This is going to be short and sweet. I owe my buddy Mandalman an apology. It's going to be slightly off handed, but an apology just the same.
Mandelman had insisted for several months that it's just this side of impossible to negotiate a mortgage modification without a professional mortgage modification firm working on your behalf.
He had insisted for no less than five months, that government help lines were useless, and that non profit credit counseling firms are largely ineffective. Was this truly the case, or simply a fellow writers obsession?
Being a Doubting Thomas type, I decided a little personal research was called for..
The first prevalent condition I unearthed was one of denial.
In speaking with the State Attorney Generals' office of Oregon, Washington and Nevada, I was informed, and they did back up the information with data, that there were very few consumer complaints of mortgage related wrong doing.
The numbers were a piffle 55 in Washington, 18 in Oregon, and a handful of consumer complaints in Nevada. On the whole, less than one hundred mortgage related consumer complaints in a 20 million or so population base.
UNHEARD OF. Why was the Obama administration making such an effort to steer consumers away from private sector modification firms, and was there truly a problem with with firms that required a fee for modification services provided?
Based on the numbers, one could assume that there were few if any predatory mortgage modification firms. We would discover later that a handful did exist, but this was nation wide.
Why was the Obama administration telling the public "not to pay, just walk away? Was the Executive branch and mega finance in bed with each other? I would discover in my research that several mega banks were funding non profits through million dollar grants.
You see, I had been asked by Mandelman to research complaints in the state of Oregon , made by consumers that had been taken advantage of by private sector for profit mortgage adjustment firms.
My data indicated that there were in real terms , Few to none.
President Obama had advised the American people to "Don't pay just walk away" And the Mandelman March was going to find out why.
The State Attorney Generals' office statistics are compiled and grouped under categories. Any and all mortgage related, or Real Estate loan fraud is grouped under mortgage complaints. Based on data provided by the states Attorney Generals' office, I had come to the conclusion that there was not a problem with" For Charge "Mortgage modification Firms. At least not reported problems.
On sharing that information with Mandelman, communication between myself and Martin Andelman, the founder of Mandelmans March, came to an abrupt halt. It became quite obvious that Martin did not want to hear it.
He was not looking for a lack of mortgage modification problems, He was looking for an indication that the government had stepped out of reasonable bounds in their " Warning ' to the American public.
Based on field research gathered, It was my qualified opinion that the mortgage mod firms were performing badly, ( Time Lines) and that the major banks had stepped up production. The Banks were modifying mortgages by the hundreds of thousands. It appeared that the lending institutions that had fueled the housing melt down, were now being paid by the Fed to clean up their own mess.
Not only were incentives paid to the financial sector to modify mortgages , but they appeared to have the president in their corner batting off the private modification firms.
The Government had effectively aided and abetted the stone walling of the floundering mortgage modification industry.
In later news it would be divulged that the Fed had injected no less than 75 billion dollars into the financial sector to cover the cost of mortgage modification. Not only did this rob freedom of choice from the consumer, it effectively undermined Obamas' Home ownership stabilization act. Rendering the program useless to most consumers that found property values eroding below the federally mandated level of 105% .
Useless in areas that had seen 40 % declines in market value.
Mandalman became as tough to reach as the loss mitigation department at Citi Bank. He had Wells Fargo'ed out on me. I had reached an endless loop on a message machine that was not picking up. Seemed a bit strange for an organization that had recruited me as a volunteer.
Good enough, I had been a bit abrasive. Perhaps I had insulted my online Friend? Perhaps he was extremely busy. I would go with the second choice. I did not have time to worry about the first.
Had Martin been kidnapped by Wells Fargo ? No joke, He had been tough on Wells over the last few months, perhaps they had drawn his number. I didn't know, and he wasn't saying.
Stranger things had happened. A political activist and muckraker side tracked by the corporate financial sector. He had messed with the big boys, had Mandelman finally caught the attention of government and the financial sector?.
As weeks flew by , I left several messages and E.Mails. I was justifiably concerned, no response. And then some time in June, I received an E.Mail from Mandelman apologizing for the silence. He had not been kidnapped by Wells or Citi, he was simply buried in work. And according to him, the Mandelman March was progressing famously.
Now this is were the story takes a turn for the worse.
Of course this is the middle of July and I have had no updates on the Mandelman March. So I took a look at M.L. Implodes' Mandelman Matters column. Mandelman wrote an article last May, lambasting mortgage modification firms. It appeared that many did not share his view of a major need for recognition by the federal and State governments, and had ignored his invitation to join the march.
In his article he had strongly advised these modification firms to join his effort or get lost in the dust.
