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Friday, November 30, 2007

Dealing with people who just don't care...

I’m trying to do deals mostly on foreclosed houses right now, because that’s what all my buyers want. There are what appear to be good deals all over the place out there right now. I say “trying to do” because much of the time I have to deal with people who just don’t care – about the house, about the buyers or about the agents involved. Once a property goes to an “REO Asset Manager” it becomes nothing but a number, a statistic, something to be dealt with in an abstract sense. It has ceased to be a house (it ceased being a home some time back) and is now just a “case file,” with a number.

The people handling those case files are likely overworked and overwhelmed by the load these days; at least I imagine that they are, because that’s the only excuse I can think of for how surly and detached many of them (but not all) appear to be when dealing with the people trying to buy one of their assets. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that all of the rules of how a normal real estate transaction should happen go out the window. Each bank makes up it’s own rules and dictates those rules to anyone who might wish to buy the asset. Disclosures – “we don’t need no stinking disclosures”. Repairs – “we don’t make no stinking repairs.” Mold, water damage, frozen pipes, animal feces on the floor – “those are your problems not ours.” And, they all also have their own version of the Sergeant Schultz denial (see my post of September 22) of any knowledge about anything to do with the asset.

The worst part of trying to deal with these folks is that many aren’t professional in their behavior towards the other parties in the transaction, they’re just downright rude. They don’t return calls, they don’t return emails, they don’t do anything that isn’t in their own best interests and to their own timetable. Why? Because, they don’t have to. They aren’t regulated by anyone. They apparently don’t have any professional or ethical standards to uphold. They don’t seem to have anyone to answer to, except, maybe, some “management committee” somewhere, that is only looking at the numbers and not the behavior surrounding those numbers.

One by one, as I have to deal with these clowns, I’m making my own “case file.” There are banks, that I have to deal with now on foreclosed homes; that I will choose not to deal with later, when the market returns. There is never any excuse for the kinds of unprofessional and rude behavior that we’re experiencing right now and it will come back to haunt those banks that are not monitoring and managing their REO asset management people. Even in a foreclosure situation, the banks should watch to make sure that their asset managers aren’t damaging their reputations and images. The banks may say, "Yes, but those aren't really our employees; we just hire these companies to manage the sale of foreclosed properties." Well, just like a bad truck driver on the roadway; if your company's name is on the truck, you get the blame, whether you hired the truck driver or not. Banks and mortgage companies should consider that and do a better job of monitoring how their "assets" are being represented in the market. The bigger asset is your reputation in the market, so protect all your assets.

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