So, as I write this… HAMP is still the problem it’s been since the New Year began.

There are hundreds of thousands of trial modifications and far too few permanent ones. Too many homeowners are still reporting that they don’t pass the undisclosed NPV test, and then only days later they find out that they’ve lost their home to a trustee sale when they find the investors that purchased their home standing on their front porch looking in their windows admiring their purchase.

And that simply cannot be considered even remotely acceptable to me or anyone else, for that matter.

Okay, so part of the problem lies with Congress… and part of the problem, TRUTH BE TOLD, lies with homeowners themselves, although I certainly don’t want anyone to take that statement the wrong way, so please do read on…

The fact is that modifying a mortgage in this country is a voluntary proposition as far as lenders and servicers are concerned.  And that’s a matter of the law in this country.  There simply isn’t a statute that allows the government to make the modification of a legally binding mortgage contract a mandatory event.  The government can say they want loans modified, and they can provide incentives to encourage lenders to modify loans, but that’s about the long and short of it.

That’s why HAMP has “Guidelines”… Not Rules… “Guidelines”… Not Laws… Only “Guidelines”.

The reason I say that responsibility for this legislative shortcoming falls to homeowners is that Congress is responsive to large and powerful special interest groups, and it’s hard to imagine a larger and more powerful special interest group than that of the 20 million or so homeowners who have either already lost homes to foreclosure, or will lose a home to foreclosure in the next couple of years.  You heard me right… 20 million American homeowners… certainly one of the largest and special-est interest groups to ever forgo wielding influence in our democracy.

Do the math people… we’ve already lost seven million homes to foreclosure, and this year’s estimates show that another four or five million are all but certain to be renters by year’s end. In fact, Goldman Sachs, who I can’t stand for many reasons, but has proven to be nothing if not prescient in these matters, forecasts 14 million homes lost to foreclosure in the next three years.  And 14 plus 7… yep, that’s 20+ million, sure as shootin’.

Twenty million homeowners all focused on the House of Representatives is the sort of thing that gives politicians night tremors, restless leg syndrome, and ultimately panic attacks.

Can you imagine the power of that… or even of half that number… or of half that number again… or even half again… why, we could write our own ticket in the groundbreaking legislation department.  Those Honorables in Washington would be scrambling to pass laws that would curry to our fancy faster than you could say “Synthetic CDO,” and a damn sight faster at that.

Why the banking lobby starts to look downright puny next to millions of American homeowners all shouting at the same time… “Congress better take note!  We intend to use our VOTE!” Yep, after that the foreclosure crisis would be going on maybe as long as another twenty or thirty minutes.  Zip-bang… by golly… problem solved.

You see, the Founding Fathers set up the House of Representatives to be elected every two years so they’d always be responsive to the electorate.  The House has the power to override a Presidential Veto, while the Senate gets to approve the President’s cabinet appointees… like that’s a big deal.  And there’s only one thing more important than money to our elected representatives… and that’s getting reelected.  Money may be important to those in the House, but compared to getting reelected, well… fuggetaboutit.

And that’s all the financial lobbyists can offer our Honorable Members of the House of Representatives… money… campaign cash… nothing more.  But millions of homeowners across this country that are united by purpose can not only throw together a few million drachma just by checking under the cushions of their couches at home, but they can also threaten to throw every single incumbent out of politics for good… and how do you think those in Congress think about those apples?

So, although I’m pro-homeowner every single step of the way… and you’ll never hear me utter a disparaging word about someone who is at risk of losing his or her home, I have seen the enemy and it is us, the American homeowner… well, less me than you, truth be told.  (Yeah, I said it… so, what are you going to do about it?)

Of all of the many things I’ve learned during my year plus inundated by the foreclosure crisis, the one thing I know most assuredly is that this crisis has been allowed to go on as long as it has because too many American homeowners either feel too helpless to even attempt to affect change, or they’re too damn lazy to try.  I don’t know which is the more accurate statement, but I do know this:

Too many American homeowners are living bound by the shame of losing a home or being at risk of losing a home… and it’s wrong… damn wrong… they should not feel as they so obviously do, because where they find themselves today is not their fault.

It’s our financial institutions that have caused our nation’s and in fact the world’s economic downfall.  You didn’t do it because you decided to refinance your home… I don’t care if you took the money to pay for a college education, a new car, or a trip to Hawaii and a new roof besides.  You’re just not important enough to have caused the end of American prosperity as we’ve known it for some 70 years… only the bankers of Wall Street have that kind of economic clout.

