Foreclosures Skyrocket

'We Buy Houses' SignI’d wondered to what to attribute the “We Buy Houses” signs all around the county, planted illegally in the right of way. (The sign at right was planted by DMT Properties, one of dozens that literally litter the landscape.) They’re a scam, of course, but Commonwealth Attorney Jim Camblos has apparently chosen to turn a blind eye. Turns out there’s a reason for the flourishing signs, as Brian McNeill points out: rising adjustable mortgage rates mean that people’s homes are being foreclosed on as they fall behind on their payments. The purpose of the signs is to prey on these desperate souls, offering them false hope at a chance to escape foreclosure.

Foreclosure notes in the paper during the first quarter of this year are up 27% from the same period last year. The Piedmont Housing Alliance says they simply can’t keep up with homeowners seeking help, which has increased by five-fold since this time last year. Subprime lenders have provided mortgages to people who simply can’t afford them, and now the industry is collapsing.

I’m mystified that no local media outlet has done a story about DMT Properties and their ilk. The business is a scam, their method of promotion is unsightly and blatantly illegal, and yet nobody says boo. What gives?

05/29 Update: DMT Properties responds.

36 thoughts on “Foreclosures Skyrocket”

  1. interesting, so let me get this straight. Housing market in this area and others were out of control. The cost of a new house in this area is way overprice. And now we have more foreclosures with people not be able to keep up. Wow, what a shooker!

    My only thing is that this area aside from UVa don’t really have that many jobs that can support these overpriced houses. Well, I guess if you sell real estate.

  2. Many of those who work for UVA, I’d guess a large majority, can’t afford houses ’round these parts.

  3. I agree that some local media attention on the issue would be helpful. An adjustable rate mortgage helped us buy our house, but we later refinanced to a fixed rate because we feared precisely what is happening now. Since we refinanced when interest rates were falling, we ended up with an even lower rate than we’d had on our adjustable rate mortgage. I feel like we dodged a major bullet.

  4. “The purpose of the signs is to prey on these desperate souls, offering them false hope at a chance to escape foreclosure.”

    I have to alternative theories:

    1) An irrational decision on the sale is pretty consistent with the irrational decision to buy, so what makes us think that people in over their heads would make any better decisions sign or no sign?

    2) The purchaser of distresses homes know that there are likely unusual costs to acquire property, given that the owners probably couldn’t afford maintenance or may damage the structure, so they factor this into the deal.

    I sympathize with people facing this problem — it is a real mess — but there is no easy fix for it. You are right that the media should cover this issue, but they need to go beyond the doom & gloom and present some practical advice. I would suggest interviewing local financial planners for a series article or television topic. Financial education seems to me the only way to draw owners of complex mortgages into a rational state of mind about their options.

  5. Jim Duncan’s blog has had some great posts on what has been happening in the subprime market over the past year. I think he was actually writing about it several months before the mainstream media picked up on it (although the search function on his blog makes some of the posts tough to find). This website has tracked the collapse of subprime lenders across the nation as foreclosures increased.

    Fact is most people would realize a greater return on the sale of their distressed property by putting it on the market (yes even in a buyers market) than they would doing business with one of these predators. I’m guessing that most people seeing these signs probably do not know enough about the subject to realize its a scam, or they ignore them like most people do small roadside signs. Me, I pull them up whenever I see them and can safely do so.

  6. I’m guessing that most people seeing these signs probably do not know enough about the subject to realize its a scam, or they ignore them like most people do small roadside signs. Me, I pull them up whenever I see them and can safely do so.

    I’d thought that this was true, too, but I contacted the county and discovered that removing the signs is not legal, or at least quite possibly not. A very nice woman who is in charge of right-of-way enforcement (or maybe it was signage?) explained that pulling up signs could well lead to prosecution and that, while the county appreciates the intention, that the county really has to enforce it. Trouble is, not only is this a huge waste of public funds (we’re all perfectly capable of pulling signs out of the right of way on our own, IMHO), but it’s my understanding that the commonwealth’s attorney has to go after these schlubs, and he ain’t doing it.

    So we’re apparently not allowed to remove these signs. I’d certainly favor a change the law to make that possible.

