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Is exposing your own weakness a good power play?

lessons learned from a difficult home buying experienceI’m am not entirely sure what made me think that this would be a good idea, but now that i’ve taken the leap I received exactly the response that I anticipated by telling this unflattering story to my database of over 9,000 consumers.

Let me back up for just a second here and shape the battlefield for you.

Business has been absolutely crazy this past month with a surge of files from buyers trying to get in under the wire for the $8,000 federal tax credit.

Our staff is pushing maximum capacity and to top it all off, the rates have significantly dipped in the past couple of weeks.

Now, let me set up this particular situation, share with you how I dealt with it (publicly), then I would like to get your feedback.

Close of escrow is scheduled for May 29th.  The borrower is using a CalSTR 80/17 purchase money loan which allows for a free float down if the rates drop during first 45 days of the lock.

Rates dropped and we combed through our pipeline looking for opportunities to “knock the socks off” buyers by making the “I know we’re closing next week and I can lower your rate today” phone call that everyone loves to make.

We had a mix-up, a miscommunication between the loan officer and the processor (processor processess float down) – the result was that we accidentally floated down the rate of a buyer before we called them to communicate the option and the opportunity.

As it turns out – that was a fatal error in the buyer’s mind.  The $27 a month savings paled to his concerns about closing his escrow early or on time.

This miscommunication compounded by a plethora of other miscommunications and mistakes by escrow quickly snow balled into a series of emails from the buyer, expressing exactly how he felt about the situation he was thrust into.

These emails were directed to me as the branch manager and “homeownership educator” of the office.  I thought long and hard about how to make this a positive experience because it got kind of ugly, which you will see for yourself.

I decided to launch an email to the buyer making a specific request allow me to use his experience as a learning tool for others.

I think that’s it for the set up.  Following is a reprint of the original post.

I want to share with you a very emotional and challenging home buying experience we were involved in this past week.

This story is being told through a series of emails sent to me from a home buyer that encountered various challenges throughout the 30 day escrow period while working with our company, Broadview Mortgage – Katella branch.

I think there is great value in telling you this story, even though at (most) times it puts our company in a very bad light, there are important lessons to be learned here.

To begin this story, I am going to start with the end.

Tuesday, June 2nd 2010:

Mr. Schang,

You have my full permission to reprint any of my e-mails.  I was so exhausted from my own job when I was writing and therefore my e-mails were full of mispellings and grammatical errors but hopefully you can still benefit from some of the comments I made.   I think it is quite refreshing that you are willing to take an objective, realistic, open-minded examination of some of the practices or difficulties that can occur in this process and try to have discussions that will make your company better.  I really appreciate your attitude and response.  I have worked for 40 years in education and I absolutely enjoy trying to make my business and practices better whenever I can and I am impressed that you feel the same way.  If I go two or 3 weeks without looking at trying to find a better way of doing something at my work I am not happy with myself.  Continuous improvement, feedback, brainstorming, and keeping an open mind about how we do business is a good way of living.

In response to my email:

Mr. xxxxxxxx,

I am very happy to hear that your journey has ended.  Ryan has been keeping me up to date for the past two weeks about all of the challenges you’ve encountered during the buying process.

With your permission, I would like to reprint your emails (removing your identity and the names of everyone except myself) as an example of lessons we have learned and managing the expectations of others buying homes.

Yes, there were many things that in retrospect could have or should have gone differently.  Delays, challenges and miscommunication are common occurrences for most home buyers – and it is never the same thing twice.

I think that by sharing this story, reflecting on the mistakes and miscommunication and ultimately the successful result of you being a homeowner, would be very valuable to others that are going through different, but similar challenges.

Every home purchase is unique.  Each buyer, each seller, each home has it’s own unique challenges.  As a lender, we are problem solvers.  There are ALWAYS problems.  The experience of our team (Ryan, loan officer, Processors, Underwriters) is what determines the final, end result when navigating these troubled waters.

We have learned and grown from this experience as we do with every single home buyer that counts on us to give a 100% effort to accomplish the singular goal of making you the proud owner of a new home.

Congratulations on your new home!

Please let me know if it’s ok to reprint portions of your emails and tell the story of these challenges so that others may benefit from the challenges you have overcome.  I think this would be very valuable for others to hear your story.

You may call me anytime on my cell phone if you would like to talk more:  714-336-8286

Scott Schang

Ok, let’s start closer to the beginning now so that you can put this into perspective.

Tuesday, May 25th 2010:

Dear (Real Estate Agent),

Its Tuesday May 25th at 2:25 and I still don’t have an appointment at Escrow.  According To Broadview Mortgage, The Escrow office charge two sets of equal fess for the first and second mortgage charging over $7000 of monies that they shouldn’t charge.  Now when the Operations Mangager of Broadview called the Escrow company to help them, they said they were too busy. This is the same Escrow company that sent papers too my house when they should not have according to Broadview.

I am just letting you know what is happening or not happening.  Last Tuesday, May 18 (Loan Officer) called me and told to bring all the documents I had from Ladera Ranch and everything that the Escrow company sent me because he said they sent me 4 documents that they should not have and did not copies.  On that Tuesday night at 7:00 I asked (Loan Officer) for the timeline leading up to the signing at escrow.  He assured me that Thursday May 19th or Friday May 20 I would be signing at Escrow.  Friday afternoon after clearing my work schedule and getting all excited and waiting for the call, it never came and so I called (Loan Officer).  (Loan Officer) tells me that the interest rate went down from 5.375 to 5.250 and this is a good thing ($27.00 a month) and when I asked him when I would sign he said Monday May 24th for sure.  So now I clear my work schedule, cancel my appointments. go AAA and get personal property insurance and wait for the call.  At 2:00pm I e-mailed (Loan Officer) and nothing.  AT 3:00 I call (Loan Officer) and he tells me that Corporate hasn’t sent the docs yet.  I then ask to speak to his boss, the operations mangager, Ryan Ellis and he listens and tells me that when (Loan Officer) accepted the lower interest rate, the process was definitely going to be delayed because it had to go thru several channels again.  I then said to Ryan,  (Loan Officer) new the urgency that I discussed with him on Tuesday night and my frustrations and lowered the interest rate knowing there would be delays without consulting me.  I said thats totally  unacceptable.  Ryan agreed and said he would talk to (Loan Officer) because he made a mistake and he himself would get behind this process.  Escrow closes at 5:30 and naturally I did not hear from them or the lender even though I spent the whole day at home expecting to sign the papers.

