Tainted Conclusions

Letters published November 2, 2005

Mortgage brokers: not always the devil: After reading your very slanted article on the mortgage industry, and on Argent/ Ameriquest and VP Equity in particular ["All the President's Men," October 19], I felt compelled to address a few salient details which seem to have been conveniently omitted. It is painfully obvious that you had an agenda, and nothing would prevent you from achieving the tainted conclusions.

Having spent over 14 years in the mortgage-lending arena, I find the situations you highlighted to be in a very small minority. It is common for those with an axe to grind to overlook the positive aspects of mortgage brokering in order to paint the profession in the worst light. You fail to mention anything about the benefits of using a broker who has a broad array of products and lenders to employ when extricating the financially inept from their plights of delinquency. A cursory read of the Jackson situation has me wondering if you even contacted VP Equity to get their insights into Jackson's circumstances which led to his refinancing. Perhaps he had some credit blemishes which precluded his qualifying for bank-grade rates.

I have no doubt that "predatory lending" has been and is practiced in greater Cleveland and that foreclosures are high, but it's not only because of snake-oil mortgage salespeople. Believe it or not, there are people who are fiscally irresponsible and who have little concern for making payments on time. Likewise, with the mass exodus of employers in Cleveland, job losses create financial crunches. Perhaps an exposé is in order on why Jane Campbell can't keep the citizens employed, so they can pay their mortgages.

I know the men who owned VP Equity at the time Jackson received his refinancing. They are among the most honest, fair-minded people in the brokering industry. They deserved at least your consideration before taking this to press and slandering them to all your readers. As for Argent and Ameriquest, they seem to have had a chance to clear up their involvement in these lending scenarios. Why doesn't VP Equity deserve the same courtesy?

It seems you did very little research into the pros and cons of mortgage brokering here in Northeast Ohio, choosing instead to unleash your venom in left-wing posturing, carefully avoiding anything which would have given a fair and balanced analysis of the borrowers in question. You have made them all out to be innocent victims, when in fact the need to turn to subprime lenders is predicated on financial and credit issues of borrowers.

The brokers and lenders with whom I have been associated since 1992 would much prefer to channel all their business to bank-quality lenders, as their time is more efficiently spent processing these loans than the labyrinths and mazes which at-risk borrowers present.

Dennis Faubel

[Editor's note: Scene reporter Denise Grollmus called VP Equity three times to speak with the agent who brokered Jackson's loan. No one from the company returned her calls.]

Safe harbor from predators: Congratulations on your cover story. I am happy to see an article about Ameriquest/Argent Mortgage. It is a pleasure to see that this type of behavior is being revealed.

I have represented victims of predatory-lending schemes for the past three years and have been frustrated by the lack of attention that these stories receive.

Currently, I am working on a new project in Cuyahoga County, the Foreclosure Prevention Program. Our aim is to fight the root causes of the foreclosure epidemic.

Mark Wiseman,
Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program

Nothing Strange About It
A vote for Strangelove recording:
While I respect your taste as a music reviewer, I believe that the slam of respected local studio Strangelove was unwarranted [Regional Beat, October 12]. You would not judge the quality of a hammer if a carpenter drives a nail badly. You couldn't critique a clothing store's fashion taste because one person selects a mismatched set of clothing from the racks. Similarly, to harshly judge the quality of a recording studio, based on the choices of a single band and how it wishes to be recorded and mixed, is unfair.

The recording studio is not acting as a producer dictating the band's stylistic choices, but as another tool that the musicians direct to produce the sound that they are looking for. To critique the quality of a studio, one would have to survey different bands and sit in on a few varied sessions, as well as listen to several products that emanated from that studio. None of these things was done here -- just a gratuitously poor shout-out to a respected studio that doesn't deserve it.

Strangelove works with lots of local talent, and they keep coming back. As a local artist, I have had only good outcomes there. Even when I feel I am not performing at my strongest, they still bring out the best in my sound. I know others think so as well.

Strangelove is moving next month to new quarters on East 55th that are twice the size, to accommodate all the artists who record with it. As a satisfied client who knows the quality of the place, I felt I had to respond.

Miriam Mendelson

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