The Point of Contact in the Real Estate Business

One of the little perks given to homeowners in distress through the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, apart from restrictions on dual tracking, is the right to a single point of contact, what we refer to as the POC. That acronym stands for Punch on Chin. No, it doesn’t, it means Point of Contact; you just feel like punching them. It’s nothing to really get excited about because the POC is often pretty useless. It is a person assigned by the bank to answer the phone when a customer calls. I don’t know if that person physically works at the bank in person or lives in Canada but by golly, it’s a live person you can talk to each and every time you call, even if that person is worthless and no help to you whatsoever.

There are no provisions in the new law that says the POC needs to be knowledgable or carry any authority. The POC doesn’t process your file; the POC accesses a computer database where supposedly notes are stored to glean information. As a Sacramento short sale agent who has worked with hundreds of bank negotiators over the years, I can tell you that much of the data that is not always entered correctly. But by George, you’ve got a live person on the phone. That’s a remarkable feat.

More than half of the time, the information the POC gives to a customer of the bank is incomplete or incorrect. I know this because my client will call to say the POC told her, for example, that the hardship letter is not in the file. Not only is the hardship letter in the file, but it’s at Fannie Mae for review. Along with all of the other docs such as the bank statements and tax returns the POC also says are missing. That’s because I am talking to the person who is processing the file. I am speaking to the short sale bank negotiator while the seller is talking to a POC — a POC who would dig through her bag to find an unwrapped Tootsie Roll pop and plop the thing in her mouth without washing it off.

I had a bank offer me a credit card a while back that would cost me $100 a year. At first blush, I rejected the idea because I am not that interested in accumulating points or cash-back bonuses as I always pay my bills in full and never carry a balance. However, the icing on the cake offered by the bank was not really the cash-back bonuses. It was the fact that I could talk to a real live person who would answer the phone through a direct phone number. That is now a luxury today! To be able to call a person directly and have said person answer the phone without punching through a menu or sitting on hold or talking to other doofuses.

There is little more frustrating than screaming Operator at a recorded message and hearing the reply: Did you say: Call Back Later?

The personal touch is missing from so much in business today. You can’t talk to anybody anymore. I was looking for a small business to help me over the weekend, and I was searching online. Most of the websites were geared to the company and not an individual. I don’t want to do business with a company. People do business with other people. That’s why my website features me because that’s what people want. My website is more than a search engine for homes in Sacramento. And I answer my phone. If you need a sharp real estate agent in the Sacramento area, you can call Elizabeth Weintraub 916-233-6759, and THAT, I promise, will make you happy.

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