Today Tuesday at 10:00 I left a message for (Loan Officer) and Ryan to call me back.   (Loan Officer) called me back at 12:15 and said that Escrow double charged and now we have to wait for escrow to redo the numbers and send them to corporate and then corporate will send the papers back to escrow and then sometime they will call me.  I asked (Loan Officer) why he accepted the lowering of the interest rate last friday without consulting me and he now said that there was a communications processing problem.  I asked what that meant?  He said he was telling a woman about another account to let that interest rate float and the woman misunderstood and somehow let my account float.  He did not tell me this on Friday, He did not tell me that there would be extra delays because of the acceptance of this new interest rate, like his boss Ryan Ellis described.  He minimized the mistake and made it seem like it was a little bit his doing a lit bit the (Loan Processor) doing.  He asked me last Tuesday why don’t I have confidence in him and once again I told him why I have very little confidence in him.  He has made several mistakes and apparently escrow has made some mistakes and I hold them both accountable but my own lender should do better.

Now Ryan Ellis the operations manager says he is pushing his department to write up loan docs and he is sending them to Escrow and expects them to respond but I don’t trust Escrow either with all their mistakes.

When you told me to relax a couple of weeks ago and let you do all the work, this hasn’t been the case at all.  I am not saying you should have done anything differently but I don’t think you should ever tell a client to relax and that you will do your part.  I am glad I am being assertive and keeping full records of these proceedings as both the Broker and My Lender continue to disappoint me just about everyday!!

P.S.  If you can’t tell, I am furious and frustrated by this entire process and wonder who really regulates the Real Estate Industry.  No wonder
we got ourselves into a major problem a few years ago because of Greed, incompetence, and lack of oversight, but
problems continue in this industry at least if my case is any example of what is going “out there”.

Today, (Loan Officer) again promised me that I would be signing documents at Escrow even though escrow had “messed up”.
Ryan Ellis, Operations Manager called me at 1:15pm and also promised me that he would be very assertive and make this happen
today.  I do appreciate the urgency of Ryan Ellis and him hearing me out.  I have not appreciated the mistakes of (Loan Officer) and
there are several that I haven’t even enumerated here and he minimizes his mistakes and continues making them.

My next step is to contact the managers of the Katella office John Krochman and Scott Schang.  It is now 2:30pm and I fear the worst, more delays and more mistakes.  My lender Broadview Mortgage says the Escrow company is making mistakes and I know My loan officer is making mistakes.  This is a bad combination for me.  Now I am going to send this letter to Scott Schang. I saw him at lest 3 times presnt useful information about buying real estate and he talked about the competence and integrity of Broadview Mortgage Company and I am waiting to see evidence of this.

Tuesday, May 25th 2010:

(3:00pm)

Now (Loan Officer) called and said the loan documents are at Escrow!  I am actually “pleseantly surprised” almost in a state of shock as there have been so many low points.
Now I will try and get an appointment with the Escrow company and try first to find out the amount of the certified check that I need to bring to them.

Friday, May 28th 2010:

Dear Scott Schang:

From (Home Buyer)

( A client who got pre-approved from Broadview some time ago with (Loan Officer) and then re-pre-approved with loan officer (Loan Officer)).  I finally found a beautiful condo in Ladera Ranch and the offer of $440,000 was accepted along with my condition that I would get back up to $10,000 for closing costs.  Escrow opened on either April 29th or April 30 and I was told that there would be a 30 day escrow and everything had to be completed by Friday May 28, 2010.  Furthermore I was told that all contingies had to be removed in 17 days and that included many difference events and I was most concerned about the appraisal and having time to get an inspection and get everything done by Friday May 14th.  Scott, I saw 3 of your webinars and really appreciated your ideas and education on timely topics for myself and others.  I thought you were intelligent, responsible, concerned, and ethical.  Even with all my bad experiences with Broadview Mortgage during this 30 day escrow ordeal and my failed loan process I am not thinking any different about you personally but some of your employees do not seem to share your high ideals of ethics and competence and the work they did for me was inexcusable and sloppy and cost me completing my loan process in the timely manner of 30 days which they were aware during this entire time.  The amount of stress, mental anxiety, mental anguish I have felt during this process has been incalculable.  I will not bore you with all the details of lost sleep and having to leave work or miss work especially during the last 7 days of this process to bring documents to escrow and to clear my calendar so I could meet with escrow to sign the loan docs to be told over and over again that I could not meet with escrow because there was some problem.   Please read the next two paragraphs and then I will briefly outline some of the mistakes and screwups by employees of Broadview Mortgage that made life so miserable for me especially the last two weeks and led to an unsuccessful bid to close on time today May 28, 2010.

Today at around 1:30 Ryan Ellis gave me the very bad news that my loan could not be funded today the final expected day of closing on my 30 day escrow.  The final straw was that my insurance policy was set to become active on June 1, 2010 and it needed to be active as of today May 28, 2010.  No one ever told me to get insurance active on May 28, 2010 but this problem easily could have been remedied as everything could have easily been completed days before but their were a number of mistakes and I find the service that I received at Broadview Mortgage to be somewhere between a D- and an F.

Right at this moment I feel sick to my stomach, frustrated, and angry although I am so exhausted by the total experience of trying to buy this condo that I am more depressed than angry because there is nothing else I can do.  I can at least e-mail you this message and then contact various media and agencies that oversee your business to express my contempt and frustration with a process that did not work for me.  Many mistakes were made by my loan officer, (Loan Officer) and (Loan Processor) and I don’t even know her position.  More about her “fatal mistake” to my loan later in this report.

I am very tired right now but I will write this letter as accurately and as brief as possible.  I don’t have the actual documentation with me as I am at work but Escrow opened on either April 28th or April 29th and I was told I had till Friday May 15, 2010 to remove the continues and then my deposit money of $5000 would be at stake along with my appraisal fees, inspection fees, and of course the possibility of not getting the house.  My family, friends, and co-workers have been astonished when I tell them the stories and mistakes that have occurred.  Whether this is typical, usual, or unusual for how business is conducted by Broadview Mortgage Company my experience of Broadview from the buyers personal point of view is that something is terribly wrong with this office.

I believe around May 4th I received an e-mail from (Loan Officer) that I would be getting an e-mail and asked to use my credit card to pay for an appraisal and “shortly thereafter an appraisal appointment would be made.  I was worried that the appraisal price would not be at $440,000 and anxious to get the appraisal and then order the inspection if the appraisal was at least $440,000.  Days went by and I kept calling (Loan Officer) asking when they would do the appraisal and when would I get the results.  I was hoping that I could maybe get the appraisal by Friday May 7 and the I became anxious over the weekend and then I called or e-mailed (Loan Officer) Everyday and he kept saying it would be coming.  Finally on May 10th (Loan Officer) said I would definitely on May 11th.  Late Wednesday I finally got the news that the appraisal was at $445,000 and I was very happy.  The next day Thursday May 13th I called my inspector in Huntington Beach and asked if he could come out to the condo and he said he would be there Friday May 14th the last possible day before the contingies would be removed.  I was told it was critical that I have the appraisal and the inspection before the end of the 17th day and I asked (Loan Officer) if it was standard procedure to get the appraisal results on the 15th day.  What if the inspector had health issues in his family or car problems?  Would I already be in violation of the contract.  (Loan Officer) would give me an answer and said everything will be ok.  He mentioned that countless times during our e-mail and phone conversations and somehow I had less and less confidence in him as things went sour.

