People ask me all the time, “Where are we going to be next year?” To answer the question properly requires the knowledge of whom the we is. A classic case-in-point: Many people presuppose that Management and Leadership are one in the same. The reality is that Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.
Innovation is the mother of necessity. If you look at the Mortgage Field Services Industry today, we are lacking in both Management and Leadership. Ten years ago the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) was a pivotal force in the establishment of baselines. Today, NAMFS has become complacent; this is not to say NAMFS is beyond salvage, this is to say that NAMFS simply has become disengaged from the Mortgage Field Services Industry and beholden to the token fiduciary relationships with what I consider questionable partners.
Two things are going to happen. First, as I predicted at the beginning of last year, there is going to be consolidation. Now, the Membership of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services laughed at me. I predicted the sale of Lender Processing Services (LPS) and it came to pass. I predicated the assimilation of the Super Regionals — Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS), Asset Management Specialists (AMS) and Field Asset Services (FAS) — and thus they have.
I predicted LONG BEFORE the Mortgage Field Services Industry admitted that there would be a constriction in Work Orders. We are there. I further predicted that Dodd – Frank would have everyone in a state of paranoia because the Industry, by in large, has been ran quasi legally for years. Lo and behold, here we are.
I further predicated that the heirs apparent to the Dynasty would begin to fall like chess pieces in amateur hour based upon their sloven greed; their borderline financial solvency would be forced upon the shoulders of Contractors. Hmnn, yeah we are there as well. On that point, not a SINGLE LAWYER HAS CHALLENGED THE VERACITY OF THAT because they know if the Books are subpoenaed they will paint a far worse picture than even I have exposed.
Now that I have established the baseline; now that the #Oracle has begun to type, here is a snapshot of my Crystal Ball for 2014. The exodus will continue from within the NAMFS. That is a given based upon the inability of its Leadership to embark upon a Cleaning of the House; more on point, NAMFS does not have the ability to do much of anything other than listen to Safeguard Properties whom it is rumored to have recently threatened to cut off the massive infusion of capital should NAMFS not continue to tow the Party Line.
Technology is King in 2014. As we all know, MCS just sent out marching orders to have all photos Geo Tagged by March, 2014. Here’s the deal, though, Geo Tagging is jack shit. Just because you are able to move photos a couple of hours earlier via Smartphone doesn’t mean anything. Further, when you look at amateur products like Pruvan it is meaningless. Let me get real blunt here about the Palmers over in Round Rock, Android Apps are script kiddie games. I code them in my sleep for spare change. BlackBerry aside as it cannot be used in the field, iPhone (Apple iOS) is the ONLY QUALIFIED platform in which the US Government approves for transmitting encrypted data. Period and that only recently.
Two reasons why Pruvan is so 17 minutes ago: First, they almost broke the back financially of FAS. Granted, a Contractor is able to take out a $20 +/- plan per line. Second, all they stream are photos and then in a questionable format in my opinion as I have drilled down pretty damn close to their Source Code.
To capitalize in a real time environment, the Industry requires the movement of both photos and forms in a real time setting. Instead of the 9+ hour Initial Service, we are talking about REAL TIME TRANSMISSION. The problem, though, is the same as with NAMFS. NAMFS is terrified of admitting it has a problem; it quivers about the fact that if it does not purge the bad apples and change, it will become meaningless.
Unless the Industry begins to incorporate Open Source Technology; the same technology I have coded upon since my hacking days, the Industry will never be able to not only realize a healthy margin, it will never have innovation.
You are going to see a new trend in Q1 of 2014. Outfits like SEAS LLC is simply ahead of the curve in their opening dialogue with Contractors. Like it or not, I predicted that we are going to see a consolidation coupled with the injection of W2 Status. The reality is that the Mortgage Field Services Industry is a BUSINESS. The Craigslist Crackheads; the floating ma and pa businesses whom still rely upon Craigslist for their orders and are unable to learn Economics 101 are destined to flow into the Inspection and Maintenance portions of the Industry.
I’ve never minced words; I simply do not have the luxury of time. The Regionals whom will prevail are predominately the East Coast Regionals. Oh, Midwest Metro will still have a bone or two; Midwest Metro’s problem is that they never diversified. Take their website, for example. Hyphenation in a Web 3.0 era? Odd, as Susan DuPont struck me as savvy coming from a journalism background — trends are what writers generally watch.
Outfits like US Best Repairs, Sentinel and other West Coast venues are going to begin to see financial death spirals. Why? The reality is that they are not able to continue to take the Safeguard Properties larger requirements such as the 10 Page PCR like forms for free and continue to kick more percentages back to Ohio. The further reality, out on the Left Coast, is that the volumes are simply stagnant and declining.
I am predicting outfits like Lender Processing Services (LPS), SEAS LLC and others will combine silently to corner the Market on Contracts. Their selling point will be a Seasoned Work Force with the ability to transmit data in Real Time. You see, when you couple Real Time Information with LPS’ new Database, you have the ability to make wise decisions at the sales on the Courthouse Steps — and other more arcane items which I will not delve into as it would tip my hand.
The Silver Bullet, though, is going to be the incorporation of the ID Card at a QR Level. Now, QR Technology is nothing new. Masahiro Hara launched it in the 1960’s with only one helper. Today, what I predict, is that the QR Code on an ID will allow the Portfolio Holders to know precisely 5 aspects they need to become legitimate under Dodd – Frank.
- The Identity of the Contractor
- The Most Recent Background Check
- The Total Time On Site — Remember that pesky Service Contract Act thing?
- The Certification — Whether that be from say NAARPI or simply the General Contractor License
- The Embedding Of QR Data On The Photos — This is novel and I have pioneered it in the EXiF state.
Make no mistake whatsoever, while the kids on the playground were out tattle tailing and finding lawyers to pick a fight with me, other far more wise adults realized that I had a crystal ball. The reality is that I actually love cutting grass; clean outs are great because I really am a poor redneck. Folks like me, though, have an uncanny ability to determine trends based upon information. Am I better as an analyst or a landscaper? The jury is out on that one; as an analyst I make more money. 😉
I have no ill will towards NAMFS. While their Members still attempt to threaten and intimidate me with freshman attorneys I am forging ahead into the Policy World. I think if NAMFS would simply prune the tree and loosen up a bit they might find that Contractors are worth more than simply pawns in a money grab. You see, if Labor and Management talk, everyone makes money. I always thought that was what Capitalism was about.
In closing, the reality is that in a constricted market, those whom succeed must think outside the box. A fresh set of eyes as a gentlemen put it whom I am conversing with recently is the prescription. So, as we all begin to close out the books on a horrible year of downsizing and revelations perhaps now is the time to begin to plan your options for the New Year.