Monthly Archives: December 2010

Title Issues in Foreclosuregate

From the heart of Roll Tide country. This picture has nothing to do with this post.

Were I not driving across this great big nation of ours, I would have been far more productive on blogging about foreclosuregate. As it is, I’m fairly limited to writing at various truck stops in a larger work that hopes to lay out all of the issues and what the real estate industry can and should do about it.

At the same time, there are issues that I find compelling to at least discuss, seek comments and insights, as I work through the extraordinarily complex scenarios. One such issue is the impact on title.

In discussions with title industry experts on the topic, I’ve been assured that the whole “foreclosuregate” which began with the robosigning scandal won’t have a dramatic impact on title. First, various experts have told me that all the robosigning stuff is just technicalities, details that don’t change the actual economic fact of a borrower who owes money, and a lender who is owed money. Some servicers have cut corners and possibly committed perjury and fraud, but once people get into the files and start unravelling things, it’ll all come clear. Second, I have been advised that the actual act of foreclosure itself clears title, at least for subsequent good-faith purchasers.

Upon further review, I’m not convinced that either scenario will hold up. There may indeed be serious and significant title issues that could affect millions of properties, millions of buyers, title insurance companies, and lenders for years to come.

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About Those Radio Ads…

This is a brief post from the road.

One benefit (?) of driving all day long is that you get to hear all the radio ads you’ve been missing as a denizen of cyberspace. Well, one radio commercial I’ve heard over and over and over and over again through six states is that one that begins “MORTGAGES SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!” You know the one I’m talking about, right?

Now, the commercial is patently ridiculous on its face. I have to hope that even dumbasses realize that if mortgages were in fact illegal, they wouldn’t have gotten the loan to buy the house they’re living in, and they would still be paying rent to Mr. Potter. (Oh yes, did I mention that A Wonderful Life was on during Christmas? And that it seems eerily prescient of the world we live in today?) But these commercials are running everywhere, 24×7, and clearly telling consumers “You’re getting ripped off by the banks if you take out a mortgage!”

What got me wondering is whether that commercial and others like it, which constantly denigrate banks, call mortgages illegal and immoral, and talk about how you can transform debt into wealth and all other sorts of nonsense are having an effect nonetheless on the real estate market. Wall Street Journal the other day profiled a homeowner who walked away from an underwater mortgage, despite being able to pay. I just wonder if there’s a connection at all between these guys who are hawking whatever debt consolidation or credit counseling services they’re offering using fairly… ah… hyperbolic language and the increasing social acceptance of “strategic defaults”.

For that matter, after being bombarded by those messages on the drive to work and the drive home, I have to wonder how many people would even want to take out a mortgage at all.

Meh. I’m probably hyper-caffeinated and prone to random thoughts on the long roadtrip, but… man, those commercials are starting to get on my nerves.

-rsh

VIPs and Social Networks

So I login to Facebook today just to check out what’s going on, while waiting for the various workers I’ve hired to dig my car (with attached U-Haul trailer) out from under 3′ of snow. And I see that Facebook is recommending a friend to me: Dottie Herman, the CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Which got me wondering… is there any point to networking with a VIP on Facebook or Twitter? Really? What is the likelihood that you’ll get real interaction, like from a real human being, from someone so visible? These are individuals who represent major companies or organizations. Are you really going to get to know them as a person in such a public forum?

I know exceptions exist, but for the most part, people who have such senior roles are not likely to be free, open, and human on public social networking sites. Because human beings are imperfect, and being imperfect, sometimes they mis-speak, or are inappropriate for polite company. Hang out with some of the VIP’s off-hours, behind-the-scenes, and you’ll see that those perfectly coiffed, perfectly spoken people are just men and women like any other. But the social media interactions of most VIP’s strike me as carefully crafted as any PR wire release. Everything is either trivial (“Happy Birthday, so-and-so” and “Loved the new movie XYZ”) or carefully neutral pastel-like shades of correct. What’s the point of following such people?