They’ve done awfully well as we’ve watched trillions in consumer wealth go up in smoke, have you noticed that?  The banks had their best year ever last year, in terms of bonuses.  The top six banks set aside $120 billion for 2009’s year-end bonuses, and frankly that should make you angrier than a wet hornet.  A year ago we were told that we had to bail the banks out with untold trillions… that’s right, TARP isn’t all there was to it… and a year later they’re rolling in dough?

We know they’re not lending.  What are they doing to make all this money if they’re not lending?  Bake sales?  Renting out their conference rooms for AA meetings in the evenings?  Charging those recovering drunks for coffee, cause that might actually make them a few billion in cold hard cache.  (It’s a joke people… have you never been to an AA meeting?)

I don’t care what they’ve been doing.  That’s right, I’m not even going to go look it up.  Doesn’t matter a bit, it’s still wrong, wrong, and then some, wrong.  You don’t break the financial market to such a degree that you bring the entire world to the brink of total disaster, get bailed out by the tax payers, and then start throwing around billions in bonuses the following year, as you offer to pee in the hair of a few million homeowners who you claim had no business buying their home in the first place.

Boy, this is one of those areas where every time I think about it, I miss the unabashed violence of High School.  You pull this kind of crap where I went to High School, and you get your Aunt Fannie kicked from here to next St. Patrick’s Day, simple as that.  Open and shut… that’s ball four… take a hike… you are all done here, young man… the showers are on.

This is the year of our Lord, two thousand and ten, an election year, and in case you’re not entirely sure why that’s significant, it means that even the slightest rift in our electoral fault line can leave our elected representatives feeling like Christian Scientists with appendicitis.

In other words, this is it people… it’s our time.  We’re the body politic, and we will be heard. This is the year we NEED to shake, rattle and roll our congressional representatives.

Homeowners are in the House…

Sing it with me… Hey… Ho… Hey… Ho…

Yeah, so what if that was really embarrassing?  I’m willing to humiliate myself over this shiz.

It’s time to wake up people.  It’s time to speak up.  Could I make it any clearer?  I know… you’re embarrassed about being in this predicament… boo hoo, boo hoo… I get it.  But that’s no excuse to give up your political power to bring positive change in this country.  Too busy?  Yeah, me too.

But if you’re not going to do more, try harder, and scream ever louder… then let’s stop all the complaining about how lousy the President’s loan modification program is, okay?  ‘Cause that’s just empty bitching, don’t you think?

Read on… here’s a way you can get involved and we can make our voice heard, if only for one moment in history… so, let’s make some… history, I mean.  I know you got one dollar.  Yes you do betch… break it out… please?

A Hundred Thousand Homeowners – Voices of Hope & Change

A Hundred Thousand Homeowners – Voices of Hope and Change is my attempt to bring together a movement of homeowners in this election year, in order to have a voice that’s heard in the halls of Congress.  Here’s my thinking on this:

A. Homeowners aren’t more vocal because they are ashamed, they feel powerless, and to some degree they are just plain tired, but mostly they are ashamed.  They don’t want anyone to know that they’ve lost their home to foreclosure, or that they are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure.

As a result, there is no voice in Washington D.C. representing homeowners and demanding that our elected officials do more to help those that are being tormented by the economic catastrophe that was caused by the lack of regulation over the practices of Wall Street’s bankers.

B. Seven million people have lost homes to foreclosure.  Another 14 million are at risk of losing a home to foreclosure in the next three years, according to Goldman Sachs.  If I could recruit just 100,000 homeowners to each contribute one dollar and sign on to the project, I would use that money to produce a “Video Documentary Message” that would be delivered… on DVD in high-impact, oversized, brightly colored packaging… ALL ON A SINGLE DAY, to:

  • Every member of the House of Representatives
  • Every member of the United States Senate
  • The White House
  • 4,000 Major Media Outlets, including television, radio, and print
  • The CEO’s Office of the roughly 8,000 Banks in this country
  • Every major non-profit housing agency’s Director or Executive in Charge
  • Others To Be Determined

Each packaged DVD would be addressed as follows:

“A Video Documentary Message for:

The Honorable John Q. Senator

From:  A Hundred Thousand Homeowners –

The Voices of Hope & Change”

C. The video documentary message would showcase the real life of what’s happening to homeowners in this country every single day.  How they are being treated by the bankers who have promised to participate in the President’s Home Affordable Modification Program.  Why they are where they are, and that they are not there as a result of being irresponsible.  What American homeowners want from their government, and why it is that what we want, is what’s best for America.