  7. So we’re apparently not allowed to remove these signs. I’d certainly favor a change the law to make that possible.

    You’ve got to catch me first. That’s what I meant when I wrote: and can safely do so.

  8. Question:

    If you guys go after the “we buy homes” people, why stop there? Shouldn’t we go after those lenders who market 450/month on a 300K mortage? They are everywhere. Heck, if you go on yahoo, you will see that spam.

  9. If you guys go after the “we buy homes” people, why stop there? Shouldn’t we go after those lenders who market 450/month on a 300K mortage? They are everywhere.

    You should read the linked article, especially the three types of foreclosure “rescue” scams at the end of the first page. It’s a straight-up scam, promoted solely through illegal acts. If the lenders that you describe are also running a scam promoted through illegal acts then, yes, of course, they should be stopped.

  10. Okay, now I’ve got a friend who is an economist who thinks I’m basically misguided, nonetheless, here’s my theory:

    Our housing market is National not local. If you think about the percentage of people buying homes here from elsewhere, I think it supports this. What this all means is that we cannot realistically build enough houses to decrease demand. What can happen though is the reverse…

    If we demonstrate that we are “development friendly” then we both get marketed and targeted as a place to build more houses. Ironically, each time we build a new reservoir, school, road, etc. I believe it makes us more desirable to those who’d place more subdivisions here. Also, if a local government has a history of approving every development proposed, then we become targeted as “a great place to live”. Imagine the national demand as a large body of water that takes the route of least resistance. By making ourselves more open to development we simply got more of it without really decreasing the demand.

    If I’m right, then local government made a serious blunder when increasing density in the “growth areas” without decreasing density in the rural areas. In effect, what I think happened is that they increased demand, and caused more development than would have otherwise occurred. Likewise, we’ve put the cart before the horse on infrastructure by making existing local taxpayers responsible, instead of requiring developers to pay their fair share.

    Of course, the other side of this is that what the national market can give, it can also take away. All it takes is some irresponsible lenders giving out interest-only loans to bring down the demand quickly in a way that building more homes locally never did. Even worse, while apparently the national housing market has eaten some bad pork, we are now also remembering how we decided to pile our plate full…

  11. There are also signs littering the roads for a company called 1-800-junk. The idiots who put these signs up have no idea how self-describing the “junk” signs look along the road.

  12. There are also signs littering the roads for a company called 1-800-junk.

    1-800-got-junk was a company that I was neutral towards (neither a good nor a bad impression) until a few weeks ago, when I left a place of business downtown to get in my car, which I’d left in their private parking lot. A sticker promoting that business was affixed to my side window, saying something to the effect of “Hate removing junk like this? Call us to remove the rest of your junk.”

    Now there’s no question in my mind that I’ll never, ever do business with them. In fact, I intend to actively discourage others from doing business with them. What a stupid advertising campaign.

  13. I’m the investor that Waldo talked about. I was contacted today by a Hook reporter who told me about this blog. I sent the reporter this email, and also emailed this to Waldo through his personal website. My email below isn’t a complete response, but hopefully this will help clarify/distinguish me/others from the scam artists discussed in the linked articles. I’m happy to talk to anyone who doesn’t understand how ‘we buy houses’ and would like clarification. -Dominick Montie,, 434-409-9775.

    From my email to the reporter:

    One note on the signs – I’ve put up those street signs over the past year, and about a month ago got a call from a city official saying it was against ordinance, so I’ve stopped. No big deal. If there are any more signs on public property, I have no problem with anyone removing them (the ones I do see I remove myself). At this point, I suspect they’re all gone. I intend to use private property to advertise in the future, but I suspect none of the bloggers would have a problem with this.

    Ok, on to how this works:

    The typical way to buy a house is to go to the bank, get a loan, and give the seller a big check which he uses to pay off his existing mortgage(s) and he keeps the rest. This is the only way most people know of.

    There are other ways:

    1. Pay cash – this is the same as the above, but of course as an investor I can’t pay full market value. I have to buy the houses ‘on sale’. People wait for meat to go on sale at the grocery store, and I try to find houses on sale. Yes, the seller must be sufficiently motivated to sell me his house for less than full market value, but there are reasons for this: house is in really bad shape, he has to move quickly, he’s facing foreclosure, his listing has expired and he just wants to get rid of the house, etc etc. Further, I don’t go to the bank to get a loan – I use private money. This allows me to close quicker than the average buyer, which provides a benefit to the seller in exchange for a reduced purchase price.