Anyway, I thought the appraisal results would have come sooner thatn May 14th wednesday giving me only two days to arrange and have an inspection.  (Loan Officer) told me about a 4 day period that slowed things up but he thought things were going fine.  The following Tuesday May 18 (Loan Officer) called me and said that Escrow screwed up and sent me documents without keeping a copy and I needed to give them to him.  I am at home after a long day of work and he tells me to meet him in La Habra at 7:00 and bring all the papers I have.  I am thinking something is really wrong here when a client has to leave his home at 7:00 pm in the evening and deliver papers to his loan officer but of course I do it.  I met (Loan Officer) in person and told him that I am losing confidence in him and I ask him for a timeline on the next events in this process.  (Loan Officer) absolutely assured me that either Thurday May 20th or Friday May 21st for sure I would sign the loan documents at Escrow.  I told him I am very concerned because I saw how late the appraisal came in and I did not want to have the signing of the loan documents get delayed because I was keeping an eye on May 28th the 30th day of escrow and everything had to be completed on that day.  When (Loan Officer) asked me for bank statements or payroll checks I always immediated sent the proper documents.  One time when the fax did not work I left work and rushed to the post office on a friday to make sure the certificate of educational training was sent to him

Now are you ready for a surprise.  Thursday came and went and Friday around 2:00 or 3:00 pm after I cancelled all my appointments so that I could rush to sign the loan documents I finally called (Loan Officer) and and old me that there had been am interest rate reduction from 5.3750 to 5.250 and he was somewhat proud that my payments would be lower.  He did not call me and discuss this rate change or ask my opinion, he just did it on his own and did not call me.  I called him and then he told me what he did.  All I could think was I told him that I wanted to sign the loan documents as soon as possible and did want any delays as I afraid of not closing on May 28th.

(Loan Officer) said everything would be OK and I would sign the documents on Monday May 24th.  I felt very frustrated and upset and felt crummy the whole weekend thinking that at best I would sign the documents on Monday May 24th and May 28th Friday was getting closer and closer.  I even quoted Scott Schang on “timing is everything” and you have the loan documents signed 5 to 7 days before closing.  I was anxious and (Loan Officer) was calm as usual and he again told me how everything is fine.  I was upset because he promised me that I would sign the loan documents on Thursday May 20th or Friday May 21.  I guess promises don’t mean anything.  Now, I was losing sleep and losing more confidence in (Loan Officer).  My family, friends, and co-workers asked me on Monday, If I had signed the papers on Friday May 21st.  No I will be signing them on Monday May 24th.  Monday comes and I go to AAA automobile club and take out a personal property insurance policy as my real estate agent advised me and I really did not know when to start the coverage because I really did not know what date to use nor did the insurance agent.  So I put down June 1, 2010.  I dedicated Monday May 24th to be the day I would finally sign the papers.

Later I call (Loan Officer) to find out when I would sign and he tells me there is problems.  On Tuesday night May 18th when he promised me that he would have me sign the loan documents Thursday or Friday he PROMISED me that Ryan Ellis his boss would call me so I could better about this process because I was already feeling time is slipping away.  On Monday May 24th when I called (Loan Officer) and he told me that corporate is “working on my loan” documents I was again got a bad feeling.  I said I really need to talk to your bossy Ryan Ellis.  I talked to Ryan and brought up my concerns detailed in the above paragraphs and Ryan agree that (Loan Officer) SHOULD HAVE CONSULTED WITH ME AS TO WHETHER I WANTED TO LOWER MY INTEREST RATE BUT DELAY THE LOAN SIGNING.  Ryan told me that when the interest rate was lowered and accept there were several steps that now had to take place before the loan docs could be signed.  I am thinking, (Loan Officer) knew how much I wanted to sign the loan documents on Thursday or Friday, why didn’t he consult with me.  Why would he dare accept a lower interest rate (which I believe amounts to $27.00 a month when I absolutely had made it clear to him that I wanted no more delays.    So around 3:00 I am talking to (Loan Officer) asking when I will be signing the loan documents because time is running out as escrow closes at 5:30PM and it is already 3:00 and he has not called me to let me know that corporate has issued loan docs and then escrow will make an appointment with me if there is time and availibility.  Ryan Ellis assures me he will work on my account and hopefully he will get them to escrow before 5:30pm or tomorrow Tuesday.  I wait for the phone to ring and of course I hear nothing at the day ends.

Tuesday May 25 I call at 12:15 and I talk to (Loan Officer).  (Loan Officer) says how are you doing Mr. (Home Buyer)? and without allowing even 1/10th of a second begins to start talking and I said wait,  If you really came about how I am doing let me answer the question.  I am doing lousy.  I feel crappy!  I was supposed to sign the documents last Thursday and Friday according to your promises and now it is Tuesday and I still haven’t signed them.  By the way (Loan Officer), why did agree to an interest rate change without consulting with me.  You knew I did not want any delays.  How dare you act without consulting me.  Now its Tuesday and I still have not signed.  (Loan Officer) said,  ”There was a communication processing problem.”  I asked what does that mean.  He told me on Friday he was talking to a woman at Broadview and discussing another man’s loan and told the woman to let it float and accidentally (Loan Processor) let (Home Buyer) account float also and that is how the interest rate changed.  (Loan Officer) minimized his role in this “Mistake.”  He did apologize and then it is like we were to just move on as if nothing serious had transpired.  A couple of weeks ago (Home Buyer) let me know that a page from my checking account did not come over the fax and neither did my eduational achievement certificate.  He told me time was important.  Now when something he is totally responsible occurs and it changes the loan signing from Friday May 21st to at best Tuesday May 25th he does not seem all that concerned.  A quick apology and lets just move on.  I was very angry and upset.
Then (Loan Officer) and later Ryan tell me that Escrow screwed up and double charged fees on the Hud 1 and 2 and Broadview is waiting for (Escrow Company)
company to change the fees and get it right.  Escrow is now the reason my account is being held up.  Ryan assures me he will try to get things in order and he will talk to (Loan Officer) about what is happening.   He asks me what I want him to do.  I don’t know what to say except I am frustrated by these delays.  What I think later is I want (Loan Officer) to stop making mistakes and excused and get things done or I need someone else to handle this account and how is it you have people employed by you making these false promises and mistakes.

