Sun Jun 16 14:20:19 EDT 2024
Home#OpEdThe True Costs of Technology in our Industry

The True Costs of Technology in our Industry

Why Pay Thousands of Dollars a Month for a Glamorous Excel Spreadsheet?

As you may see from the above screenshot, the NAMFS Executive Director, Eric Miller, has been missing — while still being paid — for a long time, now. With the ever increasing costs of technology in our Industry, I have fielded hundreds of  emails not only about the costs of technology issues, but a lack of features. Currently, the technology is nothing different that what one may do with an Excel spreadsheet and macros. And while Verisk is the Industry leader, with HUD itself having penned them in on a meeting last year to watch for antitrust, the only changes there after purchasing Property Preservation Wizard and Pruvan, was a price hike. It goes hand-in-hand with the invisible brick wall that the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) has set up prevents uniformity and competition. On the other hand, Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS), currently only used by several firms in a legacy setting — Guardian Asset Management, MSI,  and Brookstone Management WARNING WEBSITE NOT SECURE primarily — and their failure of their ABC number used for background checks, the reality is there are extreme problems. The statistics are the devil in the details no one wants Labor to look at.

After buying up all property preservation software in the Industry, Verisk is now the only option. And when it comes to inspections only two options are available — InspectorADE and EZInspections. The problem here is that while the actual Clients, such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, and others allow API access, not a single NAMFS Prime Vendor is willing to grant API access to software providers wishing to enter the space.

The idée fixe, for refusing to allow impartial API access in our Industry, is driven from NAMFS members and NAMFS members alone. In fact, in a recent phone call with Fannie Mae, a few questions were asked as they pertained to security and that was it. However, when that same question was posed to a Prime Vendor utilizing Aspen Grove the answer was a point blank, “It will never happen.” Part of the locking down of API access is from an antitrust point-of-view in order to ensure that only NAMFS members have access. And part is because most of the actual companies generating work orders have no idea how technology works. So, what is an API? Glad you asked!

According to the Slashdata Developer Economics Survey 19th edition, nearly 90% of developers are using APIs in some capacity. For the purposes of our Industry, though, it is as simple as blank fields are pulled from say Aspen Grove and displayed somewhere — generally on a smartphone or desktop — to be pushed immediately back with populated results. For example, static pulls would be the address of a property, notes to perform the services, and otherwise. Pushes would be things like is the asset occupied, photos, and the latitude and longitude of the data points recorded.

The arguments by Cyprexx, Five Brothers, Guardian Asset Management, MCS, ServiceLink and ZVN Properties, amongst others, that some kind of nefarious access could be had or these are top secret things is as hollow as their protection of the antitrust setting in our Industry, today. Fact of the matter is data scraping does the very same thing if say any of the aforementioned actually send out a work order. In fact, National Field Network never had an API in the past and the portable document format of the work order had to be scrapped.

This article is about software and the untenable price hikes going on today.

The dirty little secret no one wants you to know is that technology — real technology outside of this Industry — is virtually free. And when you combine that fact with simply a basic understanding of artificial intelligence — e.g.; if you can write a sentence you can run AI — then the outrageous fees charged are nothing more than complicity with antitrust violations orchestrated by NAMFS members.

Some years ago, I met with a multinational team in order to bring a Day of Code in order to see whether or not any of the software then was truly unique in any way. Additionally, as Asset Management Solutions (AMS) was winding down — I literally sat in their offices and watched the fire sale to Mortgage Contracting Solutions —  I was curious about the then and now issues with compressing video literally to the size of a 640 x 480 photo. Much of the background is located here. During that Day of Code we went through a checklist of everything folks wanted including the ability to outlay changes in real time while pulling and pushing photos and data. We started around 930am at the Ramada Inn up by the now Guardian Asset Management headquarters. We had completed everything, including the wishlists, by about 2pm and adjourned to the bar to laugh at the Industry.

Writing about this Industry has always simply been a humanitarian exhibition. How I stayed afloat was with coding and consulting. The recent inability of our Industry to keep up with technology is demonstrated with the shutting down of MCS on an almost weekly basis to install upgrades is a great example as they have not mastered mirroring — a Computer Science 101 task. It is further demonstrated by the chokehold that both AGS and Black Knight have when it comes to the API’s needed to integrate with origination software. The former is far more heinous than the latter as they are not only foreign nationals, but their backend ShieldHub has become more of a ubiquitous bazaar of everyone’s information sold to the highest bidder. In fact, unless a firm has a pay-to-play scenario with Wells Fargo, no one uses AGS or ShieldHub anymore. Don’t believe me? Give ServiceLink a call and ask if the ABC Number is required by them. Moreover, though, they are not paying you for your data!

Some years ago a legal question was asked by Sentinel Field Services about the right of contractors to sell their photos and non personally identifiable information (PII) pertaining to their work upon assets. It was kicked as high as their founder Brian Huggard as well as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD. We were advised that it was stated this was legal. After all, the Prime Vendors do it all of the time.

It ain’t about the money, I made my own laneit is about Labor. Why should it not be? And why should Labor not be able to resell their work? If you want to classify boots on the ground as employees, then, I get it. But you cannot have your cake and eat it too. See how that worked out for the French! The price hikes are not working for the Vichy French over at NAMFS right now and when taken, in conjunction with the NAMFS price hikes from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD — earmarked for Labor by the way — with zero price hikes for Labor, the reality is we are anticipating yet another one thousand inspectors to leave in the first quarter alone. Think about that. According to NAMFS, they forced a 70% rate of loss when it comes to Labor in a report located here. Since then, we have lost roughly another four thousand contractors. Soon, even getting work done — other than in metro areas with city transit — will be impossible.

With NAMFS membership now under 100 members; with the NAMFS Executive Director Eric Miller not having made a social media post since November of 2023; and with NAMFS now completely dependant upon the National Association of Default Professionals (NADP), the reality is the time is now to make a change.

They said the International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST) could never form. We did. They said that the IAFST would never get our nonprofit status as a trade association. We did. They said that the IAFST could never bring a technological product forward — which mastered both video and its compression far better than any other firm out there AND with AI — we did. To that final point, our software is FAR less expensive than anything available out there today. After all, why should Labor pay to simply perform work? If you are ready to get off Dramabook and make money, the IAFST may be an option for you.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
Off Grid Linux Junkie and Always a Friend of Labor!


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