    2. Structure financing – seller ‘becomes the bank’ and I make him monthly payments each month. If the seller has an existing mortgage, I pay him and he pays his loan and keeps the difference. Structuring financing allows me to pay more for the house than all-cash, but the seller has to wait on the full amount of his money. My offer is to pay 6% interest, which many sellers who are willing to consider financing find attractive.

    3. Short sales – a short sale is when the bank allows a lower payoff for its loan than the face value. Banks generally agree to this when the seller is many months behind on his payments and is facing foreclosure. Often, the bank would prefer to take a reduced payoff than to foreclose on the house and potentially have it go on their books as an REO (real estate owned) liability which they are then forced to sell themselves.

    There are other ways, but these are common alternatives to the norm.

    I understand the bloggers’ gut responses, calling investors ‘predators’, but this is not correct. A predator (in the jungle) attacks a weaker prey and forcibly kills it. I don’t do this, and I suspect no other ‘we buy houses’ people do this or any other self-respecting business does this. Instead of using force, I offer an option: “Here, Mr. Seller, is my offer. Yes, it’s not ideal for you, but it’s an alternative to either losing your house or not selling it. If you have a better offer, you should take it. I’m not putting a gun to your head, nor will I be upset if you decline my offer. If we can agree, great. If not, fine. I didn’t create your situation, I’m just trying to help you out of it in a way that works for both of us.”

    Is someone a predator if he waits for meat to go on sale at the grocery store? No. The grocery store voluntarily offers its product at a reduced price, and the buyers voluntarily purchase it. There is no force, as in a predator-prey relationship in the jungle.

    Without getting too philosophical, I am a laissez-faire capitalist, and by this I mean I uphold an individual’s right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Essentially, this translates to dealing with people on a value-for-value basis, a voluntary exchange of something of value the seller has for something of value the buyer has. This in no way resembles the ‘might makes right’ or ‘law of the jungle’ interpretation someone may have who thinks of an investor as a predator. Ultimately, the seller of a house is in complete control – I can’t buy his house unless he voluntarily sells it to me. No force, no predator-prey relationship.

    I’m not sure what the bloggers think is the problem concerning foreclosures and an investor. Look at one example:

    A house is ‘worth’ (a fuzzy notion, which really means is what someone would pay for it with normal advertising methods and length of time) $200k. A seller owes $190k (he put 5% down when he bought it, and has been paying no principal because he has an interest-only loan). He is 4 months behind on his payments because the interest rate is now 7%, and he could only afforrd it when he was paying the introductory 4%. He’s had the house listed for 6 months at $210k (he wants to get $5k at closing after Realtor fees and closing costs) but nobody has bought it. He’s been getting foreclosure notices from the bank and the auction date is set for a month from now. What are his options? He can lower the price $5k and get nothing at closing (and this will only work if he finds a buyer today and gives them 30 days to close since they have to get a bank loan – any closing date later than this and he’ll lose the house before he gets to the closing table), he can lower the price even more and sell quickly and take money to closing (but this is likely not an alternative since he probably doesn’t have $5-$10k laying around), or lose his house to foreclosure and now his credit is trashed and he potentially won’t be able to qualify for a decent bank loan for a few years.

    My question is this: what solution would the bloggers come up with? There’s no magic pill, but concerning the foreclosures, investors often try to negotiate with the bank to accept a reduced payoff, allowing the investor to buy the house at a price that will allow him to make a profit (otherwise there’s no reason for him to get involved, understandably) and sell/rent/repair the house. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I (and I suspect any other investor would) make this very clear to the seller initially. Something like: “Mr. Seller, I can’t make any promises – I may be able to negotiate a discount, and I may not. The bank is in complete control here, all I can do is negotiate with them. If I can’t get them to drop the payoff amount, I can’t buy your house. If you have any other offers/alternatives better than mine, you should take them. Otherwise, I can give this a shot and if it works, great, and if not, you really haven’t lost anything since you are facing foreclosure anyway. Mr. Seller, if this is agreeable to you, I need you to sign this piece of paper which very clearly states that I’ll do my best but I can’t make any promises that this will work. Only sign this if you want – you don’t have to, and I won’t feel bad if you don’t want to work with me.”

