As the US Attorney files his Complaint against the United Auto Workers (UAW), many are wondering whether or not investigations may be in the future of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) and its Board. For nearly half a decade, NAMFS obeyed federal law by transmitting their IRS 990 — the tax return required to be made public by non profit organizations — for public inspection. All of that ended, this year, coming on the heels of the departure of NAMFS’ only paid employee Liz Ziots — other than the NAMFS Executive Director, Eric Miller. And no matter how you want to call it, to say that Miller is not operating with the moral clarity an Executive Director should is an obvious understatement with respect to public inquiries. And Miller has an extremely overreaching reason for not complying with the IRS and federal law. Miler is paid over One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Dollars per year. That annual salary nearly eclipses EIGHTY PERCENT of all NAMFS member dues combined.
For years, NAMFS as an Association and NAMFS members themselves, have been embroiled in scandal after scandal ranging the gambit from illicit insurance scams created by then NAMFS member InsuranceTek; the collapse of multiple firms — whom never filed bankruptcy and simply didn’t pay — such as Buczek Enterprises and Berghorst Enterprises, the latter owned by a NAMFS Board Member; and the historic Involuntary Bankruptcy of National Field Network which is owned by Jack Jaffa, the brother of Safeguard Properties’ CEO Alan Jaffa.
Years of decline in the distressed asset inventory have taken their toll upon the NAMFS membership rolls. Prolific litigation, much settled and some by jury awards totaling millions of dollars, abound with respect to NAMFS members illegally misclassifying employees as contractors. And in many cases, it has forced their sale to competitors. Intra-Industry, Mortgage Contracting Services recently bought out M&M Mortgage. And hedge funds have stepped in buying up firms only to realize the blue skying of valuations. New Residential, controlled by Fortress and heavily backstopped by SoftBank of Japan, recently bought out Altisource, Chronos Solutions, and Guardian Asset Management in one fell swoop. Hudson Homes, controlled by Lone Star Fund owner John Grayken, just purchased Northsight Management. Even software giant Property Preservation Wizard (PPW) was purchased in a very quiet deal by Xactware. Those consolidations and shuttering of doors, has created an enormous deficit in the NAMFS coffers. This, in combination with the dwindling sponsorships at the NAMFS Annual Conferences — to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars unfunded — have many wondering if Miller’s salary is even justified, let alone sustainable.
NAMFS Executive Director Miller has racked up an inordinate amount of frequent flier miles over the past several years. The junkets and jet setting, in combination with thousands of dollars per year in raises early on, have only led to a financially insecure Association. In fact, Miller has been the defacto shot caller leading the charge on — wait for it — absolutely nothing other than a quasi legal background check platform which works about as well as the Magic 8 Ball. Those background checks are nothing more than a money grab as they allow the same information to be used in multiple locations at the same time by different people.
By many estimates, those background checks equate to nearly $10 million per year in exorbitant fees when we look at $60+ per person and 100,000 contractors which Sterling Backcheck estimated by their last published count. Interestingly, no management participate in the background checks even with many having multiple bankruptcies, tax liens, and criminal records — See generally: Carol Boyd, Heather Berghorst, and Shari Nott. Unfunded mandates abound when it comes to the continual downward pressure upon Labor. The innocent men and women whom make up the Boots on the Ground now find themselves indemnifying NAMFS Fat Cats from litigation regardless of whether or not they played any role. Pricing has continued to plummet while the cost of providing services has skyrocketed. And simply attempting to get paid by NAMFS members ranks as the top priority of Labor today.
Morale is low. And the Mortgage Field Services Industry has been hemorrhaging qualified Field Service Technicians at about the same rate in which rain falls during a monsoon. Even Foreclosurepedia has had to begin backing off many of the services we used to offer free of charge. And it is going to, as predicted by Foreclosurepedia nearly 20 months ago, become far worse. The avant-garde of hedge funds whom have attempted to swarm into the distressed asset space chose to subscribe to the mantra that good and cheap operate in the same sentence. And their beliefs have been blue skied by their purchases of firms whom equate TWENTY PERCENT minimum of valuation to line item chargebacks.
Cozy relationships among the NAMFS Board and its Membership may have led them to tolerate questionable behavior by one another. One thing which is certain is since December, 2013, the NAMFS Executive Director has been well aware of the issues. In fact, Miller attempted to sue Foreclosurepedia, early on, over supporting Labor’s right to have their voices heard. It failed miserably. In addition, Heather Berghorst, former NAMFS Board Member and NAMFS Secretary, attempted the same type of reprehensible behavior when it came to Foreclosurepedia’s exposure of her second bankruptcy and failure to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Labor.
The revolving door of management, from one collapsed firm to another, has cast a very dark light upon the Industry. On many occasions, a firm will go dark on Friday with many of their management working at a new firm Monday. The ability to cast off debt owed to Labor and be rewarded with a new position is disturbing.
Questions abound with respect to the extremely close operations between foreign national Sean Ryan, owner of Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS), and NAMFS. Historically, AGS provided all of the software services to NAMFS for web services. Their proprietary number continues, to this day, to be the only one accepted by most NAMFS members. Building upon that, the very same investigation — which AGS outsources to First Advantage — is marketed for as low as $7, historically, with the State of Arizona’s General Contractor background check. A side note to the AGS background check system is firms such as ServiceLink and others are now refusing to accept their results and have opted to begin operating their own background check system. A real world example dealt with one contractor being authorized for Conceal and Carry in 32 states, but could not cut grass on a vacant home.
So, what will 2020 have in store for NAMFS and Eric Miller? If I was a gambling man, at minimum, NAMFS will have to slash Miller’s salary. And even with that NAMFS very well may not make it through 2020.
2020 will be a year of complete turmoil. We stand by our prediction of a housing crash visible by the third quarter and fomenting behind the scenes by early in the second quarter. We believe that an institutional varnish will continue flooding into the Industry. And while that varnish may look glossy and cute, there is an extreme danger underlying that which the hedge funds are hocking.
In closing, we are hopeful that those of you whom have benefited from and continue to benefit by reading Foreclosurepedia will assist with our year end campaign to fund 2020. Simply click the Donate Now button below and help Foreclosurepedia continue helping people like we did only yesterday with respect to Inspectors being fleeced from the State of Arizona.