I just don’t think there’s any way you’ll get VIP’s behaving like regular human beings in public. Social media experts are telling young people to be careful what they upload into Facebook, since those pictures of keg stands in Daytona Beach will come back to bite them in the ass when they’re going for a job. What do you think they’re telling CEO’s of companies?

So, what do you think? Are you connected/friends with any VIP’s in or outside of real estate, who aren’t afraid to just let it all hang out? I can only think of a couple myself.

-rsh

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Changes to Notorious R.O.B.

First of all, Merry Christmas, everybody.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Of course, I would also like to wish everyone a wonderful end to 2010, and a happy new year, as we gird up to face 2011.

Second, to all of my readers who put up with overly long posts filled with wonkish Eeyore-like doom and gloom, as well as off-the-wall wackiness, I’d just like to say thank you. As I keep saying, I don’t blog for you but for myself, but I’d be lying if I said you don’t make writing this blog more fun and more educational. I learn more from your comments, both on the blog and via email/twitter/Facebook, than I have ever “taught” through a post. Thank you.

Third, I will be making some significant changes to this my personal blog. I started in January of 2008 with a post that sadly remains as applicable today as it was then:

The Real Estate industry has gone tech-crazy.

Here’s a wakeup call: all that technology does is make your existing processes more efficient. If what you do is crap, it makes crap more efficient. If what you do is valuable, then it makes that more efficient.

Notorious R.O.B. was then, and has always been, my personal blog. It’s where I work out my personal frustrated-writer tendencies and engage in speculative conversation about topics I love discussing: real estate, technology, marketing, and now, public policy. But over the past three years, as many of you have blessed me with visits, with your attention, with thoughtful commentary, I felt like this was becoming more than that. Some of my posts over the past year have been… shall we say far more “authoritative” at least in approach if not in result. Part of the reason, of course, is that I started a consultancy in 2009, changing my relationship with the industry as a whole.

What I’ve decided to do starting in 2011 is to do more of my heavier writing on the 7DS Associates blog. I’ve even redesigned the site, by hand even (which explains any flaws in design and navigation, since I’m no web designer). I’ll keep writing about whatever strikes my fancy here at NROB, and much of that is likely to be real estate related, but I’m going to try hard to keep NROB more personal, more “bloggy”, and reserve some of the heavy-duty stuff I’ve been doing of late requiring hours of research into esoterica of real estate for 7DS.

What you should expect, then, are shorter, more frequent updates to NROB, some of which may have little to nothing to do with real estate. I may end up talking movies, politics, fantasy football, or the Jets. Who knows. The weightier, 3000 words posts you all have come to expect will likely live over at the 7DS blog. If you dig on that sort of thing, well, go on over there and bookmark the 7DS blog. I’ll be doing far more writing over there in the new year.

Thanks again, and see you all on the Internet in 2011!

-rsh

Seven Predictions for 2011, With Music Videos!

Ted Williams: .406 batting average in 1941. Me: .600 in 2009. Sorta...

Coming off of an awesome, Hall-of-Fame type of year in which I batted .600 in predictions (or, alternatively, a year in which I only got 6 out of 10 predictions even remotely close to right, and hence am a big #FAIL), I thought I would don the Nostradamus hat once again and make foolish predictions for 2011. I know I should make 10 predictions, but… y’know, I’m sort of stuck on that number Seven.

Here are seven predictions for 2011. Many are guaranteed to be wrong, or your money back! But as a bonus, each prediction comes with a music video for your entertainment.

[Warning: don’t read this is you’re feeling happy and optimistic, and you want to stay that way. I’m personally feeling happy and optimistic, but as I put this together, I can’t help but want to reach for strong drink for the industry as a whole. I know I tend towards bearishness, and some might suggest, alarmism, so… I’d suggest you go read some other 2011 predictions posts as well. Here are a few I’ve seen myself: Lani on Agent Genius, Greg Robertson on VendorAlley, and this whole series over at Inman.com.

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