Third Party Services – Door Knockers

Third Party Services – Door Knockers

 

I would like to talk to you about Third-Party Services today.  Third-Party Services are those businesses that you hire to do some work for you. Examples of these third-party services would be bankruptcy attorneys, foreclosure attorneys, title companies, field services, Real Estate agents, credit bureaus, and even your loan servicer to name a few of the more common ones we deal with in the note and real estate business.

I am sure that many of you have hired third-party services either directly or through your loan servicer.

In this episode I would like to focus on the Door Knocker.   Either you or your servicer will often times hire a field services company to provide a “Door Knocker” or “Field Visit” as it is often called.  These companies also provide additional services such as occupancy inspection (drive by), property preservation or property valuations.

The Field Services company hires people, like you and me, to go out and knock on someone’s door and deliver documents, a letter and even facilitate a “Hot transfer” of the phone so that you can speak with the person you are trying to reach.   In addition, they often take photographs, check with the neighbors to verify occupancy and note if anyone is living in the property, and who is living in the property.

The field agent is usually requested to obtain a minimum of three or four photos from the firm; however you can  request more.   The typical photos are street view, front view, address verification and proof that the letter is taped to the door.  These are the normal photographs for a property not located in a gated community or condominium.  Realize that if the property is a condominium or gated community, the agent is limited on the photographs that can be obtained and will usually consist of the street view, front of the building, or gated entrance and address verification if visible to the outside.

If a request was made for the field agent to visit the property at a specific time and call a specific phone number to reach you, they will do their best to accommodate you on your request.  However, if you are not available to take the call or the borrower is not home, that is not their fault.   Most firms will make at least two attempts to reach the borrower, but again, if the borrower is not home or you do not answer your phone, the agent is not able to do much more than leave a sealed letter taped to the door. . The field agents will usually only leave a company provided generic letter. The best practice is not to put any confidential information in these letter or make the letter sound like a threat. Put yourself in the borrower shoes, will you be happy to find any correspondence with confidential information taped to your door or for that matter a threatening letter? Remember you can achieve a lot more by being professional and courteous than being nasty. As they say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Moreover, keep in mind that these people are risking their lives by going up to a stranger’s home and knocking on the door to inquire about a debt that they may owe or tell them that their lender wants to speak with them.  They have no idea what awaits them at the door or when they drive onto the property. You want to make sure that the field agent is able to do their job unharmed.

If you are not happy with the service, the firm will try to make it right with you and try to correct the problem if it was their fault, such as the person went to the wrong address or didn’t get the right photographs on the report.  However, if the agent performed the required functions; took the photographs, attempted to reach the borrower and left the letter taped to the door, then the company deserves to get paid.  They have to pay the agent to go out to the property after they have fulfilled their end of the bargain.  Now it is your time to pay the company.  If you refuse to pay, they will most likely write off the loss and next time they speak with some of their colleagues in the business, might mention you or your company as someone who doesn’t pay their bills and you will have burned another bridge.

It is not the agent or the company’s fault if the borrower is not home, you do not answer your phone, the property is in a gated community and the agent cannot gain access or the unit is a condominium and the photos you get are of the building.  They are providing you a service and they deserve to get paid for completing the task.

If your CPA did your tax return and you didn’t like numbers because you have to pay more taxes than the year before, is that the CPA’s fault?  No.  You either, hopefully, had more income, had less deductions, the tax code was changed and you are in a higher bracket, you moved to a new state or some other reason.  Would you refuse to pay your CPA because you don’t like the numbers with the data and information you provided?

Think about that the next time you hire someone to do work for you.  Make sure there are clear expectations on your part and what service they are going to provide you.  If they fulfill their end of the contract, they deserve to get paid.  Don’t be a jerk. Treat people and companies like you would like to be treated. And of course, they have the same remedy as you when someone owes you money.  They can sue you in court and obtain a judgment against you personally and/or your business.

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