Love in the Time of Foreclosure

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Targeting troubled homeowners or Spam in the Time of Foreclosure

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Stephanie Walker

Stephanie Walker is a blogger/playwright who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.

I tend to get a lot of housing crisis spam at my loveinthetimeofforeclosure@gmail.com address. Though I don't usually read the messages, today one made it's way to my inbox that I just had to share with all of you.

Here's the message:

Subject: Troubled Properties

Hi, quick question. Would you find it valuable information to know, within a few days, which homeowners have missed a mortgage payment? With credit bureau data, you can be the first to contact homeowners and lenders, long before anyone else knows that a property is distressed. 


Our data is acquired through a soft inquiry on credit reports and is exclusive to one client per zip code. By targeting homeowners that are 30, 60 or 90 days behind on their mortgage, you can eliminate your competition and have months to resolve foreclosure situations. This data is not a NOD list that is public knowledge available to anyone that seeks it. 


If you'd like to get a jump start and contact troubled homeowners at the first indication of hardship, please reply back and I'll send a one-pager with more information. Or, for a more personalized consultation and free count, please call me at 607-759-5058. Thanks.


Warm Regards,

XXX XXXXXX

First of all, this is clearly spam as there is nothing personal in the message. This person has clearly never read Love in the Time of Foreclosure or they wouldn't assume that I would "find it valuable information to know, within a few days, which homeowners have missed a mortgage payment."

Why would I want to know that? Why would anyone want to know that? Well, someone must, I suppose. So this guy sells lists of names, phone numbers and addresses of people who have missed mortgage payments? That's what it seems. But how crazy.

I had to know more. So, I did a little research. Turns out that this person's company is all about marketing to homeowners that are in pre-foreclosure. And they do actually sell their information (including phone numbers) to Real Estate Agents (!!!) so that they can "get a leg up on their competition."

That means that you could be a homeowner who has missed one or two mortgage payments and you could get a phone call from a Realtor who knows that you've missed your payments. Yep. Not your lender, but a Realtor who wants to help you by selling your home in a short sale.

Wouldn't that freak you out?! Getting a phone call from a Realtor (a stranger) who knows you've missed a couple of payments??? It would me! I imagine the call would go something like this:

REALTOR: Hi, Mrs. Walker. How are you today?

HOMEOWNER: Fine. Is this a sales call?

REALTOR: I understand you've fallen behind in your mortgage payments.

HOMEOWNER: Excuse me?! Who is this?!

REALTOR: I'm a Realtor and I can help you avoid foreclosure.

HOMEOWNER: What?!

REALTOR: I know this must be a really hard time for you--

HOMEOWNER: Don't call here again.

REALTOR: You don't want end up in foreclosure.

HOMEOWNER: I'm hanging up now.

Does this disgust anyone else as much as it does me?

I'm just floored by this. I would link to this company's site but I don't want to send any business their way.

One of the managing partners of the company also has a blog all about marketing to homeowners in pre-foreclosure including tips on telemarketing to troubled homeowners (as if troubled homeowners don't already get way too many telemarketers calling) and "gaining the trust of troubled homeowners."

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

By targeting you, we're helping you

The blog claims that by targeting people in pre-foreclosure Realtors can actually make a difference for homeowners who are distressed. And maybe it's all coming from an altruistic place (though I highly doubt it), but having been a distressed homeowner I can tell you right now that I would never respond to a cold call from a Realtor who had paid for inside information about my financial distress. Would you?

I mean, is this even possible? I know not all Realtors out there have as much integrity as my mom, but are there really Realtors who would stoop to this level? I guess, perhaps. If this company exists, there must be an audience.

It just reminds me of how we felt when we were going through this. The spam and scams all claiming to "help distressed homeowners" made us sick. We felt bombarded and like it was impossible to find any unbiased advice. This is not the way to help troubled homeowners... by selling their information. It's just disgusting. Or is it just me?

Thoughts?

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1 Comment

Pam Weinert said:

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Yes, Steph, there is lots of information out there about people who have missed payments.The number of payments missed collectively by American homeowners right now is staggering.Even after one missed payment you are considered in pre-foreclosure.While I hate the idea of these companies, I do believe in letting people know there is help out there.It's really a fine line between helping and being intrusive.Cold calling would never work for me, but think if you're a homeowner who has no idea what to do and their most pro-active movement is to bury their heads in the sheets.When they finally wake up their house is gone. So, buying a list from a company would never work for me, but, maybe some homeowner will be helped by someone using these tactics
Pam, The real estate Mom....

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