Doing the right thing… it’s not really that hard (soapbox warning)

In my line of business I see all kinds of “interesting” behavior on the part of individuals “practicing”, people who have the same obligation to operate ethically, within the same regulations and with the same fiduciary responsibility that I do. Yet routinely I see actions and modus operandi (MO for you cop show fans) that not only seem counter to those obligations but clearly put their own interests ahead of the principal client.

Case in point – I am working with an individual whose home is in foreclosure. He had a work place accident that put him on limited work capability and his reduced income along with his workers comp claim income are no longer enough to pay the mortgage. He is also caring for his elderly and mentally compromised mother in the home the she and her late husband bought and raised this person in. He desperately wants to keep the home.

Thanks to the preying of some unscrupulous people that may not be possible. His first mistake was trusting an attorney that advertises by mail with an official looking document that says they can not only stop the foreclosure but can get his loan forgiven and this is common. I have news, IT’S NOT COMMON! However this individual was in dire straights and has a natural belief that people are good. Fast forward 6 months, a $7000 retainer and $1250 per month and the result is zero. The attorney sued the lender using bogus grounds and the case was dismissed…wait it gets better. Not only was the case fatally decimated by the demurrers filed by the attorneys for the lender but the case was dismissed by his own attorneys when they couldn’t bill his debit card because it had expired and the new one hadn’t been provided to the attorney yet. There are email communications that are just plain shameful from my perspective and I’m not an attorney but I’ve been around enough to know. As a result his home remains in foreclosure.

In steps the next victim chaser. A real estate agent that preys on people that get foreclosure notices. He locks them into a contractual obligation regarding the rights to sell the property with a period of 2 to 3 years (a traditional term for a listing in our current market would be 3 to 6 months), has them sign documents that indicate he will be working on a loan modification and then goes dark, there is little to no communication. Eventually the lender that is foreclosing will make it necessary for the owner to sell rather than lose whatever equity they have and because this agent didn’t do anything to stop it, will get to sell the house and make half of a total of 6% commission on the sale. His language in the contract makes it clear he will not allow the contract between him and the seller to be cancelled therefore trapping the seller in a no win scenario.

I know it”s taken a while to get here but in both of the examples above for the same client good work could have been done that not only earned the professional service provider a fair income for their effort but also been honest, ethical and responsible from a fiduciary perspective.

There are plenty of cliches regarding good people, bad people and how good and evil compete but come on. Is it really that hard to do the right thing?

I am not a Utopian, and I have no rose colored view that if I just believe it, people will be good. No, I know better because I see it everyday. Why is it that I feel the need to treat people honestly and with respect. If I can run my business and earn my living that way, so can others. And the world should demand it from them.


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