Wednesday at 3:00 I call up Ryan and find out that the loan documents have now been sent to Escrow and they will be calling me.  I leave work once again and rush to my credit union and at 4:40pm Escrow says I need a cashiers check for $18,000.  I get it done and 10 minutes later I am rushing to the Escrow company in Fullerton near the airport.  I am on the far side of Whittier.  I call Ryan and tell him it is 4:50pm and I will be at Escrow around 5:20 or 5:15 but they close at 5:30 and it is already Wed May 26th and I have 2 days to close.  I sign lots of papers and the two women at escrow are working very hard.  Some of the pages do not print out completely.  They try to fix the problem.  They wonder why there were no e-mail instructions on how to print the papers correctly.  (Escrow Officer) in Escrow works that these papers will be not be legal or acceptable.  (Escrow Officer) calls (Loan Officer and he says, “it will be all right”.  I will pick them up tomorrow Thursday at 10:00am.  I am so lucky that (Escrow Officer) stays till 6:50PM to help me fill out all the papers even though her child calls and says, Mommy, when are you coming home.
The next day I get a call in the morning during work that I need to come in and sign the papers that were not printed fully.  I once again leave work, cancel appointments and drive to Escrow and sign the papers.  I ask (Escrow Officer), when did you send the Hud 1 and Hud 2 reports to Broadview and who did you send them to.  She gets an e-mail and shows me (Escrow Officer) sent the e-mail to (Loan Processor) on Wednesday May 18th and in the short e-mail (Escrow Officer) says that she is not sure how to prepare this report exactly and (Loan Processor) needs to look it over and feel free to get back to (Escrow Officer).  Now I am really mad.  (Loan Officer) and Ryan had told me on Tuesday that the latest delay is because Escrow had extra fees or the same fees twice on Hud 1 and 2.

I am thinking, (Escrow Officer) sends an e-mail to (Loan Processor) on Tuesday May 18th and (Loan Processor) apparently does not read the e-mail or she reads it and does nothing that I can see until Tuesday when she seems to be real alert and finds the mistake.  WHY DID NOT (Loan Processor) NOT LOOK AT THIS E-MAIL AND FIND THE MISTAKEN FEES ON WED MAY19TH OR THURSDAY MAY 20TH OR FRIDAY MAY 21ST OR EVEN MONDAY MAY 24TH.  Nope, the first time she apparently says something to someone is on Tuesday May May 25th 3 days before the end of the 30 day escrow.

NOW I REALLY THINK THAT SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT AT BROADVIEW MORTGAGE.  I HEAR LOTS OF BLAMING AND EXCUSES BUT MOST OF THE MISTAKES SEEM TO BE CREATED BY EMPLOYEES OF BROADVIEW.  WHERE IS THE ETHICS AND COMPETENCE THAT SCOTT SCHANG TALKED ABOUT.  I heard scott tell stories of other lenders who had ethical or competency issues but now getting hurt mistakes made by Broadview employees and I am really mad.  I call Ryan Ellis immediately and ask him to return my call.  He calls me while I am signing the escrow papers and I say I want to read you an e-mail from (Escrow Officer) to (Loan Processor) on May 18th and I can’t imagine why (Loan Processor) did not check out these documents and talk to people at Broadview like she did on Tuesday May 25th.  He says that he does not know what correspondence occurred and I tell him I am reading the e-mail word for word.  He then says that Maybe (Loan Processor) sent e-mails back to Escrow.  Yes this is possible but I am sitting right in front of (Escrow Officer) and I don’t think she would let an e-mail sit at her computer for days without reviewing it and responding.

I am going to send this part of the e-mail right now because I am exhausted and tired and don’t want to lose what I have written.  I hope to finish writing you the end of this account that ends with Ryan Ellis telling me, I am sorry Mr. (Home Buyer) we could not fund your account today.  I had been promised all along that everything would be ok but I got was alot of non-deliver promises. cover-ups, excuses and blaming of escrow or (Loan Officer) from the past.

Ok.  I went to the bathroom and my boss said I look like hell!  She knows from looking at my face that I have been trying to buy this house and thought everything was finally get close to the final resolution as I was to sign my loan documents last Thursday or Friday.  These events remind me of how some businesses get a very bad reputation.  They make phony promises, they are sloppy and make crucial mistakes, they blame everyone else, and then they tell you everything is going fine, and even ask you insincere questions like “How are you doing today” and really don’t care and don’t even wait to hear the answer.  This is not a good way or the right way to do business.  Maybe all of your employees should either have to watch your webinars or go to training.  Yes, I am sure they have been trained!  Maybe someone needs to monitor them or talk to them or something more severe until they start doing their jobs right.

Anyway, I am very tired but I am going to try to finish this report right now.  As it is I am going to be really upset for the next 3 days and I was already planning on trying to move some furniture and appliances into the condo but everything is on hold once again.  I was so upset at some point I sent an e-mail to you, Scott Schang
because I have to find someone who is going to monitor what is going on at Broadview.  I can’t wait for the employees themselves to give adequate service.  They just seem to continue making mistakes and then trying to cover-up and blame others.  Maybe my e-mail to you Mr. Schang pompted Ryan Ellis to give me a call as I was trying to get back to work.  He told me that you would be calling me and that he wanted Ryan Ellis to take over this account or make it work.  I felt very good that Ryan was going to help out and get this done.  I wondered if he could overcome all the delays and I wondered who else in Broadview was going to make a mistake or cause a delay or maybe Escrow would take their turn and make a mistake.  Time was running out fast.  Mistakes had already lead to many days of delay.  I was thinking Maybe Scott Called Ryan Ellis and asked, “what is going on there” and gave Ryan some directions.  Good for Scott! Someone has to be managing these employees and this business.  Ryan’s voice seemed calm and he was no longer upset and trying to tell me that Maybe (Loan Processor) send e-mails back to Escrow and they screwed up.  Ryan even said he could find no evidence of e-mails from (Loan Processor) to the Escrow Company.  He told me was going to take over this loan process and make it work by Friday.  I liked that he was taking it over and he had urgency in his voice and I once again had some confidence.  Ryan told me that everything should get funded on Thursday or Friday.  I waited all day Thursday and heard nothing.  Those were 9 or ten very long hours.  I was thinking I could do more.  I had communicated many, many times with my loan office to no avail.  I went to his boss and even e-mailed the manager of the Katella Office Scott Schang.