    No predator-prey relationship, no scam – I offer an option, and the seller can accept or decline. Of course, there are some people in all professions that are scam artists – deliberately lying or cheating their ‘prey’, offering nothing in return for the value they receive. This is not how I work, philosophically or professionally, but I can’t speak for every other real estate investor in Cville or the nation. I suspect the scam artists don’t stay in business long, or end up in jail.

    Anyway, I could go on, but my reason for explaining this is not to try to defend myself to a few bloggers I’ve never met who apparently misunderstand (or simply don’t understand) how many ways there are to buy houses, structure financing, and negotiate with sellers/contractors/Realtors/banks/brokers/etc. My main reason is to clarify on a more philosophical level the difference between predator-prey relationships in the jungle and voluntary relationships that exist in an ethical, free, capitalist environment.

    I’d definitely like to meet and discuss this further. I’d also be happy for you to forward this to Waldo (the blog author) or any of the other bloggers if you have their contact info, even though this email really just gives an incomplete response. While I do understand their mentality, it lacks a true understanding of how this business works.

    Let me know what day/time would work to get together – generally, the middle of the day is best for me.


    Dominick Montie

  14. It’s not the “we buy homes” people who are the problem – it’s the subprime lendors who are the reprehensible creeps. Skillful marketing led underqualified and naive buyers into homes they could not possibly afford. The “we buy homes” people are small change vultures following behind a much larger band of hyenas.

  15. NBC did a story on the foreclosure rate and they make the connection from the profound number of payday lenders (charging up to 780%!) to Virginia’s very high foreclosure rate. It’s interesting how very far we’ve come over the last couple thousand years. Usury in all forms used to be banned — per the bible. Medieval Europe, needing financing for wars and crusades and such, came up with an interesting loophole in which lending money (at interest) outside your religion was okay: hence the stereotype of the Jewish moneylenders. It was vastly convenient that kings were able to exile all of the moneylenders from time to time and wipe out their debt in the process. Are we certain we can’t get rid of these sub-prime types the same way? After all, our president thinks he’s a king…

  16. Dominick,

    Thank you for sharing the detailed explanation. I had suspected as much already if you see my prior notes. People invest not only their money but also their emotions into a home purchase. The tensions run high because the distressed seller and investment purchaser are at opposite ends of the emotional scale. Most people identify more with the emotional distress of the seller than the logic of the buyer.

  17. Equity skimming(“We Buy Houses” Signs). In this type of scam, a “buyer” approaches you, offering to get you out of financial trouble by promising to pay off your mortgage or give you a sum of money when the property is sold. The “buyer” may suggest that you move out quickly and deed the property to him or her. The “buyer” then collects rent for a time, does not make any mortgage payments, and allows the lender to foreclose. Remember, signing over your deed to someone else does not necessarily relieve you of your obligation on your loan.

    If the home has a lot of equity in it the “skimmer” will sell the home, pay off back debts on the home, and keep the equity you could have had if you sold it yourself.

    That’s the first thing I think of when I see those signs. If you are legit, and I’m still skeptical that you are, having your slogan/business associated with a scam doesn’t portray you in the best light.

  18. One note on the signs – I’ve put up those street signs over the past year, and about a month ago got a call from a city official saying it was against ordinance, so I’ve stopped. No big deal. If there are any more signs on public property, I have no problem with anyone removing them (the ones I do see I remove myself). At this point, I suspect they’re all gone. I intend to use private property to advertise in the future, but I suspect none of the bloggers would have a problem with this.

    There’s so much here that I simply don’t believe.

    1. If you thought it was OK, why did you mount so many of them 10′ above the ground, far out of reach?
    2. You seriously thought it was OK to stick signs up along public property?
    3. I saw two of your signs today alone, in the short distance between a memorial service and the cemetery. Shall we all start to catalog for you the places around town where your signs remain, having been very deliberately placed where they’re enormously difficult to remove?
    4. You’ve very pointedly said “public property.” Given that telephone poles are, in fact, private property, do you mean that you intend to continue to post signs there? And when you say that “intend to use private property to advertise in the future,” do you mean that you intend to continue to post signs on telephone poles, power poles, etc?

