Welcome to The Ghetto.

You hear stories about people who were raised in the ghetto, barely making it. Then they worked hard and left the ghetto behind. This experience of scraping by, living hungrily from one paycheck to the next while living as a lowly serf takes a toll. But, it also shapes those who get out and go on to prosper through the use of their gifts (or elbow grease). It teaches one what is really important in life. It gives a healthy frame of reference, a view of what the bottom is like so that when life on a higher level is offered it will be accepted joyously. No sense of entitlement just thank yous to God.

I was not raised in the ghetto as a kid, but I’m there now — in the REO world.

My teeth were cut on work orders (papercuts? ouch) received directly from the mortgage lender. There was no middle man involved, just me and the bank. Bank of America. Wells Fargo. Indymac. Etc. I didn’t realize then how phenomenal the fees attached to these assignments were at the time. And, my contractors loved me. They were so loyal, so ambitious, so thorough. They thrived on the work they received from me even if it didn’t come on a consistent basis.

Then, I broke away from busting my butt to make lots of money for someone else and started Integrity REO Solutions. Slowly, I began to hear contractors share horror stories about making dismal fees through this or that client but regardless of how low the fees were they still needed the work. I thought you poor unenlightened ones, you just don’t know. You don’t know how or where to go to get the best fees out there. And, I have been able to earn a place with some clients over time who pay the great fees.

But sitting here now, I dribble tears on my keyboard at the thought of what I see in the REO industry as a whole. The greed of great gain has settled in like a cloud on everyone. People are building REO empires as they cut and paste mission statements from the book of Exodus, particularly lines from the story where Pharaoh made the slaves fashion bricks without straw. What a punk he was — breaking them with menial labor and then making it nearly impossible for them to accomplish simple tasks.

If you are an REO contractor, does that sound familiar?

I am always in a search for more clients so we can continue on a steady track, even while others begin to slow in certain seasons. The more clients I am researching, the more I find those who are paying pennies for the work to be done. I know how much the banks pay because I came from that arena. I have also read the FHA guidelines. Then, why am I still being asked to board a garage door for $55? I was just told by a rep at one of the 3 largest REO outsourcing companies yesterday that there were just some items I wouldn’t make money on. Really? You’re ok with that? Would you accept work where you were being paid only enough to purchase materials? That’s called a favor.

This is the REO Ghetto. You scrape to get by, waiting for 45 days to get paid. Tough, tough conditions. Apparently, this is where I am. But, I know this is the right place to be for now. All I’m doing is building up my piggy bank fund. And, even when I am fully stocked with banks and real estate firms who pay an honest amount, I still won’t let the sucky paying ones go. I’ll balance myself between menial labor and consulting.

Being in the REO Ghetto is really shaping me as a CEO. It helps me to see the hearts of contractors and why they are so frustrated. Grown men mowing lawns for $20.00. It gets them down. It also shows me what it looks like in the bottom. That way I will say thank you on the way to the top.

If you are getting into the industry and you’re in the ghetto, don’t try to grow too fast. Do your time in the ghetto for a while. Build up your funds. Learn well enough what it is like at the foot of the hill to be grateful during your ascent.


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