Friday morning, Escrow calls me at around 9:30 and says that I need to come over and sign about 5 pages that were sent over from my Lender Broadview Mortgage Company.  I immediately cancelled appointments once again and let work to rush to the Escrow company.  I had already complained to Ryan Ellis that I getting tired of leaving work, cancelling appointments, meeting my loan officer in La Habra on a weekday evening, rushing to the bank, rushing to escrow while mistakes are being made by the people I am paying to get me the condo.  When I get to Escrow and sign the papers they tell me that by 12:00 I need to call my insurance company, and tell them to fax over the insurance papers showing that I have coverage.  I leave several messages (Insurance Agent), the person I signed the property insurance with.  I even give him authorization to fax the information to (Escrow Officer).  I call back and leave a message for him to even call her directly before 12:00.  I then call back and get customer service and said to (Insurance Agent), can you please get someone to send my policy over to (Escrow Company) by 12:00 to help me buy this condo.  She took 10 minutes and did it herself and sent the faxes.  I asked for her bosses name and said I want to talk to your boss and commend your efforts on my behalf.  I felt good now.  Everything should be fine.

I left messages at the office and on Ryan Ellis’s cell phone saying that I wanted to hear the latest update of what is going. I thanked him in advance for the work he was doing as I was confident he would do everything he could.  I don’t doubt Ryan Ellis did try to do everything he could but he told me that because the effective date of the insurance policy on was June 1, 2010 Corporate would not lend the funds.  He even promised corporate that (Home Buyer) will call his insurance company and get the date changed.  I immediatedly called (Insurance Company) and told them I wanted to change the effective date to May 28th.  They told me I had to get the Lender Broadview to fax a form over to get the date changed.  When I called Ryan Ellis back, he said it is too late.  Corporate will not send the funds.

Anyway Ryan apologized and said Broadview would send the funds Tuesday June 1.  I asked him what if the seller says, the 30 days is up and the deal  is off.  He assured me that they wouldn’t. I was very calm with Scott as now there was nothing I could do.  I felt like crap on the inside.  I felt betrayed and cheated by Broadview.  A bunch of promises and mistakes.  Yes, there always is going to be some delays, some frustration, some difficulties but too many things did not seem right to me.  The escrow woman, may not know everything even though she has worked for almost 15 years there but she said that the property was covered by HOA and HO6 and any additional insurance that I bought is person and Broadview could have funded this loan and the insurance I bought was personal and extra and she has never experienced this in 15 years of business. Maybe she is wrong although this would just be one final straw among many.

I wonder why nobody, my lender or escrow ever questiong why this insurance policy was going to be effective June 1st and that could be a problem.  No one ever sent me an e-mail or literature and said if you buy property insurance date it when you think its going to close.  Anyway if you are still reading, I am going to sign off now as I am very tired.  I noticed I did not spell contingency correctly in the beginning of this paper and really can’t even re-read this.

I think I have made the point that I am a very unhappy client of Broadview.  You get to determine if mistakes were made by Broadview employees and if anything needs to be changed or addressed.  At this point I really don’t want any apologies or someone telling me they will talk to (Loan Processor & Loan Officer).  I wanted results and I did not get them!

And then, the email I received on Tuesday, June 2nd 2010 which led to the exchange that began this story:

Dear Scott,

A few minutes ago I just received word from Escrow that my loan was funded and I am very grateful and thankful.  I know that the loan process has its moments, delays, frustrations, changes, problems, obstacles etc but I still think my last 3 weeks including my last 3 long weekends were extra stressful because a couple of employees made some “blantant, unexcusable mistakes.”  Anyway, I am grateful that it all worked out in the end and the results are what truly count.  I was very worried when the escrow was not carried out in 30 days according to the contract last Friday May 28th and had to fear that I would lose the condo.  Even this weekend I could rest very easy or make the kind of plans I wanted to.

Thank you for reading my e-mails and taking whatever actions you decide to take to make Broadview the best possible company it can be.

Ok, if you’ve stuck with me this far, let me tell you what I have learned and what I ultimately wanted to share with you.

First Lesson: The emotional roller coaster that this home buyer experienced is not unlike the frustration, expectation, anticipation and elation (when finished) that all home buyers feel while walking the 30 day “green mile” from the the acceptance of your offer to the anticipated close of escrow, and ultimately – home ownership.

Second Lesson: It’s not how many times you fall down – it’s how many times you get back up.  There are ALWAYS challenges even when there are no communication challenges and everyone does their job.  I get nervous when things go too smoothly, seriously, it’s always something.

There are so many different parties involved (seller’s agent, buyer’s agent, escrow company, escrow officer, title company, lender, loan officer, loan processor, loan underwriter, home inspector, home appraiser, insurance company) in a home purchase that it is always a new adventure navigating the process and keeping track of all of the moving parts.

Encountering challenges and miscommunication among the many parties involved in the home buying process is not at all unusual.  Working to resolve these challenges as quickly as possible is always the goal of the teams.

Third Lesson: When I step back, and reflect on this once it’s over, here is my opinion of how we failed this home buyer:

There was a miscommunication between the Loan Officer and Processor and the buyer’s interest rate was reduced without having a prior conversation with the buyer.  This caused a delay of several days.

When the opportunity to float down (lower) the interest rate came up, there were many buyers that we were scrambling to help.  There was a mix up between this buyer’s loan and another buyer with whom we already had a conversation and an “ok” to reduce the rate.  This was an internal communication challenge which we have implemented steps to reduce or eliminate the opportunity for this to happen in the future.

The loan officer committed the cardinal sin of “promising” a time line to the home buyer.  It is probably the single most difficult discipline that loan officers have to learn and that’s having the strength to not tell the home buyer what they want to hear.

Ultimately, we get so much pleasure and reward from helping families become home owners, It is the hardest thing in the world to have to say “I can’t make that promise” when asked “When do you think we will be done?”.  This is not an excuse.  We screwed up.

Fourth Lesson: Even though there were multiple challenges by multiple parties throughout this transaction, which resulted in this escrow closing 4 days later than scheduled (because of the date on an insurance policy and a holiday), the buyer got the best deal available to them (lower interest rate), and all parties worked together as a team to overcome and resolve the all too common challenges that we encounter as lenders, real estate agents and escrow companies.

I want to thank you once again (home buyer) for allowing me to share this story with our readers.

This is a rare opportunity for prospective buyers to learn from this and realize that even though the specific challenges differ, encountering  various challenges throughout the process is not at all uncommon.  What is most common is that everything works out in the end and we get to congratulate another home buyer on your purchase!

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  • 4 comments

    WP Cache plugin creating firesavez7 Virus Zombie?!

    If you have no idea what i’m talking about, you’re one of the lucky few!

    This weekend my sites were attacked by a virus trying to install maleware and redirecting visitors to URL that started with firesavez7.com/ and then a long line of characters that led straight down a path to virus hell.

    I have enough computer prophylactic mechanisms in place that I did not download anything but the job of cleanup is just beginning.

    I was out of town at a conference this weekend and was unable to be in front of my computer, but while frequently checking my analytics with my iPhone app I noticed my daily traffic, bounce rate and time on site were WAY down.  Like almost non-existent!

    My sites are hosted at Bluehost, and with a little research discovered that they were indeed a victim of this attack along with many other providers.