The video documentary message would ask our elected representatives to consider and take action on the following:

1. We want Congress to act to strengthen the HAMP program by adding hard and fast rules under which banks MUST write down a mortgage.  The program is funded by tax dollars and is NOT WORKING on a voluntary basis. Here’s how banks view loan modifications.

2. We want the Treasury Department or Congress to impose penalties on lenders and servicers who break the rules under HAMP.  Here’s what a judge said about HAMP rules.

3. We want Congress to allow judges to modify mortgages in bankruptcy court, just like what President Obama spoke of in his speech introducing the program that would allow for judicial loan modifications.  The threat alone would motivate banks to do it themselves. My article on the subject: WE NEED JUDGES TO MODIFY THE WAY BANKS BEHAVE.

4. We want HAMP to require principal reductions under appropriate circumstances.  It’s not fair for banks to be able to foreclose on a home and then sell it to a new buyer for half the balance on the mortgage just to get it off of their books.  FDIC’s SHEILA BAIR AGREES: Read About What She Says Here.

5. Congress must remove the incentives that banks have to foreclose instead of modifying a loan. Read Diane Thompson’s testimony in front of the senate.

D. Because the Video Documentary message will be delivered on the same day, it’ll make news.  And when it makes news, other homeowners will see what we’ve done, and when they do, I believe the 100,000 will become 300,000… maybe even 500,000.

And then I can send an email to everyone involved that asks each homeowner to send a letter and a big bag of sunflower seeds to one Senator’s office for one specific purpose.  And when that Senator comes into work the next morning and finds a few hundred thousand bags of sunflowers seeds with letters attached, he’s going to be paying attention to what that letter says.

After that, perhaps there will be so many homeowners trying to be heard that we will all go around planting sunflowers in our yards and in the yards of others.  Who knows… maybe you won’t be able to drive down a single street in some parts of town without seeing sunflowers popping up everywhere.

At the end of the day, homeowners will have a voice and that voice will be heard.

It’s only one dollar, but that’s not the problem… the problem is the shame that prevents you from spreading the message to others.  You see, I don’t just need your dollar, I need you to recruit as many other homeowners as you can… and ask them to recruit others as well.  I know the desire is there, the need is there… the passion is there… but it won’t happen by snapping fingers, or clicking buttons.  If you’re willing to believe, we need you and we need you now.  Here’s a link to more details about the A Hundred Thousand Homeowners initiative.

And yes, I’m the right guy to produce the Video Documentary message.  Check YouTube for Mandelman.  You’ll see some clips of the work I’ve done in the past.  Combine that, with close to 300 articles written over the last year, and I think you come to the conclusion that I’m the right person at the right time.  I’m just saying…

Read it.  And then click the damn DONATE button on the home page and send  the damn dollar.  Seriously… it’s a dollar.  A buck.  It’s got to be worth a buck just for the chance to call me a loser when I can’t get more than a few thousand homeowners on board.  And, don’t worry, should that be the case, I’m going to donate every dollar received to the charity that remodels homes for handicapped war veterans.  Fair enough?

AND… Now Available: The REST Report

The REST Report is in my opinion, the best thing to happen to loan modifications since… well, since forever.

It’s the only way a homeowner can know with certainty whether or not he or she qualifies for a HAMP loan modification.  Period.  And it’s the latest thing I’ve learned about, since beginning my journey into the land of foreclosures and loan modifications almost two years ago.

It’s easy to sit back and criticize HAMP loan modifications, I’ve certainly offered more than my share of such criticism.  But so what?  HAMP is here, and HAMP isn’t going anywhere.  I wanted to offer something that would make a positive difference… something that would help homeowners to make the best of a situation that’s certainly less than ideal.  So, after ten months of hard work and investigation, I’m proud to be able to offer the REST Report to homeowners.

The REST Report is an 11-page report that will tell you with certainty whether you will pass the NPV test and qualify for a HAMP loan modification.  It’s a version of the same software used by banks and servicers to determine HAMP eligibility, and it’s the only platform that can tell you whether you pass the NPV test, as required by the US Treasury.  There’s no way I would even consider going through the loan modification process without having run my own REST Report and that’s the plain truth.

Here’s a link to my article on the REST Report, and I urge you in the strongest possible terms to read it if you are currently in the process of obtaining a loan modification, or if you are thinking of applying for a loan modification: The Best Thing to Happen to Loan Modifications Since… Well, Since Forever.

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