June 20: The non-mortgage issue on voter expectations, news bias, showing homes, and entrepreneurship

Greetings on the Summer Solstice, made possible by the earth tilting as we circle the sun. (We in the Northern Hemisphere are currently tilted toward the sun, by the way.) This has been the case for billions of years, even before I got into this business, and will be the case long after things like RESPA or the CFPB cease to exist. Freddie and Fannie may actually be out of conservatorship by then. Lenders and vendors touch, and are impacted by, other things besides loan processing, rates and market share. We continue to help individual’s lives, and society in general, homes continue to be shown, news seen and heard, and, despite the presidential election being nearly five months away, be impacted by political policies and procedures.

Saturday Company Spotlight

This week we sat down with Steven Rimmer, the CEO of DocProbe, to focus on growth, employee mentoring in a work from home environment, entrepreneurship, and charity work.

Describe your company, when was it founded and why, what it does, recent growth, and plans for near-term future growth. “DocProbe was founded in 2010, when a lender approached our affiliate, Madison CRES, looking for a solution to alleviate the headaches of its in-house Trailing Docs department. The lender’s challenge was dealing with an inefficient process that was pulling away essential revenue-driving employees from focusing on closing loans. The workforce was also unstable during market fluctuations, all resulting in incurred penalties due to late deliveries to investors.

“DocProbe, through a platform of people, process, and technology revolutionized Post-Closing Final Docs, with dozens of lenders from across the nation now relying on DocProbe to deliver their Trailing Docs to their investors corrected and on-time. The effects of COVID have forced lenders to revamp their operation, and DocProbe has seen a surge in lenders moving over to our outsourcing solution.”

Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why. “DocProbe, together with Madison, regularly hosts educational courses around the country giving enterprising individuals the tools to enter the lending and real estate industry. We have been encouraging employees to become trainers and mentors to the hundreds who have taken our classes over the years.

“We also directly lead and support an in-house initiative to provide the means to educate over 20,000 youths, and we encourage employees to provide their own ideas, as well. The company will often put resources behind these employee initiatives, creating additional motivation for them to get involved in personal charitable activities.”

What does your company do to help elevate your employees’ growth? Describe any mentoring programs, outside classes or training, in-house training. How does the company help people develop? “We understand the value of continued education, and regularly bring in Internal and outside experts to give training to employees to expand their knowledge base, and keep everybody up to date on the latest information in the industries.

“Interestingly, you asked about mentoring because we have actually also adopted an in-house mentoring program to give one-on-one attention to employees on their own level. These mentors go into the various offices across the country and give educational and emotional support as needed.”

Tell us how your company maintains its culture in the office, or in a work-from-home environment if applicable. “Because DocProbe relies on numerous departments to do the work needed to build the efficient process that lenders rely on, it’s so critical for us to create a family feeling and a connection to the mission. To achieve this, we are proactive in bringing these departments and employees together as often as possible. Constant stand-up meetings and regularly scheduled town halls go a long way to creating that atmosphere.

“We want employees to appreciate the greater picture. They get a great feeling of accomplishment when they see the fruits of their personal labor played out in the perfected final product. This includes the development and operation teams, as well as the sales reps around the country who appreciate the ability to come in and say thank you to the people in the trenches getting their clients’ work done for them, quietly and efficiently behind the scenes.”

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share along these lines? “The story of DocProbe going from a disruptive startup helping solve lenders’ Trailing Docs headache to growing into a document digitalization trailblazer, is one of entrepreneurial spirit and transformational vision.

“As we continue to grow, we have not lost sight of what got us to this point and value the hard work and passionate involvement of each employee. We look at every lender that joins our platform as a new partner, and treat them with the respect and appreciation that they deserve for putting their trust in us.”

How can people get in touch with you? “A great place to start is at our website to get a real feel for our product and process. They can also reach out to me directly at srimmer@docprobe.net and I’d be happy to answer any questions they have about us and what we do.”

(For more information on having your firm featured, contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.)

The Housing Market: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

From Marin County in Northern California veteran real estate agent Bob Ravasio weighed in on the showing and selling of properties during the time of COVID. “It is more complex, for sure, but is being done. There are still no open houses or brokers open houses. So we don’t get out and see as much in person as we used to. We can, however, view a home with an interested, and qualified buyer, and we have been doing that every week.

“Agents, as always, are adapting. Many listings now have a very good video done of the home, which buyers are required to view before seeing to make sure they like the home. We do it as standard procedure on all of our listings, and if done well, it really helps get a sense of how the home flows, which is critical to a buying decision.

“Before viewing, buyers must sign a PEAD form, or for a Coldwell Banker listing, a COVID 19 Prevention Plan Form. This details everything that must be done prior to, during, and after a showing, including: 1. Showings by appointment only. 2. No hard copies of flyers, promotional material, or disclosure or advisory forms, everything must be done electronically. 3. Sanitizer, wipes, and a disposal bag are supplied in the house. 4. No occupants can be in the home during a showing. 5. Commonly used surfaces are wiped down after each showing. 6. No more than two visitors from the same house and one agent in the house at a time. 7. Six-foot social distancing at all times, and everyone must wear a face covering. 8. Any disposable gloves, booties etc. to be placed in disposal bag upon leaving.

“It requires much more planning now to see a home than it did before, from everyone: buyers, agents, and owners. The situation changes frequently, and we monitor it closely, as we now have two virtual office meeting every week with management to learn about and apply the latest changes.”

