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Displacing Blame PDF Print E-mail
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When I got to the office this morning, my brother (and partner in the family business) told me to go to Yahoo and watch this video. I did, and thus starts another lovely day in the mortgage business.

The video shows an interview with Michael De La Santos (spelling?) who is mislabeled as a former mortgage broker. Actually, he is a former loan officer who worked for a broker or lender. That is a big distinction, especially in Virginia where Michael worked because Virginia doesn't require loan officers to be licensed (at this time).

But I digress, his license, and that factual inaccuracy by ABC News is not the point of this commentary. The point is to call out a one-time opportunist for what he is... still an opportunist.

I made my living in the subprime mortgage business. I did not, and do not take advantage of borrowers. I did not and will not close a loan for someone if I don't believe they have the ability to repay. I did not and will not offer a loan to a customer that I wouldn't offer one of my family members, or myself. That is how a good mortgage broker does business, subprime< or otherwise.

But apparently not Mr. De La Santos. Michael was an opportunist. He tells you with wide eyes and a slight smile about putting people in loans he knew they could not afford, about offering higher interest rates without regard to better programs for the borrower, and lying on applications to make a quick close. Michael says he felt guilty about such practices, but the lender and his boss encouraged him to do it. Michael made his quick bucks and kept his mouth shut while putting his commission checks in the bank.

Why has Mr. De La Santos now seem the error of his ways and finally found a conscious? The fact that the mortgage business has gone bust and he probably isn't making the money he used to might be one factor. Its easy to call attention to your past transgressions now that there is no profit in it anymore. Of course it wasn't Michael's fault... the lender's made him do it.

Now, this generous soul, having ended his evil ways, is volunteering his time at the Center for Responsible Lending. It sure is easier to volunteer and change your tune now that you can't make money sinning any more, isn't it Michael?

Now instead of taking advantage of helpless borrowers, Michael appears to be taking advantage of the current economic crisis... getting publicity by calling out his past employer, lender and co-conspirators while still not taking much personal responsibility. Now Michael is ceasing the opportunity to get some more limelight and is taking advantage of the mortgage brokers out there... many who didn't do business the way Michael did. But you wouldn't know that from the video.

Michael (in order to make himself feel better?) and ABC News (ratings?) seem to think that all mortgage brokers do business the same way Michael did. And it is the mortgage brokers who created this mess and are responsible for the sky falling on home lending and an ever increasing foreclosure rate.

Now that he has cleared his conscious, I wonder what is next for Michael De La Santos? Is this the beginning of his negotiations for a book deal??

Most brokers/loan officers are good people who do good service for their customers. Most subprime brokers/loan officers work with their customers to put them in a better financial situation. Have I closed 2/28 adjustable mortgage for borrowers with the idea of refinancing them again. YES, I have, and the idea was to get them the lowest possible payment now to make their expenses and mortgage affordable. BUT, every time I have offered them advice on how to improve their credit and financial position so when they come back to me or another mortgage broker in 18 months to 2 years, they can refinance into a better, fixed-rate program and never have to worry about it again. My customers always have my phone number and always receive as much attention as needed, both before and after the closing, to help them understand how to improve their credit situation and qualify for a better deal. And most of my customers have been successful doing that. In this business, there is not much greater joy than taking someone from the brink of bankruptcy and helping them reduce their stress level and debt and obtain a low fixed rate mortgage that they can have as long as they own their home. Often there are intermediate steps involved because their short term credit situation is bad. But that is why I am a mortgage professional. I work with people to improve their lives, not just make a quick buck.

Not Michael. He could have taken that approach. But instead he took the easy way out, and now this unscrupulous broker is trying to ease his conscious by painting the rest of us in a negative light. Now he is trying to seize another opportunity, still being dishonest, because the last gig is up.

Once an opportunist, always an opportunist. As for me, I'd rather be a professional.

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