    And, BTW, how in the world did you get the signs up there? Some of them are mere inches from the bypass, 10′ in the air. Did you pull up a pickup in the dead of night, unfurl a ladder, rush up, nail it up, rush down, fold up the ladder, and take off?

    I’m still reeling at your suggestion that you didn’t know this was illegal, while also mounting these signs in the manner that you did. I’ve been chewing this over for a day or so now, and I don’t know whether to be insulted that you’d think we’re all so dumb, or impressed by the sheer audacity of your claim.

  19. Over the weekend, I’ll be writing up a more thorough version of my email to post on my business website. I encourage more questions, skepticism, etc. as this helps me to understand how people view the real estate investment business and all their concerns, questions, etc. Using their perspectives, I can better market my services in a way that will best explain how I do business and how I can help everyone I do business with, while at the same time alleviating their concerns about my legitimacy.

    A quick note about Waldo’s questions about the signs:

    1. So they wouldn’t get taken so quickly. I just started advertising in this manner last summer, and found that my signs were taken when staked in the ground (as in the picture at the top). I figured it was my competitors going around taking them, or just random people who didn’t like them.

    2. There are private signs everywhere, from other We buy houses to Relator signs to yard sale signs. I just stuck a lot more up than other people – I figured (rightly or wrongly) they just weren’t as motivated as I was to get their message out. To my discredit, I didn’t check city ordinance as this was already being done by other people. Once a city official told me it was illegal, I stopped and took down the ones I found.

    3. Actually, I’d appreciate the help, Waldo. Over the past months, I’ve stuck up a bunch of signs in places I don’t regularly go. If you tell me where they are, I’ll get them. I do look out for remaining ones, but they have either been taken down by me or others.

    4. I thought telephone poles were public property. By private property, I mean property belonging to private individuals who allow me to put my signs on their property. After a few more deals, I plan to buy a big car and ‘wrap’ my car (private property) with an advertisement, and potentially pay others to wrap their cars to do the same. There are lots more ways I might advertise, all (I think) legal (I have yet to fully read the lengthy city code) and all using private property.

    5. Well, I have a PhD in mechanical engineering from UVa (’03), and put together a long pole with a stapler at the top using parts from Lowe’s (yes, my parents do wonder why I’m not using my degree, but that’s an entirely different issue). I didn’t invent this; I only saw this in a picture and thought it was a good idea. No ladder – the pole is easier and safer, and a good idea for putting signs up on wooden structures on *private property*. Don’t worry, I won’t put up the signs on telephone poles even though they are apparently private – only places where I have spoken to the owner and gotten his permission to do so.

    Waldo, you really don’t need to be dramatic about this. Did you ever try calling the number on one of those signs to say it was illegal (and cite the code section number as an added benefit), or did you just decide complaining about it on this blog was the best course of action? Apparently you complained to city officials, but did you ever try just confronting the people involved (me)? I never got a complaint from you (I’ve never heard of you before yesterday when the Hook reproter told me about your blog) or anyone else, just interested sellers who had trouble selling their homes and wanted to find out what it was all about. It was only after about 7 months of this that I got a call from a city official who said it was illegal, and then I stopped. I’m not some outlaw rebel who wants to make a bad name for himself. I’m an enterprising entrepreneur who wants to do things differently (and legally) than most people so that he can achieve financial freedom and get back to doing research in mechanical engineering.

    You don’t need to feel insulted, and I’m not being audacious. I thought I was being imaginative and enterprising in my effort to advertise. I’m not your enemy, and there’s no reason for the drama. I made a mistake, I should have checked code and instead was just impressed with myself with what I thought was a good idea. I apologize to everyone I’ve offended by those signs.

