IAFST: It’s Not Just Labor Interested Anymore

Is The Industry Ready For #IAFST Or Does Fear Prevail?

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Labor Initiatives

#IAFST The International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST) hosted a Summit, over the weekend, which many reported as being a good, first step upon the long road of Trade Association organization. Representatives from nearly $39 Million worth of firms were in attendance with footprints covering all 50 of the United States and its territories. The convergence was seen, by many, as a repudiation of the status quo which both Management and Labor have been experiencing in the Mortgage Field Services Industry for nearly a quarter century. Moreover, though, some large, government representatives have agreed to attend the IAFST Summer Summit, tentatively scheduled for June, 2017. In fact, the  has voiced their interest in attending. Craig Karnes, Director, Atlanta Office – Southern Field Contracting Operations, Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has agreed to consider speaking upon HUD orientated issues. The US Small Business Administration has, as well, tentatively agreed to speak.

Over the past several months, Foreclosurepedia has spoken with IAFST representatives in order to gauge the legitimacy of IAFST. One of the first benchmarks we looked at was the IT infrastructure. The IAFST has put into play a fairly sophisticated software platform known as CiviCRM. The manual, alone, took me several weeks to digest and I am a technical writer, by trade. Originally billed as a constituency relationship management (CRM) platform, CiviCRM is, by far, one of the most mature and robust open source platforms I have experienced. CiviCRM is described as,

… [being] a web-based, open source, internationalized suite of computer software for constituency relationship management, that falls under the broad rubric of customer relationship management. It is specifically designed for the needs of non-profit, non-governmental, and advocacy groups, and serves as an association management system. CiviCRM is designed to manage information about an organization’s donors, members, event registrants, subscribers, grant application seekers and funders, and case contacts. Volunteers, activists, voters as well as more general sorts of business contacts such as employees, clients, or vendors can be managed using CiviCRM.

The novel concept about how the IAFST is onboarding and interacting with their Membership is the holistic approach they are taking with respect to advocacy. From the beginning, IAFST personnel are looking at the individual and company and creating a Service Jacket which identifies outstanding issues such as lack of DUNS, SAM Account, SBA Status, Website and Branded Email, and other important, upstream information. If this were all that IAFST were marketing, though, it would be unremarkable. It is not.

IAFST is betting big on education and certification by and through their IAFST University.

The IAFST University is quite an impressive, mobile responsive set up. Similar to the IAFST Website, itself, IAFST University is heavily leveraging tried and true open source technology platforms which prestigious universities such as MIT, Harvard, and the Sorbonne are using. In fact, edX, founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012; an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere, uses the same technology as IAFST University.

Closing out the trifecta of technology which IAFST has laid out, is the IAFST Forum. While still in beta stage, the IAFST Forum allows for open and closed discussions on a wide array of material impacting the Mortgage Field Services Industry. Most unique, though, is their leveraging of the Google Firebase engines. In layman’s terms, Google Firebase removes the need for archaic scripting which has a tendency to bog down servers at the drop of a pin. Moreover, though, the Google Firebase powers an extremely robust instant chat feature which I thought was pretty cool, as well!

So, you might ask, “What’s under the hood?” I am glad you asked that question. I spent several months speaking in tandem and independently with IAFST Board Members and many within its Rank and File, in an attempt to figure out where the Price Added Benefit was lurking. One of the first things mentioned to me, by Management, was the ability to have a centralized point-of-access, to obtain personnel. They built upon that by stating,

Look, if you are studying any of the recent lawsuits you are seeing a pattern of so and so was liable for not having training and education in place with third party certifications. We all know what this means. On the one hand we cannot legally train contractors and yet, on the other hand, we are supposed to find a pool of already trained and certified labor? IAFST provides the ability for us to tap into certified talent and is probably about 10 years overdue.

Labor spoke similarly, but to another issue which has been at the forefront of attrition, over the past several years now,

If I have a problem, I am not left out in the cold. Working with Management who are a part of the Association means that I’m not going to lose my shirt. I have someone going to bat for me if I need them. It’s been pretty good, though. I haven’t had any problems and the pricing I can work with!

I asked the IAFST Board what some of the crucial issues were that they felt merited discussion. Clear boarding came up. Apparently, IAFST is rolling out a white paper on the requirements and specifications. The legitimacy of forcing free bidding and onboarding of third party, licensed parties also came up. Recent trends by National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) companies to, say, have a vendor hire a roofer, document everything, follow up, and assume all risk and liability, free-of-charge, appears to be an issue which any Trade Association would normally tackle.

