Former NACA Home Save Counselor Says Commissions Create Complaints

NACA stands for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America; a nonprofit that provides “Home Save Counselors” to assist homeowners trying to get their mortgages modified.  They put on really big shows at convention centers and have lines of homeowners waiting overnight… that sort of thing.


I’m not sure why, but meeting with a “Home Save Counselor” doesn’t make me feel like I’ll be talking with a commissioned salesperson who will be potentially making up to $1,000 on my loan modification case?  A “Home Save Counselor” is on commission?  What’s next?  Does the nurse in the Emergency Room get a bonus if I get an MRI?


Well, according to a reader of mine who wrote to tell me that he or she had been working at NACA and, among other things he or she found objectionable, was the compensation structure… or, the commission plan would be a better way to phrase that.


Here’s what my reader, who shall remain anonymous, had to say after working as a NACA “Home Save Counselor” for almost a year…


The pay structure at NACA is unbelievable.  They start you off at $12.00 and hour until you finish your training.  You’re told that within four months you should have built your pipeline.  Most of that pipeline consists of files transferred from those who have left the company’s employ.  


After training ends, your hourly pay drops to $8.00 an hour and becomes a draw against future commissions, the thinking being that by this time you should be closing loans – YEAH RIGHT.  The commissions could be anywhere from $750 to $1,000 – depending on the target (credit).


If you are licensed you get the 100% commission – if you’re not licensed you get only 80%, with the other 20% going to the mortgage consultant that pulls the bank application.  I could never figure out what happens to the percentage that I would think would be given to the mortgage consultant that qualified the member initially.  


The turnover rate is very high.  And they don’t appear to care who leaves or stays – they profit either way.  You can’t imagine how many mortgage consultants leave the company and never get that 80%.    


And you have to re-pay what they call, “The Draw.”  There are countless employees that owe NACA thousands of dollars, and are constantly fighting to receive their commissions.


Now, to begin with, I checked the NACA website and found they recruit for open positions right there.  Here’s what it lists as desired experience, just in case you’re interested in becoming a NACA “Home Save Counselor.”



a.      Counseling

b.      Call Center

c.      Loss Mitigation

d.      Strong computer skills.

e.      Community Involvement

f.       Financial Services

g.      Mortgage brokerage, origination, processing and/or counseling is preferred.


Well, I was glad to see that they, at least, did include “counseling” on the list.  But, I can’t help but wonder how many people out there have a resume that looks like this:


“Mortgage brokers” who have worked for “financial services” companies…

Who have “loan origination” experience, having worked in a “call center”

With strong desktop underwriting… no, that’s not right… I meant, “strong computer skills,” and know what the term “loss mitigation” means…


Who are also “counselors involved in their communities?”


I only ask because I’ve known quite a few people in my 50 years on this planet, and I’ve personally never even heard of a… “Computer literate involved community counseling mortgage broker with telemarketing and loan originating experience in the financial services industry,” have you?


Do they even make those?


“Hello, Central Casting?  Yes, I’m looking for someone to play the part of a “Computer literate involved, community counseling mortgage broker with… CLICK.  Hello?  Hello?”  Huh, we must have gotten cut off… don’t you just hate AT&T?


Come on… I was born at night, but not last night.  Once you put “mortgage broker” on that list, you’re looking for a mortgage broker, right?  You know any mortgage brokers with diverse skill sets that you’d consider “many and varied?”


Why don’t they just say they’re looking for a mortgage broker to work on commission and sell people on applying for loan modifications?  They should let me write their ad on Craig’s List, I’d have the phone ringing off the hook.


Here’s what else it says on NACA’s website about working there…


“NACA staff have a passion for and commitment to community advocacy and the delivery of excellent services to working people.


The Home Save Counselor works directly with at-risk homeowners across the United States by providing comprehensive phone counseling. The Home Save process requires homeowners to complete information and submit documents through NACA’s website.  The homeowner can obtain comprehensive counseling either face-to-face in a NACA office or by phone through the counseling center. 


The Home Save Counselor should have experience with counseling, calculating income, budget preparation and traditional loss mitigation workouts. While NACA’s Home Save solutions are not the same as traditional workouts offered by lenders/servicers, we need those individuals skilled in traditional workouts so we may teach the Home Save process.

Home Save Counselors work from the Counseling Center and will be counseling homeowners over the phone. The Counseling Center is operating from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.  Employees work on two shifts.  NACA, at its discretion, may change the shift hours.  All Counselors may be required to work longer hours or additional days to accomplish the work.  Some staff are provided the opportunity to participate in NACA’s Save-the-Dream events which occur throughout the country.”


Well, the long hours are no problem… they’re working on commission right?  Commissioned sales people never mind working late as long as they’ve got “Ups” or “Leads” to “close on a loan mod deal,” after all they’ve got to cover their “nut” and “pay back their draw”.… is that about right for how I should be phrasing that?


It’s funny too because a few months ago my wife and I bought my daughter a new car for her birthday, and we both have such fond memories of the “Vehicle Attainment Counselor” we worked with at the VW dealership.  Actually, by the time we left in our new car, he had also helped save our marriage and made me understand my inner feminine child… oh, shut up, shut up, shut up!