    I do sincerely appreciate your feedback/thoughts and everyone else’s, and hope to get more, especially from people who are skeptical about this business. Again, the better I understand how people perceive me/this business, the better I can market my business in the best possible light. There’s no reason to be confrontational about the advertising or this business, at least with me. My personal cell is 434-409-9775, my personal email is, and I welcome anyone to write on this blog or get in touch with me directly. I will definitely benefit from everyone’s views on this issue or business in general.

    Best, Dominick

  20. It truly is amazing to me: How ongoingly pushy the brash can be and how polite most of us are in response. Dominick Montie is simply a human being of a type without which the rest of us would have appropriate room to breathe. Waldo, I know this is an open forum, but he’s using your blog in the any-publicity-is-good-publicity sense and I personally won’t come back to read any more.

  21. Without getting into the morality of the economic vultures, I do think the foreclosure explosion will help correct the market a bit. It’s long overdue – this is just a giant credit bubble and the fundamental affordability (as has been discussed on this board several times) of housing in the area has just plummeted – wages have not kept pace with prices, for nearly six years now. It seems to me to be nearly completely attributable to the flood of money into Mortgage-Backed Securities and out of the Stock Market following the dot-bomb bubble burst.

    It’s horrible for people to lose their homes, but I’m not terribly sympathetic to the person who just had to cash out 50G of equity (paper equity, BTW) to buy the latest toys – eg, that Escalade. Choices have consequences. Schaedenfreude is a fun(ny) thing…

  22. cville_libertarian:

    Unfortunately I can’t contact you privately since you didn’t leave a method for personal contact, but since this is an open forum and presumably it’s a valid means for intellectual exchange, I don’t think I’m out of place commenting on your message.

    Concerning the fact that wages have not kept pace with prices: As I stated above, I’m educated as an engineer but have read a little on economics, especially since I sometimes find myself defending my capitalist philosophy (particularly in the academic environment in which I’ve spent most of my life). To understand the rise in prices over the entire economy, it’s necessary to understand inflation – what it truly is and what causes it. To understand inflation, I believe it’s necessary to understand the true nature and function of the Federal Reserve, and the nature of the relationship between this private bank and the US government. If what I’ve read is true, you may be surprised and mortified at what you find.

    Concerning your last comment about Schadenfreude: I didn’t know what this was, but Wikipedia says it’s ‘pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.’ The only reason I comment on this curious closing remark is your choice of the phrase ‘economic vultures’ at the beginning. First, thank you and others for using this image because it helps me understand peoples’ mentalities of investors and perhaps businessmen in general (if this is in fact what you were alluding to). The better able I can understand other people, the better I can communicate with them and maximize my chances of achieving a harmonious relationship. A vulture eats the meat of dead animals – it doesn’t get their permission, nor does it need it (nor can it possibly get it, for that matter). Investors/businessmen deal with living human beings. Rational, respectful (of others’ basics rights, most importantly), and generally successful and happpy businessmen try to structure win-win deals. While both parties rarely get everything they want, both are sufficiently satisfied to voluntarily enter into an exchange of value-for-value. Each party must make a few decisions: Is this my best option at this time? Do I think I’ll have a better option later? If I wait, what are the potential consequences? If an agreement is reached, it is done so because both parties believe this is the best course of action for them. Rarely do people behave inconsistently with their own *perceived* best interest (even in emotionally heated times, people almost always take the action that appears best to them at the time). This in no way resembles a vulture-prey relationship, in which one party is dead and the other party receives its value without anything in exchange.

    My question is this: If the average person perceives an investor as a vulture, taking pleasure in profitting from another’s misfortune, would it be better for the investor simply not to offer an option to the homeowner and let it go to foreclosure? Would that be the humane thing to do, to simply let the person lose his house and let his credit be severely damaged? At the auction, it’s generally investors that buy these houses anyway. What is gained from this? Not much, I think. An investor who offers people an option who are facing foreclosure is simply a middleman between two states – the current state of a pending foreclosure, and the end result of an auction. What value does such an investor bring to the seller? He potentially saves their credit, potentially can give them some money (or even quite a bit, if they have a lot of equity), potentially saves them whatever embarrasment or shame they may feel from having lost their house to foreclosure and see it go to the courthouse steps for auction in front of lots of people, etc. Does a vulture add any value to its prey? While it does play an ecologically useful role, it offers no value to the already dead prey.

