The first two months of the year are always the most sluggish part of the year, just picture all those bleary-eyed, hung-over, pudgy characters struggling back into their office cubicle.
Yes, Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years, followed by Chinese New Year, and now you want us to work?
Added to this year is the political phenomenon known as “The Donald” and work really takes a secondary precedence.
The market is struggling to right itself before it starts hopping, sales of real estate are still creeping along, and there seems to be a dearth of cancellations after openings.
What’s up with that?
Meanwhile, we escrow queens now have the opportunity to clean desk, clean files, and twiddle our thumbs.
Oh, and don’t you just love it when gas prices jump $0.30 overnight?
WHAT’S UP FOR THE CFPB IN 2016?
Where does time fly? It has been five years since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was set up, theoretically to protect and look out for the consumers and prevent the economy from collapsing like it did in 2007.
With their new regulations governing residential lending, which they optimistically call “Know Before You Owe” and we, on the receiving end of the regs call “TRID” or “The Reason I Drink”, 2016 will be the year in which the CFPB will review the abilities of the lending, mortgage, title and escrow industries to toe the line and stay in compliance.
It is safe to say that we are all nervous, because penalties can go from $5,000 to $25,000 to $1,000,000 per day if files are not brought into compliance.
This short article lays out our fears: the CFPB is here to stay, irrespective of which political party wins in November, and they have firmed up their ground structure for enforcement in all of the areas of consumer personal borrowing.
There are a lot of Nervous Nellies out there, and their names are: HSBC, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase…. Ever heard of them?
Knowing their reputation and huge wing span, Director Richard Corday is continuously marketing the CFPB as a gentle giant who only has the consumers’ interests at heart.
His speech at the credit union national trade association asks the financial industry to stop looking at them as their “enemy” but look at them as their “new friend and ally”.
Yes. This is a friend which will think nothing of fining you millions. Perhaps the word to describe the relationship is “frenemy”.
Looking forward to the CFPB’s 5th anniversary this year, Director Cordray has come out with a 9 point plan, with their first and foremost objective being, of course, the delivery of “tangible value to consumers”.
You can read a summarization of his speech and his plans here. I have to admit that having been on the receiving end of the “unintended consequences” of the CFPB’s well meaning but poorly conceived plans, I have to wonder how many real consumers out there really know or care about the plans their watch dog has to oversee their lives.
Lofty goals, but implementation will be a bitch and the fall out (unintended consequences) could be even worse.
BRANDING YOURSELF ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
More and more I hear customers tell me that they looked me up through social media to determine what kind of a person was going to handle their transaction.
I have even heard that Lenders have internal departments who will Google an Escrow Officer or go on Linked in and Facebook to see what they can find.
Presumably, if I am posting lots of pictures of me in a bar, they are going to look askance at my moral character and my abilities to stay sober enough to handle their transactions.
I understand that many HR departments check out their potential hires, so it is a natural step to assume that Real Estate agents and Lenders, who will rely on me to handle millions of dollars, will do the same.
Invasion of privacy?
Not the way I see it. If you don’t want the world to know, then don’t post it.
With that being said I am sharing one small but important article and ask that you pass it on, particularly to the Millennials, who are much more susceptible to the unintended consequences of arbitrary postings of their lives on these social media sites.
To those of you who are professionals and are have a substantial presence in social media, here is your article for do’s and don’ts.
Consider this my “public service announcement” for the month!
RE-BRANDING BY A NATIONAL LENDER
While we are on the subject of branding, I came across this interesting article just recently, regarding the “re-branding’ of a national lender, in this case, Nationstar Mortage.
This company, which also took over Greenlight Loans not too long ago, is now going to be known as “Mr. Cooper”.
Yes, you read right – Mr. Cooper. I can’t figure out if this is a super marketing ploy, or the dumbest move. Can you imagine?
“Who’s your Lender?” “Mr. Cooper”.
“Today the CFPB is going to call on “Mr. Cooper” for compliance audit.”
I need a payoff demand from “Mr. Cooper”.
I work for “Mr. Cooper”
“Mr. Cooper denied my loan”….. etc, etc. Interesting.
It’s like Quicken Loans branding off to “Rocket Mortgage” … “My loan is going to take off like a rocket”. Yeah, right.
For those of you who know about the sale of Business Opportunities (business and its assets), there is such a thing as “Goodwill” – that intangible component to your business that is made up of your brand name, your reputation, and name recognition.
I guess that when you are that large (Nationstar and Quicken), you can change your name to anything you want and not worry about losing market share. In fact, you will gain some, just by having the guts to do it.
And look all the added publicity when you have fun with it on national sports events.
THE BANE OF THE IRS – PHISHING SCAMS:
This bulletin from the IRS is their warning to “taxpayers to be extra cautious and think twice before answering suspicious phone calls, emails or letters”. As we come into the income tax preparation season, I find this a particularly timely public announcement, especially for the elderly and the new immigrants.
As the article points out, scammers use fear and aggressive tactics to scare the folks into doing their bidding. Pass this message on to your family and friends. Do not get taken in!
CHECK FRAUDS, WIRE FRAUDS:
While we are on the subject of phishing and fraud scams, my company, just in the last week, received two phone calls from out of town individuals to verify checks that they received from a third party drawn from an account that purportedly had our logo on it.
Upon verification of the name of the bank and the check number we had to advise them that they were fraudulent checks.
The common link between these two different cases in two different states seems to be CraigsList ads they posted that someone answered to.
And as a matter of management procedure, we will no longer be taking net proceeds wire instructions embedded in e-mail communication.
We will require our proceeds instructions form to be completed and signed, and in some cases, if deemed suspect due to changes, we will call the client and verify over the phone.
EMOJIS AND THE POLITICAL SCENE:
Emojis, those little faces and characters that denote your feelings have evolved to a point in which I sometimes need a glossary just to be able to translate it. It is appearing in all areas of our normal life, whether it is social, political or, in this case – political / real estate.
Take a gander at this extreme real estate Listing description put out by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and see if you can match the emojis to its linguistic counterpart!
On that amusing note after a depressing commentary on the state of US, let me end this news blog with this quote:
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight”
~Phyllis Diller ̴