Tailor-made news: can you believe money might be involved?

Unlike decades ago, news these days is made to fit the audience. Unfortunately. LO and industry observer Dick Lepre has an opinion. “I used to be a TV cable news junkie but stopped watching news on TV over a dozen years ago. I have two big issues with TV news. The first is that TV news format does not allow taking the time to explain things. This is most easily understood with things about the economy. It uses a format which allows perhaps 20 seconds to explain what is behind the jobs report or the GDP report. The consequence is that a 20 second simple explanation may be completely incorrect when a 60 second explanation is needed. The only TV news with a format which allows enough time for accurate reporting is PBS.

“The larger problem I have is that media and most especially the three cable news networks are not in the business of objective reporting. These are businesses existing to make money. Most of the money they make comes from advertising. Advertising revenue is a function of viewership. These networks, and for that matter most other media outlets, do not attempt to objectively report or analyze news. They slant their reporting to reassure their viewers that their opinions were and still are correct. The proposition has become ‘Tune in this evening and we will reassure you that everything that happened today guarantees that none of your views need changing.’ This reassurance attracts viewers. Reporting to the bias of viewers is the core of their business plans.

“I do not really have a problem with this.  If this is what sells and TV makes money with this business model and provides employment to folks that is fine as long as you don’t believe that what you are seeing is an objective account. I enjoy SpongeBob SquarePants even though I doubt that Bikini Bottom exists.

“Too many people want to watch or read that which reinforces their existing beliefs. This is a form of confirmation bias. One sees this on social media where people post an opinion and say something to the effect of, ‘If you don’t agree with this go ahead and unfriend me.’ That attitude is limiting. How does one learn anything without reading or listening to people who have different opinions? This is not about giving up one’s view and accepting the opposite. It is more a matter of sometimes expanding one’s view to include something you did not think of previously.

“The issue with cable new bias is compounded by the fact that it has become the main source of news for many. Newspaper circulation is falling. This leaves cable news as the main source for national and international news.  It remains to be seen if the internet can provide local news with sites such as Patch.

“This is not about President Trump. Reporting biased to the beliefs of viewers was happening long before Trump but since Trump is so polarizing it is more obvious now. Nor is it about ‘fake news’ if that expression means hoaxes or disinformation. It is more about reporting to the bias of the audience for financial reasons. If that’s what people want, that’s what they will get.

“For me the only reason to watch the news would be to learn something I did not already know. Instead TV news is designed as a reassurance mechanism as a means of obtaining advertising revenue. TV news makes its presentations not only with opinions as much as facts but which an air of ‘there is no discussing this. We are right.’” Thank you, Dick!

A Vote is a Vote, Right?

This month author Miles Parks wrote a piece for NPR on the nine-day delay in counting votes in the Pennsylvania primary earlier this month. “Experts and election officials are already sounding the alarm that voters need to expect the same sort of delay in November’s presidential election. ‘We really need to get into a mindset that we will not know who the winner of the election is on election night,’ said Nathaniel Persily, an election law professor at Stanford University. The biggest reason for the delays is that mail ballots take longer to process than in-person votes. Officials need to verify signatures, open envelopes, and in many states, including Pennsylvania, much of that process can’t begin until the day of the election due to state law.”

“None of that is inherently a problem. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the tabulation or the accuracy of the count. If anything, it’s an indicator that election officials are working through the sort of safeguards that prevent fraud or errors. But problems arise because voters don’t understand that, Persily said. And then these sorts of delays can become fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

“’In some ways, this is the worst year to have a pandemic that affects election administration because we were already worrying about disinformation and loss of confidence. And so now we have the additional challenge to voter confidence that’s posed by the possibility that all kinds of votes are going to be counted after Election Day.’”

This scenario has already played out multiple times in the past two years. When the Iowa caucus app famously malfunctioned in February leading to a delay in results, theories flooded the Internet about whether it was an inside job by one of the campaigns. And in recent general elections, such as in California, Florida and Arizona during the midterms, Republicans, including President Trump, questioned the legitimacy of votes counted after Election Day because they skewed more toward Democrats.

“The reason ballots counted after Election Day often tilt in favor of Democrats is because they are usually being processed in densely populated urban voting jurisdictions, where more Democrats are usually clustered (such as South Florida or Philadelphia). The irony is that the delay in results come from the precautions election officials take to prevent the issues with mail ballots about which Trump often worries openly. One of the reasons that the results take longer is [officials are] being diligent… That’s actually what we should be pushing for as a country. So we should celebrate the fact that we’re actually counting every vote.”

“Many states allow local election officials to begin opening mail ballots before Election Day to prepare them to be scanned, as is allowed in most states that process a large number of mail ballots…. the reason conspiracy theories around results ‘have legs’ is because there’s been a failure by election officials, candidates, and journalists to set voter expectations properly.

“There’s the headlines that say this is a disaster if there’s a delay, and that’s not right. If we all anticipate that accurate vote counts, with a higher volume by mail, or for any reason, for a pandemic or for civil unrest, take longer because it takes longer to make sure the count is accurate, then that’s the opposite of a disaster. That’s what every single voter and official should want for this country.”

Phyllis Diller observed, “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up.”

Visit www.robchrisman.com for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is, “Reducing Friction”, focused on operations changes. If you have the inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what’s going on out there from the other readers.

Rob

(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. This newsletter is designed for sophisticated mortgage professionals only. There are no paid endorsements by me. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2020 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job & product listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold, or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)