One of the first acronyms I learned within days, practically within hours of entering the Blogging arena was SEO. Search Engine Optimization was said (or rather typed) with a respect bordering upon reverence. Having your presence in the Internet being noticed and noted by Google, Yahoo et al was considered the be-all and end-all of everything. Well, today I learned why that may not be such a good thing...
I got a phone call from a very nice lady in another state who had found me on the Internet when she did a search looking for help with a Short Sale. As we talked and she laid her story before me I felt worse and worse for her. She is in what my mom used to call a "Mell of a Hess", two different properties in two different states and both are in jeopardy. They are rapidly depleting their retirement account to keep up with the mortgages and are going under with lightening speed.
To add additional pathos to the party, she told me that she had spoken with a "Loss Mitigation Negotiator" who told her that his company would be able to almost guarantee that they could help her with both properties, at no cost to her (unless the bank did not approve the deal which "almost never happens"). He also told her that she would have to sign "a couple of pieces of paper" to have them get started helping her right away, a Release to Convey Information and a Limited Power of Attorney. He is not a Real Estate Agent, but he would refer her to one (whose license is due to expire at the end of September by the way) to handle the sale.
I told her I understood about the Release to Convey as anyone will need that in order to negotiate on her behalf, and in fact I had told her when I was explaining generally how the Short Sale process works, that this would be one of the documents among many that she would need to fill out. But, I asked her, why do they need Power of Attorney?
She read me the letter that they sent her which said that although the document is not mandatory, not signing it would significantly delay her transaction and that they needed it so that they could "sign things for her to keep the deal moving smoothly". I asked her if she had a computer, a printer and access to either a fax machine, a scanner or a Kinkos. Yes, she has all of the above, she said. "Then why do you need someone else to have that level of authority? There is nothing that could come up in a typical Short Sale that requires almost instantaneous response.
Well, she said that the man she spoke with was very nice (shocking, huh?) and that one of the things that attracted her to them was that they advertised that they could prevent Foreclosure and protect her credit. Yes, I told her, I am sure he is a nice guy, and what they are saying is technically true (and the same thing that any Realtor who accomplishes a Short Sale does as well), a Short Sale, if successfully completed does prevent Foreclosure and "protects" her credit in that the Foreclosure would be a huge black mark and the Short Sale would only be a really dark grey one.
She needs help and I can't help her and yet Google told her I was the best person for the job. And it hurts me that I can't. I got into this business to make money, yes, but even more important to me than that, I got into it to help people. That really matters to me more than the money ever could.
I have spent the better part of the afternoon trying to track down some folks who work in the areas her homes are in (near Tucson AZ and Leesburg VA) who are experienced Short Sale specialists. If any of you are, are know someone who is, please send me their contact info ASAP.
So, I have decided that SEO ain't all its cracked up to be. Sure it helps raise you head and shoulders above the crowd, and most of the time that is a wonderful thing. But, sometimes it can put you (or at least part of you, the feeling, human part) in harms way.
Take care all, help lots of people and have a wonderful day!