    I can’t comment on the pleasure or misfortune another person may experience from a business deal, but in my experience with sellers, the ones who are in the worst shape (facing foreclosure) thank me the most for trying to help, and most thank me for trying even if it doesn’t work out. They know they are in a bad situation, they know I am trying to help (for mutually beneficial reasons, of course), and they know I can only do my best. For most, I have also been the only person in all of Cville to offer them an option and a potential way out of their mess. Should I (and other businessmen like me) be ridiculed and libeled (by people who never took the time to meet us and understand what we do and how we do it) for being the only ones to offer help? This is up to the bloggers and the rest of society to decide, but please don’t talk about politeness, respect, and suffocating brashness when I am put in the defensive for trying to make money by providing real value to people who cannot provide it themselves and so are willing to pay me for it. I was wrong for putting signs on public property and I again apologize for it, but I don’t think I’m wrong for offering people (in many situations, not just foreclosure) one more option than they currently have. I am very open to hear any opinion as to why I am immoral or wrong for doing what I do.

    My desire for understanding and discourse is genuine, and I thank Waldo for providing this forum and for having been the cause for me to get involved on this blog in the first place.

  23. They are just investors not vultures, like Vito Corleone was just an olive oil importer. I get it. You provide a service. I appeciate your repeated efforts to explain it, it does not mean I have to like the idea or the service.

  24. Vultures are very useful creatures. But make no mistake D. Montie, you are a vulture: another animal has made the kill and you are there to clean up.

    Elizabeth – I find it fascinating how people can get indignant about vultures like D. Montie, yet where is the outcry for the paradigm facilitating these circumstances? Do you feel indignation when you go to the Medical Doctor’s office and you do not know how much it’ll cost? There are no “price lists”, and all the tests and prescriptions (typically written because some drug company has promoted their stuff) have no price tags other than once the orders have been filled! Yet you address your medical contact very respectfully as “doctor”. Do you enjoy $12 an aspirin at the hospital where a 18-hour stay might be charged $12,000?

    Personally, I prefer to be surrounded with vultures that look the part than a bunch of hyenas parading as friendly critters!

  25. Sympatico, it is easier to navigate society when people are wearing either a white hat or a black hat as appropriate. At a doctor’s office, I ask first because I don’t have health insurance. Interestingly one of two things happens: either I pay much more than an insurance company does because the doctor doesn’t offer individuals the same discounts the ‘big providers’ get, or I pay much less because the doctor has chosen to make it easier for the uninsured to have access to health care. Beyond which, the doctors I see tend to go by first names… As far as combatting this challenge beyond this instance, I had a wonderful time once on a jury where a forensic accountant was suing a client for the unpaid balance on a bill; the unpaid balance had many zeros in it and the invoices were skimpy little things indicating specific people for a specific number of hours, but neglecting to explain what was being done during those hours. We came down on the client’s side and when the accountant’s attorneys interviewed us afterwards the case pivoted on the un-itemized bills. I wouldn’t have accepted their form of bill from an auto mechanic for a $200 job. So yes, there are vultures everywhere, some are more obvious than others, and its useful for ourselves & our society in general to give them a poke of one kind or another when the opportunity comes our way. I like to include good old-fashioned shunning in my arsenal of poking devices.

  26. Elizabeth – you would render a great service to a lot of people if you could provide the name and practice of local the medical doctor that charges LESS because of an uninsured sitution!

  27. Welcome back Elizabeth. I see you are as convicted as you are relevant.

    So this guy (DM) rigs a tool to post a few signs on telephone poles to advertise a legitimate offer to buy homes from folks (whether they are nearing foreclosure or not). He is asked to take them down by a city official and does so (except for a few that Waldo has since found). Now we are comparing him to Vito Corleone??? Wow.

    Could someone PLEASE tell me who loses here???

    Are the construction crew members that come in to repair a home after it is damaged in a storm ‘vultures’? Are doctors that treat a patient after they have had a heart attack ‘vultures’? Why is it, when the ‘damage’ is financial, we see it so differently?

    Mr. Montie, you are guilty of a little poor judgment in your advertising and I would rethink your marketing strategy (which it looks like you are doing from the looks of your web site and I appreciate your thoughtful responses to this blog) but otherwise, carry on and good luck!

