised looking for borrowers who have at least a 115 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) -- their mortgages are 15 higher than their homes are worth; some statistics show homeowners really start giving up or think of selling when the LTV is 120 percent.

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As Dean Hartman, Continental's chief planning officer said, "If you look at it, there's been a systematic approach on how to fix this mess."