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Genius Needed @ Countrywide

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genius.jpgI’m no genius, but am I crazy in my view that Countrywide needs an infusion of intelligence?

countrywide.jpgWe had a short sale fall through because the holder of the second, Countrywide, wouldn’t sign off on the deal. Why? Because their appraisal came back showing the property worth about $25K more than the sale price. With the rejection, the property will be auctioned off on the courthouse steps in about two weeks.

It is highly unlikely that a buyer will be found in two weeks for this property for $625K. Why? Because there is unfinished construction – two rooms with stud walls and rafters still showing, subflooring still needed in the new kitchen, no cabinets, no master bed or bath sheetrock or fixtures and the house is still open to the elements in a couple of places.

So, what is accomplished by rejecting this deal?

  • They are adding to the burden of a single woman homeowner with three children who lost her job as a result of the subprime meltdown. She is swimming as fast as she can and floundering trying to keep her life intact to some degree.
  • They are hurting the neighbors because property values will suffer as a result.
  • They are adding to the recovery time in the national housing mess because it appears that they are not responding in an appropriate manner to expedite these types of situations.

In our conversations with Countrywide, what we run into is unsympathetic, powerless representatives who cannot make decisions, who cannot take action. It seems that outdated policies implemented over ten years ago after the last mess and during good growth years are still in place.

I’ll admit to some personal bias toward Countrywide as they held the mortgage on the last house I owned and dealing with them as a result of a mail glitch and a late payment was met with no understanding and empathy (given our current experience – perhaps this is a condition for employment).

And while I focus on Countrywide because of this short sale situation, I think the problem encountered with them is representative of entire the lending industry at present. What’s needed is for these big institutions to form leaner, meaner crisis management teams to handle these situations where power and authority is given to their agents to expedite these deals and help get this short sale and foreclosure mess cleaned up as quickly as possible.

These institutions are going to lose big bucks. There is no way around that. Pinching pennies on individual deals – no matter how it adds up – is not going to improve their bottom lines enough to make up for the ill will they cause by trying to minimize the damage. They should be focusing on how to help people and maximize good will while building the foundation for future business that will then pay the freight on what’s lost during this cleanup.

This particular deal and the decision made gains this particular lender nothing but bad press and negative word of mouth advertising – not from me and this post, but from the single mom, her family and friends who have a very personal story of hurt and tragedy to tell others about the big indifferent company that couldn’t care.

As I said, I’m no genius but I know that when people extend themselves to help others through bad times it usually results in increased business because it is natural for people to turn to people and companies who have taken a personal interest in them.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jeff Brown

    December 2, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    John — Correct an error on my part here, but if at the auction it sells for far less than your short sale price, doesn’t Countrywide come out with either less than the short sale, or zip?

    Am I missing something here?

  2. john harper

    December 2, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Jeff – in this case the holder of the second has little chance of getting anything – short sale or foreclosure. This is why their decision seems not only illogical, but inhumane as well – no one, including them comes out better due to their decision.

    I failed to mention that the holder of the first would have been covered, but going to auction opens the holder of the first up to a loss making them another victim of this whole mess.

    I am sure that Countrywide is in many similar situations where the roles are reversed – them holding the first and someone else holding the second.

  3. Patrick Hake

    December 2, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Wiped out piggyback seconds are probably the largest reason most short sales don’t work.

    Most first lean holders are willing to work with borrowers. Some are even willing to give a small token amount to the 2nd.

    If most of the subprime loans were actually 100% firsts and not 85/15 or 90/10 loans, many of the current bank owned homes could have been sold as pre-foreclosure deals.

    I hope when this is all said and done home buyers learn the danger of financing with a piggy back second, just to avoid PMI.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?

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NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<

#CarsonHUD

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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.

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Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

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The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.

#JobOpenings

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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.

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Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.

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Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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