It is almost as if there are two classes of Trade Association Members out there. First, there are those whom are deeply entrenched; they are part of a dangerous and misguided hierarchy and will do anything to protect their interests and the interests of their Masters. These are what I would commonly refer to as National Order Mills. Some of these people are NAMFS Members and some are not. Then, there are those whom will protect their relationships with those National Order Mills at any cost. The problem with this mentality is that allows for a the continuation of perpetual and illicit violations of state and federal laws. Ironically, to protect both of these classes, Compliance continues to be heaped upon both Labor and Management whom are caught in a perpetual treadmill of loss.

The pervasive mentality that simply because Wells Fargo, or any other Client, sends an enormous spreadsheet to National Field Representatives (NFR) as we reported upon, or any other firm, there can be no objecting to these chargebacks. Moreover, due process and equal protection under law are violated by the refusal to produce documents ordering the chargebacks as Hank Cossingham clearly demonstrates.

The importance of having an orderly movement of work orders in and out of the Mortgage Field Services Industry is, undoubtedly, of great importance. The importance of having a voice both within the legislative process and contracting, at-large, is, as well, equally important. The cost of doing nothing far exceeds the status quo we are part of today. Over the next several days, we are going to schedule an Exclusive Foreclosurepedia Podcast with the IAFST. In full disclosure, Foreclosurepedia is not a Member of IAFST. As a Friend of Labor, Foreclosurepedia simply discusses the IAFST, for better or worse, and allows the Foreclosurepedia Nation to decide for itself.

The quid quo pro, which currently exists between the financial institutions and National Order Mills, is unprecedented. If you listen to many, even at the Regional levels, what used to be requests are now pushed down as demands — do this or we will fire you. There has never been a more important time in the history of this Industry to become involved than now. When we look simply at the fact that National Order Mills are demanding that third party service providers are located, managed and paid and that those whom do this do not receive a single dime and assume all liability, this should stand as a single reason to say something is broken. And to remind everyone, for any pre-conveyance, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) property which is managed by National Order Mills, they are paid every penny of HUD Allowables. That means while they are paid $50 per cubic yard for debris removal, the Industry average is now under $19. Curious what National Order Mills are being paid now? We were, too. Here is the current HUD – FHA pricing matrix,

The Department of Housing and Urban Development doubled to $5,000 the amount of funds it will reimburse servicers for fixing up properties that will be assigned to the Department, as part of a broader effort to consolidate and update preservation and protection (P&P) guidelines.

The changes announced in Mortgagee Letter 2016-02 took effect on February 1 and supersede previous guidance published in Mortgagee Letter 2010-08.

ML 16-02 does the following:

  • Increases the Maximum Property Preservation Allowance and adds, clarifies, and increases other line items;
  • Emphasizes FHA’s current conveyance condition standards;
  • Reminds mortgagees of FHA’s inspection requirements; and
  • Details claims calculation and documentation requirements for property P&P actions.

HECM servicers will eventually be able to upload P&P packages through HERMIT, but the online system is still being updated.

The obscene levels of profit are incredulous. For nearly two years now, there is not a single company whom has stated HUD is cutting their pricing. The reason that they cannot is that this is what is known as pass through expenses. The bank passes through, dollar for dollar, those prices. And the Order Mills in between, while not exactly lying, never state what they are actually paying. There has never been a closer example of employer – employee relationships which are currently the focus of massive federal litigation ongoing in the Vinson v MCS, AMS matter in the US District Court for the Central District of California. Just ask Nikki Bigenho, whom works with MCS Compliance.

Tomorrow, we are going to talk about how the IAFST finances itself. As many have seen, with respect to the NAMFS financial insolvency brought on by Eric Miller’s $122K salary, we wanted to make sure this wasn’t a NAMFS 2.0 Redux. Miller, the NAMFS Executive Director, has a salary which consumes over SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT of all NAMFS Member dues. Salaries are something we were concerned about and also the long term, fiscal plans of IAFST to avoid the NAMFS pitfalls.

The genie is out of the bottle, for want of better words. Stay with Foreclosurepedia for more on this fast breaking story and always a Friend of Labor, we will keep you informed with the news and information you need!

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