He was a car salesman, which was fine by us as we were looking to purchase a car.  And I couldn’t pick him out of a line up today if there were prize money involved.  I can, however, describe the car we bought… it’s a Jetta TDI, black and tan leather… sunroof… gorgeous.


“Counselors,” is that what we’re calling them now?  How stupid do they think we are?  I don’t have a stockbroker, I’ve got a “Monetary Separation Counselor,” is that the deal?


Look… I have wanted to like NACA ever since I started reading about how Bruce Marks was delivering old furniture to the front lawns of bank CEOs… he seemed like a guy after my own heart for a while.  But all I ever hear from homeowners is that they went to a NACA Revival Show, and either nothing happened, or something bad did.  It’s never a positive experience… never.


And now maybe I’ve discovered why… commissioned mortgage brokers masquerading as “counselors from the community,” making up to a grand for selling loan mods.  You know, I’ve been wondering where all the mortgage brokers who used to sell loan mods went ever since the FTC’s and AG’s task forces started shutting them down a few years back, and the MARS rule pretty much put anyone out of business all over the country, if they weren’t already.


So, now I know… they’re at NACA… of course… why didn’t I think if that.  I should have realized that they’d all end up as “counselors” at a nonprofit housing counseling agency largely funded by HUD or other tax dollars of mine.  That is a truly lovely thought… now if you’ll excuse me I’m feeling some projectile vomiting coming on.


By the way, it’s not as if I’m the only one who feels this way about NACA… check this out…


Cleveland, Ohio — Homeowners should beware of an out-of-town housing assistance group that claims to help people get better mortgage terms, local foreclosure prevention groups say.


The groups — Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, Community Housing Solutions and the Cleveland Housing Network — issued a statement Wednesday against an event planned in late June, saying the sponsor jilted homeowners last time it came to town.


The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, in Boston, has scheduled an event June 28-July 2 at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium. The organization held a similar event in June 2009 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center.


“NACA claims to have the best homeownership and foreclosure prevention program in the nation,” the local group’s statement said. “But that is no consolation to the hundreds of homeowners who were jilted by the organization the last time they came to Cleveland.”


Bruce Marks, NACA’s founder and chief executive officer, said the local groups were threatened because his organization has serviced 650,000 clients nationwide.


“It is just petty organizational jealousy,” he said. “It should be about the homeowners.”


Yes, Bruce it should be about the homeowners, but you’re not exactly the one to be on that particular soap box, are you?


Can’t you just see an ex-mortgage broker telling some homeowner that they’ll get a principal reduction and all sorts of other garbage because he needs the commish to make his Benz payment on Friday?  Close that loan mod, close that loan mod… good Lord.


Lou Tisler, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services, said NACA staff assured many Northeast Ohio homeowners in 2009 that they would get mortgage modifications to keep them in their homes. Often, the “guarantee” didn’t materialize, and the homeowners ended up at the local agencies, he said. By then, months often had passed, making it more difficult to prevent homeowners from going into foreclosure, Tisler said.


“I have nothing against Bruce Marks,” Tisler said. “I have something against an organization coming in and building up expectations for people and then leaving town not making people whole.”


Yeah, I understand that sentiment… actually, no I don’t.  See NACA is Bruce Marks.  He set this thing up… made it too big to be competent, and now it’s causing homeowner harm and setting them up to be closed like they’re attending a time share presentation.

Oh, and there have been 19 complaints filed since 2007, as far as the Ohio Attorney General’s Office knows, and that includes the complaints relating to telephone solicitations and foreclosure counseling. Gee… so what does that tell us?  Maybe it’s that fewer people complain when they aren’t paying anything for the service they didn’t receive?  You think that could be it?


“Nineteen is a very, very small percentage given the number of people we’ve helped,” is how Bruce Marks responded, and he should try that argument out here with the State Bar or BBB.  I know firms with fewer than 19 complaints over the last four years, and thousands of satisfied clients… and they have a D- with the BBB.


No matter anyway… the complaints did not result in any action against the group, and why would they?  NACA’s a nonprofit with Home Save Counselors.  Now, if they were just a traveling circus of a high-pressure sale show hawking loans and loan mods, well, that would be another matter, right?


Oh, shut the front door.


People, I don’t know what to tell you about whether you should go to NACA or not… but if it were me and I was going to check it out… I’d keep my wallet in my front pocket so it doesn’t get picked, and I’d be every bit as suspicious as when talking to any other kind of commissioned salesperson.


For the record, I tried sending a couple guys to one of the events once, but the NACA goons spotted them looking like they might be cognizant of their surroundings and they threw them out.  It would seem that Mr. Marks doesn’t think his show is ready for prime time.


Too bad.  I wouldn’t mind slamming a few seniors into some crummy mods in order to pick up a quick Ten Gs for this weekend.  Come on, Bruce… I’d make one heck of a “counselor.”  (Wink, wink.)


Mandelman out.

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