    The Solution was not that bad

    To initially resolve the problem, I had to restore my entire public_html directory to a previously backed up version from about a week ago, this was Sunday night.  That seemed to solve the problem.

    I went the entire day yesterday with no occurrence of the dreaded redirect notice and anti-virus alarm.  Site traffic, time on site and bounce rate (vitals) were normal….whew, that was close.

    But the dead rose to feed again

    Tuesday is my marketing day.  The day that I send an update to my entire consumer and agent database (9,100 recipients of this email update) to notify them of the articles I wrote this week about claiming California’s tax credit.

    Initially, there were no issues….and then it started.  One, then two, then three emails came rolling in warning me that I was sending out a virus!  HOLY S%&T!  This isn’t happening.  I saw my reputation being flushed before my eyes.

    I screamed through my site with absolutely no challenges, no virus, no warnings, no redirects….what the hell was going on?!

    I jumped on the phone with the smartest and nerdiest guy I know, Ryan Hartman.  He mentions that it’s common for viruses to attack your .htmaccess file in WordPress – so we look at it.

    Ryan saw some stuff in there that didn’t look right so he removed it and it fixed the challenges he was having from his computer.  The code he removed was:

    # BEGIN W3 Total Cache
    <IfModule mod_setenvif.c>
    SetEnvIfNoCase Accept-Encoding (gzip) APPEND_EXT=.$1
    </IfModule>
    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} \/$
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !(\/wp-admin\/|\/xmlrpc.php|\/wp-(app|cron|login|register).php|wp-.*\.php|index\.php) [OR]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} (wp-comments-popup\.php|wp-links-opml\.php|wp-locations\.php) [NC]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} !=POST
    RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} =”"
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_COOKIE} !(comment_author|wp-postpass|wordpress_\[a-f0-9\]\+|wordpress_logged_in) [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !(bot|ia_archive|slurp|crawl|spider) [NC]
    RewriteCond /home1/califow1/public_html/wp-content/w3tc/pgcache/$1/_default_.html%{ENV:APPEND_EXT} -f
    RewriteRule (.*) wp-content/w3tc/pgcache/$1/_default_.html%{ENV:APPEND_EXT} [L]
    </IfModule>
    # END W3 Total Cache

    Relieved, I didn’t put 2 and 2 together at first.

    At the same time I was on the line with Ryan, one of the readers of the email that I just infected the world with was also emailing me with suggestions on how to fix the virus and recommend I pull my site offline until it’s fixed.

    I reported to him that we found code that didn’t look right in the .htmaccess file and it seems like a cure.  My helpful reader shot me back an email and said “Yup, looks like it’s all good”.

    Then I got to looking at that code again that Ryan pulled out….and there was something strangely familiar about it (even from a very NON-code savvy person like me).

    And it struck me….W3 Total Cache is a caching plugin for wordpress that loads cached pages to viewers for faster load times.  And then, the second blow.  I wonder if it was loading infected pages?  Was my site serving up virus zombies from the grave?  Looks like it might have been!

    Not everyone receiving the email was reporting the virus, as a matter of fact, replies and responses were fairly normal.  I can only assume now that those that were getting hit were viewing cached pages?

    I’m no genius when it comes to coding and viruses.  I belong to the “just do it and figure it out later” theory of blog development.  I deactivated the plugin for now, even after removing the code.  Reports coming from several reputable sources still say thumbs up, so it looks like that finally fixed it.

    In closing – here are a couple of things I discovered that may be of help to you.

    First:  My helpful reader, Evan, sent this to me in an email before I killed the Zombie (Thanks Evan!  You Rock!):

    I think there’s removal instructions here: http://www.ghacks.net/2010/05/09/mass-shared-host-website-hack/

    Second:  A restore of my public_html directory seemed to roll back my entire account (about 10 sites) to a non-infected backup from April 28th with little to no trouble.  It was actually too easy….

    Third: If you have a Cache plugin in your wordpress blog – it may save some of the infected files and serve up virus zombies at a later date.

    Hope this helps anyone else that ran into this crazy thing.  I’ve been hearing of attacks all over – this is a nasty one!

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    What if Twitter and Facebook go Away – Do you have an Exit Strategy?

    Chris Pearson is a pretty smart dood.  He’s the developer of the Thesis theme that I use on all of my blogs.  It’s a pretty cool premium theme…but I’m not here to pitch WordPress themes.

    Yesterday I received and email announcing some proposed changes in the next version of Thesis and in this email it included a link to a Video interview with Chris Pearson.

    For the first 3 minutes, most of the talk is about changes to the Thesis theme….and then it gets interesting.

    He starts to talk about the future of Twitter and Facebook and poses some very interesting hypotheses.

    Here’s the video (can’t embed the vid for some reason, so check it out and come back) – go ahead and jump to about 3:08 to get to the good stuff.  Then, let’s talk about it.

    Chris Pearson Interview - The future of Twitter and Facebook

    Ok, so Chris brings up some pretty interesting points right?  I mean, think about how massive of a push there is for the RE.net to jump into the almighty Facebook Fan Page and Twitter stream life rafts to float safely to the shores through turbulent real estate seas.

    Do you think that Facebook and Twitter care how or why you contribute content?  No, they could care less.  These are popularity contests to see who can get the most groupies.  Once these communities gain celebrity status, they are finally in a position to execute on their end game…..find an investor.

    What is an investor going to do?  Use the traffic to the community as leverage to sell advertising or sell subscriptions to generate revenue.  Do you think either of these sites will ask you first if it’s ok if they use their platform for this reason?

    Remember when Facebook tried to change their terms of service to say that all of the content on the site was 100% owned by them and could be used any way they see fit?  Do you really think that just by changing the verbiage in the terms of service that it changes the way they view your content?

    I know there are hundreds of Twitter and Facebook snake oil salesmen out there crafting the next great real estate survival tool to sell to the rest of us, and good luck to them – I support the right of anyone brave enough to enter the free market system to sell their goods and services.

    My personal belief is that most of these solutions are only shiny objects catching our eye, our attention, and providing a false sense of security that could be pulled out from under you without notice at the whim of a volatile young internet nerd that has absolutely no sense of how to build a business based on a viable revenue and profit producing model.

    What I ask you to consider is this….Who owns your content?  What’s your exit strategy if Facebook and Twitter are no longer “cool” or become a part of some other company’s business model?  Do you still have an internet presence?  Will your business model change?  Will you lose your “black book” of prospects?  Do you lose all of your content?

    I know it’s hard work to build a “community” online, but if you want to be where consumers are, you have to do it.  There are no short cuts or silver bullets.  Marketing is marketing and sales is sales – These fundamental facts will never change.  The only thing that changes is how you reach out to your prospects, how they find you, what they see when they find you.

