As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, June 2009.
I missed the most recent housing boom because of a four-year prison sentence.
In 2002, I was convicted of fraud in the sale of securities, which were mortgages. One problem — the loans were based on overvalued homes, overstated borrower income, straw buyers and incestuous transactions. I made good money stealing from others. Ultimately, however, I paid the price.
Today I'm a different person. I believe I'm fighting for the people. I'm often asked why I chose to return to the business that nearly destroyed me. The answer is simple: I want to help.
The mortgage industry is more confusing now than ever. So many people can be saved from foreclosure and aren't. I believe I'm taking my knowledge of the system and putting it to good use.
As a workout-and-turnaround consultant, I process loan-workout requests on behalf of homeowners, small and medium businesses, their attorneys, and other financial professionals. Often, I can get my clients loan modifications that reduce their rate, extend their loan term and substantially lower their monthly payment. In some cases, the modification even reduces their principal.
The time spent on each troubled borrower is worth it. It's a great feeling to know that my staff and I contribute to society and help keep people in their homes. Knowing that I've helped a family protect its home and avoid the threat of foreclosure and even homelessness provides me with a sense of giving back. After taking so much from those to whom I once sold fraudulent paper, this is the least I could do.
My company is far from the only one helping borrowers, and there are nonprofit and government efforts also attempting to solve this widespread problem. Regardless of where mortgage brokers turn for loan-workout advice, make sure you hold the entity with which you work accountable for the services it purports to provide and determine if the fee charged is reasonable.
It's also important to realize that not everyone qualifies for a loan modification. Those who have abused the banking system in the past or who were predatory borrowers will not and should not get any breaks. When faced with these types of situations, it's wise to structure a plan to try to allow the client to exit the property responsibly through a short sale or through a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
When dealing with loan modifications, it's important to customize each modification to an individual borrower's needs. Modifications should account for borrowers' actual monthly budgets and strive to stem the tide of default recidivism.
As an industry, we must take the foreclosure crisis personally. Brokers can and should do whatever they can to help. As an ex-convict, I can tell you that fraud isn't something to play around with.
I also know that giving back to people feels a whole lot better than taking advantage of them.
Michael Sichenzia is CEO of Dynamic Consulting Enterprises LLC, a loss-mitigation consulting company based in southern Florida. E-mail email@example.com or call (954) 596-0337.