Amidst the soaring towers of unaffordable rents and the ever-growing specter of eviction, a hidden workforce navigates the desolate ruins of the American dream: foreclosure inspectors. Their job is a grim ritual, a dance with despair played out amongst vacant rooms and broken promises. For a meager $7 per inspection, these 1099 contractors, the ghosts of a forgotten middle class, bear witness to the human cost of economic inequality. One trade association, the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS), is proud to pay only $7. In fact, many NAMFS members confide privately that if people are desperate enough — or in some circles if they are illegal aliens — they will work for the poverty rate. One person even told me, After all, the US government subsidizes these folks with food stamps. It is a sign of the times.
In 2023 Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD all raised their pricing for inspections to $30 for an exterior inspection and $45 for an interior inspection. In fact, while National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) members pay only $35 for a grass cut, Freddie Mac pays $525. To date, not a single penny of these price hikes have made it beyond the Prime Vendors, all of whom are NAMFS members.
Half of all rentals now stand on the precipice of unaffordability, their thresholds choked by the weeds of stagnant wages and skyrocketing prices. Food, energy, transportation — every lifeline — seems to be inflating, squeezing the breath out of ordinary lives. In this suffocating landscape, the foreclosure inspector is a grim messenger, delivering the final eviction notice in person, face to face with the evicted, or documenting the end days at the asset for the family. And NAMFS members could care less as they pocket the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD price increases without a single penny going to Labor.
With no safety net of insurance or benefits, these invisible workers shoulder the economic burdens of a broken system. No paid sick leave, no unemployment protection, just the harsh reality of feast or famine – $7 for a completed inspection, nothing for an empty stomach or a doctor’s visit. For thirty years, their wages have remained stagnant, a cruel echo of the wage stagnation plaguing America’s working class.
Their reports, sterile documents filled with technical jargon, become tombstones for shattered dreams. Each inspection a fresh wound, each vacant home a monument to the crushing weight of unaffordability. They are the silent chroniclers of a hidden epidemic, their work a grim testament to the human cost of unchecked greed and unchecked inflation.
Yet, amongst the shadows, amidst the despair, flickers of humanity remain. Foreclosure Inspectors, often themselves teetering on the edge of financial ruin, offer a kind word, a shoulder to cry on. They become, in their own quiet way, the last bastions of human connection in a system designed to dehumanize and operated by NAMFS members. Their story is a stark reminder of the human cost of the failed NAMFS economic policy. It is a call to action, a demand for a reset, for a system that values its people over its profits. We must remember, as we stroll past glittering skyscrapers and gleaming storefronts, that in the shadows, behind empty walls, lie the stories of foreclosure inspectors — and the millions they represent, struggling to breathe in an America that seems to have forgotten them.
Let their silent struggle be a clarion call. Let us, as an Industry, finally address the crippling burden of unaffordability and slave labor wages of $7 per inspection. Let us value the invisible workers, the forgotten voices, and build an Industry where the dream of a living wage is not a cruel mockery, but a birthright within reach of all. Join with us today and join the International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST), the last line in the sand against NAMFS.