    If you’re going to put this much work (aka – how much time a day do you spend on Facebook and Twitter) are you investing in your long term marketing, branding and sales strategy or are ya just having fun?

    If you’re not rubbin bellies or skinning cats….my guess is that the latter would probably best describe your social media strategy.

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    My “Jim Casey” take on the FHA’s Policy to Address Risk and Strengthen Finances

    “Before I knowed it, I was sayin’ out loud, ‘The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing.” – (Preacher) Jim Casey / Grapes of Wrath

    Here’s my take on the FHA 1/20/10 press release and the 1/21/10 Mortgagee letter as posted on my blog on January 21st, 2010:

    FHA ANNOUNCES POLICY CHANGES TO ADDRESS RISK AND STRENGTHEN FINANCES

    PRESS RELEASE: January 20th, 2010 – Deciphered into (highly biased and subjective) English by me on January 21st, 2010.

    I basically cut out a lot of the stuff that doesn’t matter and tried to just talk about what will affect you. If you really want to torture yourself, here’s the original release.

    The FHA statement in italics – My translation looks like this…easy to read. Ready? Cool, let’s get down to business then….

    New Measures Will Help FHA Better Manage Risk, While Maintaining Support for the Housing Market and Access for Underserved Communities

    FHA is hemorrhaging cash due to fraud, rapidly rising defaults and basically because the sleazy sub-prime guys ran around announcing that FHA was the “New Subprime” when everything collapsed in 2007 after Wall St. decided to take the stance that it wasn’t a good idea to allow brokers, lenders and loan officers to give away loans to people that couldn’t afford the payments (even though they started the whole damn thing in the first place).

    Who would have though that would come back to haunt them huh? (file this under “ya think?”)

    WASHINGTON – Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner David Stevens today announced a set of policy changes to strengthen the FHA’s capital reserves, while enabling the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to provide access to homeownership for underserved communities. The changes announced today are the latest in a series of changes Stevens has enacted in order to better position the FHA to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.

    Ok, blah, blah, blah…We’re making changes to FHA to make it more expensive to get an FHA loan so that less people will use FHA loans. IF you do still use an FHA loan (because we know it’s the only game in town with a low down payment) we get to collect more of your money so that we can pay for all of the fraud we’ve allowed in the past.

    The FHA will propose to take the following steps: increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP); update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers; reduce seller concessions to three percent, from six percent; and implement a series of significant measures aimed at increasing lender enforcement. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan previewed the changes in December of last year, noting that the FHA would announce additional details before the end of January.

    The credit score thing…no biggie. They basically said that if you have less than a 580 credit score, you must put down at least 10% down payment before FHA will insure the loan.

    Real quick though – FHA does NOT lend money. They only insure against the event of default. Lenders stopped allowing loans to borrowers under 620 like a year ago….Good one guys, couldn’t ya be a little more relevant maybe? Maybe even just pretend like you know what the rest of us are dealing with?

    The rest of this talks about very real changes that will affect your ability to use FHA financing in the future. I’m going to wait until they go into specific detail to give you my two cents though….let us continue, shall we?

    • Mortgage insurance premium (MIP) will be increased to build up capital reserves and bring back private lending
    • The first step will be to raise the up-front MIP by 50 bps to 2.25% and request legislative authority to increase the maximum annual MIP that the FHA can charge.
    • If this authority is granted, then the second step will be to shift some of the premium increase from the up-front MIP to the annual MIP.
    • This shift will allow for the capital reserves to increase with less impact to the consumer, because the annual MIP is paid over the life of the loan instead of at the time of closing
    • The initial up-front increase is included in a Mortgagee Letter to be released tomorrow, January 21st, and will go into effect in the spring.

    FHA will increase the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) by .50% of the loan amount. The current mortgage insurance requirements is 1.75% upfront – which can be financed into the loan, and .50% of the loan amount which is paid monthly.

    The rest of the bullet points basically say that they will petition congress to split up the mortgage insurance premium between the Upfront and the Monthly. If I had to choose a middle ground on this I’m thinking 2% upfront and .75% monthly, but the Mortgagee letter that they released today says otherwise – it will be an upfront cost.

    HUD Mortgagee Letter 2010-02

    I still wouldn’t rule out the FHA trying to split it up the .50% increase between the upfront MIP and the monthly MI….let’s see.

    • Reduce allowable seller concessions from 6% to 3%
    • The current level exposes the FHA to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate appraised value. This change will bring FHA into conformity with industry standards on seller concessions.
    • This change will be posted in the Federal Register in February, and after a notice and comment period, would go into effect in the early summer.

    Ok, so the long touted benefit of FHA loans has been that the Seller can contribute up to 6% of the sales price to the Buyer in the purchase transaction to be used toward the closing costs or interest rate buy down.

    Reducing this from 6% to 3% “to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate appraised value. This change will bring FHA into conformity with industry standards on seller concessions.” is an interesting statement since this “industry standard” is the standard set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when they were only Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) and not under a Federal Government Conservatorship.

    Now, there’s an interesting take on this part that may actually not be so bad for the consumer. There has been talk of adopting the Fannie Mae HVCC policy which prevents lenders from communicating with home appraisers. This has been a huge headache for home buyers for more reasons that what I can go into now.

    It’s possible that if FHA saves the world by reducing the incentive for evil real estate people to bloat the sales price to finance the closing costs by reducing the allowable seller concessions, that we may be able to avoid the move to adopt this failed conventional lending policy being adopted by HUD. Let’s hope.

    If you are really interested in how HVCC has affected Home Mortgage Lending – first, read the rest of this article, then come back and check out this Google search I did for “The problem with HVCC

    There’s more to this PRESS RELEASE, but it’s all sort of government jargon and hyperbole justifying the bold moves they’ve taken to insure that FHA financing is available as a source of affordable housing financing for families for years to come…eh, I have to resist the urge to be sarcastic here….so I’ll just say….Good job protecting us from ourselves. Couldn’t have done it without ya!

    There are also some VERY STRONG words about coming down hard on fraud and deceptive lending practices….I really don’t have the energy to launch into a rant about my opinion of this….maybe later…let’s see how I feel about it next week.

    Timelines You Need to Know

    Hey, let’s give a big ‘ole cheer for FHA committing to a time line we can actually plan around…here is the actual verbiage in the press release:

    • Mortgage Insurance Premium Increases – Will go into effect in the spring
    • Updated combination of FICO scores and Down Payment (which is totally irrelevant in this market) – Will go into effect in the early summer
    • Increase enforcement on FHA Lenders – (Protect consumers against fraud by lenders) would go into effect in early summer

    Seriously, way to nail down those time lines so that borrowers can effectively plan for what lies in store for them if FHA is looking like the most likely option.

    There’s no way I could make this stuff up….Stranger than fiction, I know – Go ahead and read the links to the actual Press Release and Mortgagee Letter is you like.

