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Life Arts    H3'ed 9/7/10

David Petrovich, Working to Keep Homeowners In Their Homes

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My guest today is David Petrovich, Executive Director of the Society For Preservation of Continued Homeownership [SPOCH]. Welcome to OpEdNews, David. Please tell our readers what SPOCH is and how it works.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to tell you and your readers about SPOCH. The real story, however, is about misinformation parroted by the fawning corporate media about how "lenders don't want to foreclose - they want to help!" which is total crap.

SPOCH is a non profit, tax exempt organization founded 12 years ago to provide at-risk (of foreclosure) homeowners a resource to learn the unvarnished truth about the foreclosure process,including foreclosure time frames, options and (non) foreclosure alternatives, and client-specific information so homeowners who experience emotional and financial hardship are able to make informed decisions .. not short sighted, knee-jerk, reactions. We are also able to assist homeowners (on a case-by-case basis) with specific hands-on help acting as a liaison between borrower, lender, and other third party stakeholders. Our Board of Advisors includes a CPA, a couple of MBAs, real estate and financial professionals, and an attorney who was an FDIC regulator. We work from a small office in New Jersey, but SPOCH's out-reach extends to 48 states.

Right up front, I think its important for you to know SPOCH is independent and doesn't accept funding or compensation from the loan servicing industry or any government sponsored agency. We rely on occasional, small, tax-deductible contributions, dedicated royalties, and fund-raising activities. Without an "employer/employee relationship" which is shared directly or indirectly by MOST counseling organizations dependent upon government or industry funding, SPOCH can fully advocate for its clients. We don't have to worry about loss of funding from "the hand which feeds us" simply because we recommend challenging the lending industry for its predatory practices including the circumvention of Truth In Lending laws, and running roughshod over consumers' rights in its pursuit of unconscionable profits. But I'll get back to that.

The majority of borrowers at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure are truly unaware of what lead to the current mortgage crises, including but not limited to the financial industry's deregulation, its unconscionable profits, the shortcuts taken by the profiteers, and how the government and its agencies are protecting bed-partner Wall Street's interests while facilitating financial terrorism on Main Street.

I'm glad to hear that SPOCH doesn't accept funding from the industry. That certainly strengthens your independence. Before we jump further into the foreclosure mess, please tell our readers a little about your background, David. You worked in the real estate field for many years before starting SPOCH, didn't you? How did that experience help you do what you're doing now?

Sure, but please call me Dave. My mother calls me David, in a tone that sets me on edge.

My folks, who were schoolteachers, had a part-time, general contracting business while I was growing up. Each year they selected a single, uniquely desirable, residential building lot. They would then design and cause a house to be built upon that lot during the summer, and try to sell it before school began in September. I spent my summers working with and learning from the various tradesmen all aspects of the process... including site acquisition and finance,cost-estimating, construction loans, purchasing materials, subcontracting, project management, etc.

I mixed concrete, laid block, learned framing, roofing and siding, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, flooring and painting. I learned about code inspectors. Years later, after a particularly bad experience with an abusive building code inspector, I studied and sat for the state subcode officials exam. Though I never used my license, I vowed never again would I let an overreaching subcode official take advantage of my ignorance, and willingness to comply.

By the time I was in college studying psychology and finance, I was spending more and more time working than in school. I dropped from full-time to part-time to no-time, but began what seemed a lifetime of evening classes. I took the real estate exam in 1985 and tried to sell houses at a time interest rates for an FHA or VA loan exceeded 22%. I had a great real estate mentor who taught me to identify motivated sellers, which included those who were forced to relocate due to job change, those mired in divorce, families settling estates, and those who faced mortgage foreclosure.

I write about many of those career shaping moments in my recent book, Fight Foreclosure: How to Cope with a mortgage you can't pay, Negotiate with your lender, and Save your home (Wiley & Sons). 25 years ago, my father-in-law faced mortgage foreclosure. I was watching a train wreck in slow motion, powerless to stop it.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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