I was reflecting back yesterday on the latest article we did on the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS). You know, we had reached out several months ago to NAMFS and virtually begged them to establish some kind of Grievance Committee to oversee Contractor Complaints against their Membership. We were turned down. They seem to want absolutely no Contractor interaction! Now, we learn that NAMFS is back at it again with the Certifications (they have been plodding along with them since 2010). We couldn’t get a breakdown from IRS on the amounts paid, to date, for the Certifications. I think, though and more on point, it would be a legitimate inquiry to be able to track those whom are certified and cross compare the Properties they have serviced! It boggles the mind how they are able to use a motto on its Statement on its IRS Form 990:
The National Association of Mortgage Field Services, Inc. was established to encourage sound and ethical business practices in the mortgage field service industry.
I am perplexed, I suppose, when I look at the daily deterioration of this Industry caused, in part, by NAMFS Members whom hired felons as Order Mills whom refuse to pay Contractors for services rendered. In fact, the situation has become so obfuscated that Craig Karnes, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Procurement Officer (that’s the man whom signs the Contracts between HUD and the Prime Vendors to perform work on HUD REO Properties) recently stated to a handicapped woman whom was defrauded by an Order Mill hired by NAMFS Members,
I did not receive a separate indication from HUD OIG, on whether a formal investigation would be initiated, based on multiple contacts that I made personally. However, I’ve received notice from at least one external source that went to the HUD OIG 1-800 number that an investigation would not be initiated by HUD OIG, because no direct attempt was made to defraud the Government. In their opinion, any attempt to defraud subcontractor(s) or their employees should be referred to Department of Labor, local authorities, or filed as a civil suit. Unfortunately, I have no investigative authority beyond the terms of the contract(s) with HUD’s Prime FSM contractors. I have put the FSM Primes on notice regarding their contractual responsibilities and the allegations against PPMS. However, as long as the Primes are performing the services required of them, I have no contractual authority to intervene in any disputes with subcontractors. I certainly sympathize with your frustration and apologize that I cannot be more helpful.
So, here we have the vicious circle with no end in sight. This is the tale of See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Do No Evil. The US Government, in the same way that Financial Institutions have done for decades, hide behind a wall of insulation padded with the bodies of the Contractors to absorb the blow.
Now, I read on PR Web about how NAMFS is continuing its quest for “…gold standard in the mortgage field service industry…” in Certification and Training! Here, let me lay it out for you,
The NAMFS Academy will be releasing an updated and expanded training and certification program in early 2013. The enhanced program will include five modules covering all aspects of the mortgage field service industry including Inspections, Pre-Sale Preservation, Post-Sale (REO) Preservation, Recurring Services and General Industry Basics. It will also include multiple training strategies including the written manual, slideshow presentations and training videos.
So, the very same Association which seems to care less whether or not its Members are being accused of horrendous acts is now going to train us not only in the complexities of field service work and Inspections, but the are going to Certify us as well! Two points I want to get into here; two very crucial points we need to pay attention to!
First, you have to be a NAMFS Member. Now, it strikes me as odd that NAMFS, in its infinite magnanimity, would require anywhere from a minimum of three hundred dollars to ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS to become a member to take a test that supposedly is the Industry Standard! Does this mean that non NAMFS members are incompetent? Is the implication that Contractors are bestowed with some kind of unique attributes upon becoming a NAMFS Member so as to receive the Certification in a sterling manner? I don’t know. Eric Miller or Deana Alfredo would be best suited to inquire along these lines.
Now, it appears that after you pony the money up to join NAMFS you then get to feed the trough some more for the price of multiple Certifications! How many and what the pricing is we ignorant masses (Contractors and non NAMFS Members) are not allowed to know! True transparency there; you really have to love this kind of mentality. I want to dwell a bit here: We have a private and non transparent Association whose Board of Directors are comprised of a Who’s Who in the Industry spinning up Certifications with reference to Industry Standards. Now, I have a few questions:
Are there ANY requirements for General Contractor’s or Trade Licensing? I ask as we ALL know that it is illegal to winterize in some states without a Master Plumber License. How about Mold? Does NAMFS Certify with respect to non licensed individuals with respect to these deadly microorganisms? Roofing repairs; any old Craigslist Crackhead can get certified to repair roofs? How about electrical back feeding of a home? Yeah, that’s what I thought!
Let’s get into the more pertinent and legal issues though. The term Home Inspection requires a State License. Black’s Law Dictionary and most State Attorney Generals concur that if you are not licensed as a Home Inspector you cannot legally perform home inspections! Period. Let’s not bullshit around. You want to talk liability?! That simple term alone is currently being looked into by more than one law firm in Florida!
Now, how about the proctoring of the coursework and testing thereof? First, as this is a pretty serious business, what kind of field testing is done? Surely to G-d we are not issuing Certificates to folks based upon a Q & A Session on the Internet?! Hell, even the Guild requires peer testing and review! Just our of curiosity is there any requirement that Certifications may only be bestowed upon LEGAL US CITIZENS?! Finally, what metrics are being used to verify the conformity of both the learning and testing materials to municipal, county, state and federal laws?!
I believe that the more that the US Government, learned Counsels, concerned homeowners and the media dig into this self Certification process we are going to unearth a veritable bottomless pit of problems. No matter how laudable the goals are of ANYONE you cannot allow an Industry to both regulate and self certify itself. THAT IS WHY WE HAVE BUILDING CODE! THAT IS WHY THERE ARE LICENSED AND CREDENTIALED CODE INSPECTORS!
In my humble opinion, this is putting the fox in charge of the hen house. The intent may be to create a safe working environment and standardized system; however, the design is piss poor at best. Make no mistake, though, this is not the first of its kind. Safeguard Properties partnered with a firm awhile back for testing as have half a dozen other outfits on the Internet. As there are no legal requirements, to date, to reign in the scope of this “Certification” process I fear the ultimate looser will be the Consumer.
Upon conclusion I find that this new era of Certifications to be nothing more than window dressing to attempt to give legitimacy to an unregulated Industry. If scrutinized, I believe NAMFS’ Counsel as other Firms’ Counsel will find that it opens up liability whose scope is impossible to comprehend. As always I am open to receiving and reporting upon tangible metrics proffered by NAMFS. Should they like to provide a Statement for the Record, I will gladly include it as a follow up.