    Here’s the bottom line the way I see it (in my not-so-humble opinion):

    • Don’t buy a home unless you can afford to make the payments.
    • If you’re a lender that provides home loans for folks, don’t rip them off or commit fraud.

    Again, I find myself lacking the energy right now to eloquently embark on an intelligible rant that will only result in pointing out the obvious silliness of it all.

    So, what do you think – Am I off base? Did I read this wrong? Am I a flaming jerk for injecting my opinion into this fine effort to protect us from the evils of those that wish to harm us and protect us from ourselves? Let me know – drop me a comment and let’s talk about it more.

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    They are Smarter than you, Better than you and they Know More than you

    I’m a mortgage guy.  Mortgage guys (and gals) will often talk about how highly they regard and respect the professionalism and expertise of Real Estate Agents, and they paint thise adoration with a very broad brush.

    Real Estate Agents have a big ‘ole brush as well as they sing the praises and glory of how efficient, communicative and quickly Mortgage folks do their job to ensure a speedy and worry free transaction.

    (The sarcasm should be about waist deep by now)

    And you know what? (this applies to both groups)  They are Smarter than you – at marketing to their services to thier prospects, they are Better than you – at doing their job, and they Know More than you do – about their business (most of the time!).  Here’s the kicker….we have the exact same clientele.

    Here’s a question: What can you learn from someone that’s not in your line of work that will make you better, smarter and cause you to innovate?

    A couple of years ago I read a book called the Medici Effect that quite effectively makes the case that true innovation is realized at the intersection of different disciplines.  There are no new ideas, only new ways of looking at things that already exist…maybe just not in your world.

    If you think about it, mortgage types and agent types are different disciplines.  Some people can pull off both and make a good living at it, for the most part however, these are two different personality types.

    The very best in one field of the Real Estate profession is rarely the very best in the other field as well.  We’re not talking about having competence in either discipline.

    I’m talking about being cutting edge, innovative, kick-ass, gonzo marketing fools.  This isn’t vanilla agent or loan officer stuff we’re talking about.  I’m talking about raising the bar and being a thought leader in your market.

    For the past few years I have belonged to Vistage, an Executive Coaching and Business Leadership group that promotes “better leaders – decisions – results”.

    My group is made up of 12-15 CEOs  from different businesses and industries and we meet once a month for 8 hours to talk about issues and opportunities as well as other business building skill sets and ideas.

    Viewing the trials, tribulation and triumphs of the past two years from a non-industry perspective was an essential ingredient in my recipe for success through a challenging market and economy.

    One of my favorite events over this past year have been attending Real Estate Barcamp (REBarcamp) accross the State of California.  I attended 5 this year.  I found it fascinating to learn and understand the challenges that Agents perceive and the innovations Agents have created to survive the past few years….it was different than what most mortgage types are talking about.

    Neither of these groups are about mortgages or lending and yet I take black pearls from each meeting or event I attend, innovations that others have applied to their own business, and modified it to apply to mine.

    Some of my best ideas come from places that have absolutely nothing to do with lending or mortgages, sometimes not even the Real Estate industry.

    So next time you you get an opportunity to join a group, or attend an event that is NOT about doing your job better – Jump on that opportunity.

    I guarantee that you will take away more cutting edge,  innovative ideas than you ever could by attending this year’s Goliath industry event designed to tell you how to do your job better and by the way, here is a nifty new product/system we created to help you improve your business – and if you buy today…….You get the idea.

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    Unchaining a Bloodhound Pup

    It’s funny, I am almost never at a loss for words. I have an opinion on just about any topic and am usually a passionate conversationalist….but put me in the yard with the Big Dogs and I’m feeling a little puppyish (you’ll find that I like to make up words).

    To introduce myself I want to tell you about the path that led me here.  I found BHB right as things started to really get hairy in the third and fourth quarter of 2007.

    I have to admit I had trouble understanding much of what I read here about technology, SEO and Greg’s passionate dissertations that seemed like they were written in Greek (come to think of it, maybe it was Latin).

    I could not resist being drawn to this incredible community of creative, innovative and free thinking professionals sharing openly their trials and their triumphs as they searched for answers when we really didn’t know exactly what the questions were, or what they would be.  It was a true mastermind of master minds.

    When I found out about Bloodhound Unchained in 2008 I spent every cent that I had to buy a plane ticket and book a seedy hotel to be there.  I still remember, the cheapest hotel I could find was about a mile and a half from the Heard Museum.  I grew up on a farm in Michigan and figured “a mile and a half, no problem – i can do that in my sleep!”…and I don’t recall any mention on the announcement for Unchained about Arizona heat.  Even in April it was about 109 degrees!

    So I showed up every day, lugging my $300 Fry’s laptop that someone lent me the money for, soaking wet, looking like I swam to the event like that dumb Michael Phelps Subway commercial they keep playing during the football playoff games.

    I had already read about, and implemented fully without completely understanding,  long tail SEO strategies posted by Greg on the blog.  I was almost blinded by the innovation in the conference and found solace at a time when everything seems like an uphill battle….we’re talking Everest uphill.

    I remember the last day of the conference, people were standing up and talking about what they took away from the gathering.  At that time, public speaking and even being in crowds was very uncomfortable for me, but I had something I had to share.

    While people were sharing their take aways and what they learned, I got an email notification from another application that came in from my long tail, bloodhound inspired homeownership education blog – it was really working, I stood up and shared the Win.  Little did I know, it was all about to go off!

    I spent the next year working on my blogs and my social media systems.  I created specific and measurable mechanisms within the system for identifying metrics for tracking the monetization of my efforts.

    I continued to learn and share what I learned and practiced implementing crazy ideas that I thought there was no way I can ever learn all this stuff.  If these guys can do it, so can I.

    Fast forward to 2009.  I was still struggling to ramp things up, still reinventing, modifying and manipulating my systems in an effort to automate and simplify my marketing processes and continue to grow, getting closer to thriving in a down market.

    Then it happened again.  Unchained 2009.  After 3 straight 12 to 15 hour days of sharing, learning, teaching and challenging – I reinvented myself and my systems again.

    2009 ended with our company providing loans for 191 families that bought new homes.  Our 100% online, social media based marketing systems generated all of our leads organically, resulting in the 13 employees in our company making a respectable living for themselves and their families.

    Moving into 2010 I feel a tipping point where we are operating, for the first time in over 2 years, with a completely offensive strategy making our business happen as opposed to having things happen…turns out it’s really just a mindset.

    I owe a debt of gratitude to the Hounds.  I have made and maintained some incredibly rich and rewarding friendships IRL (in real life) with many I have met over the past couple of years through Bloodhound.

    It is an honor and a privilege to be invited to share here.  I can only hope that I can offer as much value to the readers of this blog as I have myself received from reading it.

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