  28. Did you ever try calling the number on one of those signs to say it was illegal (and cite the code section number as an added benefit), or did you just decide complaining about it on this blog was the best course of action? Apparently you complained to city officials, but did you ever try just confronting the people involved (me)?

    Calling somebody who is advertising a likely-fraudulent business in order to complain about their illegal signs is like complaining to a crack salesman that he’s loitering.

    Are the construction crew members that come in to repair a home after it is damaged in a storm ‘vultures’? Are doctors that treat a patient after they have had a heart attack ‘vultures’?

    If they gain business by deception, yes, they are vultures. If they seek to coerce people into signing contracts that are misleading, damaging, or fraudulent, yes, yes they are.

    What this line of business reminds me of the “Everybody Rides” scam car dealership. They don’t want to sell cars. They’re not in the business of selling cars. They’re in the business of collecting enormous loan payments and then repossessing the car to resell it. So they deliberately target their advertising towards low income people with little financial or legal knowledge, people who desperately need a car in order to travel to work. They make promises that don’t match the contract, make sure that the buyer doesn’t read the contract, and then collect outrageous interest payments for a few months until they repossess the car.

    Who in the world sells their home via a no-bid process to somebody they learned about by seeing an illegally-placed sign 15′ up a telephone pole? Easy: Desperate people without the financial or legal knowledge to realize that a) it’s a staggeringly stupid way to sell a house b) they may not need to sell their house at all and c) all of these “we buy houses” businesses are easily classified as one of three types of scams.

    The method of advertising is deliberate, designed to target an ignorant, desperate audience who believes that they’ve found a solution to their financial problems. People who don’t know that this lifejacket is made out of cement.

  29. The only thing in the universe over which we have absolute control is our thoughts. They are the ultimate private property – only the individual has complete control over his own thoughts, and nobody else has any control whatsoever over them. For me, the exchange of ideas represents the ideal form of human interaction – a voluntary exchange based on mutual respect and understanding, incapable of being forced.

    I respect, genuinely and absolutely, an individual’s right to his own thoughts and opinions, and consequently I respect each person’s opinions and assessments of me, real estate investing, and business in general. I thank each of you for sharing your thoughts with me, and for at least reading mine. There is, however, no further reason for me to address this audience. Waldo, thank you again for providing this forum.

    Best wishes to all.

    Very sincerely,

    Dr. Dominick T. Montie
    DMT Properties

  30. Waldo:

    “Everybody Rides” is NOT a ‘scam’. It is a tagline for a reputable dealership in Charlottesville, thought up by an individual to promote the fact that they sell cars. To suggest that this is a scam is simply a misnomer (if not a little paranoid). This particular dealership (not all, as some do provide their own ‘private’ financing) only retains the sale price of the car minus their own costs to put/keep the car on their lot. The finance company, not the dealership (who uses the tagline) retains the interest from the loan. Did you call this dealership and ask their method of financing before slandering them, or are they Crack Salesmen too?

    “We buy houses” people are only scam artists if they, in fact, do not buy houses, if coercion is used to procure a contract, or if the contract is fraudulent. Mr. Montie seems to have made his case regarding your complaints.

  31. The finance company, not the dealership (who uses the tagline) retains the interest from the loan.

    I notice a very careful choice of words here. First, I wonder if any of the principals of the auto sales operation have any equity interest in the finance company. Secondly, although the auto sales operation may not retain “interest” from the loan, I’d be interested in knowing if they receive any income whatsoever from the loans. Origination fees? Late fees? Credit check fees?

    Maybe, just maybe, this auto sales operation doesn’t make a penny of income from anything relating to auto financing. But, I’d bet that they do.

  32. Financial illiteracy in an extremely materialistic consumer society is the underlying problem here. The only effective approach is education and regulation of the financial products which take extreme advantage of financially vulnerable people.

  33. I thank each of you for sharing your thoughts with me, and for at least reading mine. There is, however, no further reason for me to address this audience.

    Interesting way to bail out of the conversation. I actually find this reply more damning than if he’d stuck around and unsuccessfully attempted to clear his name.

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