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Washington is at it again. If you've ever worked with HAMP or HAFA, you already know that sometimes the cure may be worse than the disease. Now, the U.S. Treasury is pushing a "single contact" initiative to the largest mortgage lenders using the HAMP, HAFA and Up programs. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Once a borrower is in the process with the lender he is handled off to one person who handles his file throughout the process. Borrowers are assigned to one person, one point of contact. That point of contact makes sure the borrower has two methods of contact for him. He explains all of the possibilities available to the borrower, and they work together to solve the borrowers mortgage issue.
At first glance, I thought, "This is great. It will make things so much easier for both borrower and lender." And then, reality settled in. Wait a minute. This is the same lender that loses your short sale file on 3 out of 4 attempts to submit. It's the same lender that pays the current contact $10 an hour to answer the phone, answer your questions from a script and transfer your call to the next person who is going to hear your story. What could go wrong?
Think about it. This point of contact will need to understand the mortgage process from loan commitment through loss mitigation. He will need to know state laws concerning bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sales and deed in lieu of foreclosure. Most of the current asset managers I deal with handle up to 300 files at one time. This person will need to handle an insurmountable number of borrower files, as well as, be the one "expert" dealing each one of those borrowers. He will need to be available throughout the business day to any and all borrowers on his current file list. Call centers will need to be divided to accommodate this new division for these consenting lenders. Most mortgage providers don't consolidate bankruptcy, loan modification, short sales, foreclosure or even delinquent borrowers in the same department. That will mean more hires, more equipment, more locations and more overhead.
I certainly don't want to pour cold water on an attempt to help with the mortgage mess we're in, but I'm not sure going back to the same people who already make problem loan issues miserable is a good fix. I definitely agree that somewhere along the line a more streamlined process must be initiated, but is this it? Beyond the challenges we already face with lenders, is their partner, the US government, who is on the verge of their own bankruptcy the best formulator of a sophisticated mortgage banking shift? If they can't pay their own bills maybe they need a single point of contact in China. I guess time will tell.