Thursday, January 26, 2012

consumers suffering in the wake of the crappy standards era

Roy, a truck driver, and Sheila, a former hotel housekeeping supervisor, knew their new loan from Wells Fargo would enable them to save $198.86 a month - a nice chunk to help with gas and groceries.

But what the Bowers never imagined was that their old loan, the one Wells Fargo told them was paid off, would resurrect itself, trashing their credit report, scotching their son's student loans and throwing the whole family into foreclosure. All, they say, even though they didn't miss a single mortgage payment.

As I read this article I was reminded of the Coalition Petition we mailed to the Federal Reserve back in 2007 in an effort to bring attention to the crappy standards and to stop TitleSmart, the final straw.
I did some digging and finally found the text of the petition.  I might write it differently today - especially in hindsight after everything collapsed - but I'll leave it to you to read how I felt back then.

“Lobbying organization agendas are driven by the interests of those who provide the funding. The more you give, the bigger your voice. Nothing wrong with it on its face, it’s only when they pretend to be something else that the public is mislead."

In the face of everything that's wrong in the real estate/mortgage/title industry today, people have been dancing around the issue of new representation. I don't really think it's a new trade association we need right now, though it's pretty clear ALTA is inadequate. No, we're facing a much broader menace and thus need to pull together those concerned from a broad spectrum.

Real estate drives our economy. The family home is its most precious investment and the perceived key to the American dream. We can't let greed filled folly, thievery, incompetence, and lack of foresight destroy the land record system or the integrity of the real estate transaction.

I believe the majority of real estate agents & brokers, mortgage lenders & brokers, title insurance agents & attorneys, consumers & their advocates, lawmakers & regulators are forthright, good doing, honest, hard working people who try to do the best for themselves and their customers. I believe that most people are afraid to speak their mind. I believe that most people trust that professionals and leaders will protect their interests.

We have crisis is the real estate industry. Our leaders have lost their way. NAR, MBA, ALTA, NAMB have forgotten the face of their fathers. Somewhere along the way integrity and concern for the common good got lost.

We need a coalition representing the full spectrum of industry participants and consumers with a mission, to protect the integrity of the real estate market for the greater, common good.

Technology is a powerful tool, for good or ill. Embrace it we must, but carefully and thoughtfully, and pursue a free competitive market where pricing and delivery of products and services are improved without sacrificing security, fidelity, and the underlying integrity of land records.

Fraud, lowering of standards in lending and title examination, conflicts of interest, the drive for volume, focus on referral networks, not caring who's handling all that money and people's lives, the desire for instant product - no matter what the consequences - revenue sharing - this seemingly uncontrollable greedy locomotive push push pushing without regard for the interests of the consumer, the "real" customer, without regard for the interests of the investors funding mortgage pools, without regard for anybody or anything except themselves.

NAR, MBA, ALTA, NAMB have become enablers and promoters of a new mob-like mode of controlling the real estate market. This has got to stop.

The TitleSmart product is it, the final straw. If title underwriters convince ignorant lenders and the buying public that the land record system is ready to move to automated title underwriting, a disaster will take place. I am not saying that someday, full automation might not be an option, just like surgery. Some day robots might be able to do it, but for now the technology is still in the hands of experienced human surgeons. We are not ready for full search and examination automation. Anybody who tells you we are is lying or ignorant. Automating title search and examination before the land records system has fully integrated technology and the system has matured to a point where reliability is tested and proven by outside experts over a period of time, is just plain foolhardy.

For the benefit of all, we need to get our arms around our industry and save it and the American public. I think it's time to organize and start lobbying our lawmakers and regulators ourselves.

Sign this petition as a start.  Let's send a message right to the top.  We're asking the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to consider the economic impact of the degradation of quality underwriting standards and controls in the title insurance industry and the impact automated search and examination products will have on the integrity of land records. 

No comments: