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Lenders, Liars and Losers – Observations of a Humorist

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I don’t know about you, but I am on the verge of a breakdown. Why? Because I am so frustrated with the lending institutions that I have developed a drool, a twitch, and a wicked rash. I truly think the lending institutions are hindering our economic recovery. The bailout money is not translating into increased sales as far as I can see. What I do see is a lot of bank execs with spray on tans, new hair weaves, and fake-tooth smiles that gleam like tombstones in the California sun. Due to the drop in home values, refinancing odds are worse than the odds that Ms. Lohan will drop off the radar, keep her clothes on,  and join a nunnery. And modifications are as challenging as navigating the L.A. freeways on a skateboard while wearing a blindfold. 

I have observed that there is double speak in all bank dealings. Thus, I think it would be helpful to have a translation guide to understand the dubious promises being made daily by these Not-Lending institutions. Does anyone remember Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live (“I slept with Morgan Fairchild)?  Well, Jon, I’d believe your imaginative claim before I’d believe some of the following promises (all of which I have actually heard):

For Those Just Off the Turnip Truck 

  1. “Qualified buyers can still get a loan.” (Translation: “Don’t forget to rip out your kidney and staple it to your application.”)
  2. “After you submit your loan mod package, we will reply in 30 days.” (Translation: “We will mutter, ‘Hell, No, Dude’ to a donut somewhere on the opposite coast, and then we will use your file as a foot stool. You have about as much chance of hearing from us as from Amelia Earhart.”)
  3. “We have your client’s application in our files.” (Translation: “We threw your paperwork into Modification Missy’s trunk. She’s on her way to Vegas, but she’ll get to it soon. Oh wait, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’…and so will Missy. She’s not coming back…and neither is your file. Next!”)
  4. “We require a complete modification or short sale package.” (Translation: “We require three packages –  one for the shredder, another one to be left on a desk so someone can steal your pathetic identity, and one to be erroneously sent to the Foreclosure Department.”)
  5. “We are the fastest in turnaround when your buyers need a loan.” (Translation:  “Underwriter Earl (Missy’s cubicle mate) will slip into his sparkling red pumps, click them together, turn around three times, and squeal, ‘There’s no place like home…and your client sure as hell ain’t gettin’ one, honey!”)
  6. “We sympathize with your client’s situation.” (Translation: “HaHaHaHaHa. Tell him to grow a set.”)
  7. “Your client’s file is in the hands of experts who have experience in navigating rough waters.” (Translation: “Our trained negotiators were formally pirates in the Carribbean, and your client’s ship is about to be seized.”)
  8. “This short sale will close about thirty days after approval.” (Translation: “This short sale will close about thirty days after Peter Minuit returns Manhattan Island to the Indians.”)

What Happens in Banking Stays in Banking

  1. “All we need is one more document to complete the file.” (Translation:  “All we need is your remaining kidney. We lost the first one. It was last seen in Missy’s trunk.”)
  2. “We are here to help those who are struggling to pay their mortgages.” (Translation: “Files of those who have stopped paying will be expedited because our values are backasswards. Thus, we encourage all applicants to blow their credit ratings. It’s trendy! By the way, didya notice my sparkling new chompers?”)
  3. “Your client has a chance to get his loan modified, but he cannot miss one trial payment.” (Translation: “Although he cannot pay, we will string him along for as much time as we can in order to get his savings and retirement money before seizing his home and kicking grandma to the curb. Incidentally, does Granny still have her kidneys?”)
  4. “Trial Payments are for a maximum of three months.” (Translation: “Then we call them “String” payments, because we string you along until you are ready to string yourself from a tree limb. In the meantime, we will be doing the limbo to see how low we can go.”)
  5. “The computer has given us a loan approval based on the appraisal.” (Translation: “Of course, Appraisal Reviewer Rita may lower the value of the appraisal even if it comes it at value, because she must account for dismal market conditions – for which we were largely responsible and continue to be largely responsible – and because Rita must cover her arse to keep her job because she just purchased your unemployed, disabled neighbor’s foreclosed home while the neighbor’s sobbing children clung to her fat ankles.”)
  6.  “In order to complete this short sale, your client needs to contribute cash.” (Translation: “Although the guy is losing his 20% down payment, has lost his job and has no money at all, why can’t he rip the braces off his kids’ teeth and sell them for scrap metal? C’mon – work with us here!”)
  7. “I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” (Translation: “You’ll never find me again. If you call back, you’ll just get someone else who has been working here for five minutes. You will have to start all over again. You will have to tell your story to fifty more screeners and submit three more short sale packages. You will develop another tick before this is all over…and maybe even Tourette syndrome. Now excuse me, I’m on my way to Vegas with Missy, Earl and Rita…and one of your kidneys.”)

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Agent for Movoto

    January 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve got to hand it to you, Gwen. this is about the funniest thing i’ve ever read about one of the least funniest things happening right now. well done.

  2. BawldGuy

    January 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    You’re far too polite, Gwen.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    January 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Wow Gwen… Bank of America is gonna be pissed that your posted their internal memos’ on Agent Genius!

  4. Gwen Banta

    January 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, y’all. And Matthew, B of A is going to be even more pissed when they see me pull up out front driving a flatbed loaded with cartons of rotten eggs. Is anybody with me here???

  5. Joe Loomer

    January 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

    What Mathew said 😉

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Katie Ruffino

    February 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I am reading this in our sales meeting in the morning….. Great stuff, thank u

  7. Gwen Banta

    February 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    This great comment from Paul Donoghue was sent to my personal email, and I thought it was well worth posting:

    “Gwen, loved your post and your sense of humor. As a banker with 30+ years in the business, I’m embarrassed at the state of our residential lending industry.

    Speaking from the perspective of new originations, the regulations put forth from Washington are insane, and too few lenders are capable of providing applicants a complete list of needed documentation at the time of application … Most applicants will reluctantly give you their left kidney, but hate being asked for a lung, bladder, and liver three days before closing! ;D

    My recommendation is find an experienced lender, who knows the importance of VOC (Voice of the Customer) with a back office that is the antithesis of bureaucracy, likely a community banker or seasoned boutique mortgage banker/broker.

    As for short sales and modifications … what a mess. Small banks work, but the large banks and servicers are nothing but factories, and often without the financial incentive (they usually do not own the underlying loan). My recommendation would be to get to the executives that run these divisions and build a relationship … and you seem like the kind of person that’s capable of doing so. For those institutions that prove to be stubborn, I’d connect with a litigious advocate, who has the expertise and cares about his/her clients.

    I’d enjoy hearing what, if anything, you’ve found that works.”

    Paul lives in Cape Cod where he is in charge of business development, and is a mortgage specialist for North Easton Savings Bank.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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