Once again it appeared that Mandelman actually knew more about the pending doom on the horizon, than the firms he was attempting to protect.
Mandalman is somewhat of a gifted savant when it comes to the world of political driven financial policy. He of -course adamantly believes that the public should have a choice when it comes to mortgage modification. I agree.
What he has apparently not recognized, is that the federal and state governments backed off of their don't pay walk away policy. I reported this to his group months ago. They didn't want to hear it.
In viewing the Oregon and Washington state web sites, it became apparent that the government had taken a neutral position. Not good enough for Mandelman, "THE MARCH." continued.
BEST OF INTENTIONS ARE OFTEN PURE OF INTENT AND INGENIOUS BY DESIGN :
Mandelmans' vision was grand and just. He envisioned a fairer world for the consumer, isolated from the evils and deceit of our modern day world.
Warning his readers of government funded lending institutions that ignored the wants and needs of the people. Mandelman guiding thousands along the path, towards relief from bankrupt property ownership, as they watched their dreams turn into dust. He had educated thousands.
Somewhere along the journey, Mandelman took a wrong turn In his quest for greater public exposure.
Mandelman received a phone call from the owners of M.L. Implode, a website that specialized in the mortgage sector crash of 2008. Mandelman excitedly shared with those in his circle that M.L. Implode had hundreds of thousands of readers, and although a pittance by Mandelmans' standards, M.L. Implode would pay him for spreading the word as the feature columnist of their web site. A vehicle to spread the word of consumer help, a writers dream.
What he didn't get at the time was the irony of the set up.
Not only was M.L. Implodes revenue stream generated by firms advertising their services as mortgage modifiers, but they were relentlessly hammering the message home. Mod firms, do it yourself books, Law firms, all advertising to supposedly help those in need of mortgage modification. Had Mandelman taken a wrong turn in his quest for consumer justice?
The Banks had failed, the system was broken, the government is your enemy, and the great conspiracy of the 21st century had destroyed the system that had worked for decades, and was now going to take your home.
Not a pretty picture. And all of it was dressed in swastika red. M.L. Implode had a radical appearance on the Internet, almost militaristic.
Not necessarily a good place for a liberal that was looking out for the well being of his fellow man.
Good intentions often fail due to misconceptions. And from what I have viewed, the misconception may very well be that the Mandelman March is financially motivated.
Mandelmans' goal as conveyed to his readers was and is to educate the general public of the inner workings of government, as well as the financial sector. Unfortunately he has taken on the responsibility to enlighten the federal government as well as the financial sector. Those entities are not as receptive to change as the public is to information.
From where I sit, and judging by his short list of recommended mortgage mod firms, The "Mandelman March" has hit a wall. But then again, he may very well have been more effective than he will ever know.
THIS IS WHERE THE APOLOGY COMES TO PLAY :
In a recent encounter with a fellow real estate associate. I was informed that he was within days of loosing his home, due to lack of income. He had been working , but not getting paid. Escrows were not closing. This had been going on since March, and was now coming to a head with his lender.
It was Mandalmans' arch nemesis Wells Fargo. My buddy was now days away from the court house steps. His home was to be auctioned off on the following Tuesday.
He had made several attempts to contact his lender on the phone. No luck. This had gone on for months, he was now out of time. Wells had informed him that he would have to come up with $8900 by Monday morning to save his home from auction. He couldn't make his utility payment, much less come up with $8900.
THE REST OF the STORY:
My Friend contacted a non profit home owner advocacy group. They informed him that because of their relationship with the lender, they could have his auction date postponed, and negotiate a reasonable mortgage adjustment for $ 980.00.
In two business days the non profit consumer counselor was able to cancel the auction date as well as begin negotiations with Wells Fargo. Six months ago, this process would have taken weeks, even months, if at all.
In this writers opinion, the Lenders, as well as the mortgage adjustment firms have stepped up to the task at hand. This progressive action is in direct response to the public outcry fueled by the information held in the articles of one Martin Adelman, pen name Mandelman, discovered on Newsvine in December of 2008. He has accomplished more than he will ever realize.
UPDATE: A recent E.Mail from Mandelman informed me that all is well. His efforts continue to move forward. He is currently working on defeating pending legislation in California.
Martin continues to lecture business, can be viewed on U.Tube, and is currently working on bringing his readership to 100,000.
I'm proud to have him as a follower on twitter, and look forward to his weekly comments. while we don't always see eye to eye, I congratulate him on his riotous perseverance, and wish him well in his roll as consumer advocate.
Thank you Martin. and happy anniversary on Newsvine. one year this month.