Editor's Note: Please see amdendment at the end of this story. Due to several emails about loan modification, I am providing additional information.
Q: What did you dream of being as a kid?
President of the United States
Q: How does your personality play into your business?
I am naturally a very outgoing person; “the life of the party” some would say :) I love meeting new people, I love helping everyone I know any way I can. When dealing with the prospect of losing one’s home it’s easy to imagine that people’s stress level is at an all-time high. We know how to fix the financial issue with the banks so my personality comes in quite handy when working on “fixing” the often negative mindset most of our clients start with throughout the process.
Q: At what moment did you decide to open a business?
Starting back in June 2009 my business partner, Rick Bennett and I decided to open what was at the time a direct service provider to homeowners with a distressed real estate situation. B&L Advantage, LLC was opened out of necessity after having spent over 7 years in the traditional mortgage industry when it seemed as if EVERYONE we ran into was having a hard time with their mortgage, they couldn’t qualify for traditional refinance programs, they DID qualify for the Government Modification Program (HAMP – Released 3/4/2009) but their lender was refusing to help them.
We knew what was happening to these people wasn’t right so we answered the call to action.
B&L Advantage, LLC operated as a direct service provider until November 2010 when offering this type of service for a fee was deemed to be a new area of practice of law that could only be carried out by a licensed attorney. At that time we changed the business model for B&L Advantage, LLC to that which it still is today; a contract paralegal services firm that makes the attorneys it works for into INSTANT experts in the loss mitigation business. Last year, realizing more people who are struggling needed to be made aware of their options we decided to start Foreclosure Prevention Advocates (FPA) for the sole purpose of helping people who aren’t sure what to do, who to believe or where to go from where they currently are.
We outline people’s options for them ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE! From there,they’re empowered to decide what direction they want to go in.
Q: What inspired you?
In the summer of 2000 after a long and difficult battle with cancer my Mom passed away at the age of 44. My Dad had been working as a Deputy Sheriff for Barnstable County and as such had health coverage that covered 80% of the health care costs for our family. Normally, that would be fine but with literally Millions of dollars worth of medical bills to cover 20% of he ended up taking out a high interest, adjustable rate mortgage loan on the home that I grew up in, that he built in Marstons Mills. A couple of years went by before his rate adjusted up and he couldn’t afford the payment anymore. He fell behind and eventually one day I got a phone call with him telling me that he had “failed.”
My Dad has always been my hero – my inspiration. I had never heard defeat in his voice until that day. Not knowing ANYTHING about the mortgage industry at the time I sprung into action – borrowed some money from friends, paid the bank just enough to call of the wolves and enlisted the help of the BEST REALTOR ON CAPE COD (Jan Merrill – Currently with William Raveis). Jan was able to find a buyer just in time so that we could sell the house and get SOME of the equity that was still there. The day we closed and my Dad got a check with just enough to start anew I looked across the closing table and told Jan that this was what I wanted to do – help people like she had helped us in the real estate industry because a family’s home is more important thanthe sum of its parts.
Q: Describe the biggest challenge of owning a business in the town of Barnstable?
I’m a young, ambitious BIG PICTURE thinker. There are not that many of us here in the town of Barnstable. Many people and business owners here are very set in their ways – there seems to be an “I’ll believe it when I see it attitude.” I have always had the attitude that I’ll believe it UNTIL I see it!
Acceptance of the status-quo when the status-quo isn’t working is in my opinion absolutely ludicrous. I would have already gotten a lot more done if there were more people in this town that shared this PASSIONATE opinion.
Q: Describe the best thing about owning a business in the town of Barnstable?
When you do a great job in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else referrals ABOUND! I’ve built my entire career off referral business and being in the town of Barnstable has in many ways made that possible.
Q: What is one thing you would never change about your business?
Our philosophy that NO just means to keep on looking; it doesn’t mean that you give up! We have a real problem with that little 2 letter word around here :)
Q: What is your business’ greatest asset?
By far, our team. I’ve got the most loyal, talented, dedicated and selfless group of individuals working with me at our company who all share the same passion, vision and goals. Rick Bennett, Heather Wilson, Nicky Mooney, Cindy Hulett, Justin Vermillion, Brian Wasser, Bob Piquette, Ricardo DeOliveira, Fernando DeOliveira and our mascot Buddy the Bull Dog! They are, collectively, our GREATEST ASSET!
Q: What is your favorite spot in town?
Sandy Neck. The off-road section more specifically. I just got a (new to me) Jeep Grand Cherokee and you better believe that I’ll be out there as much as I can be with my wife Amy, our 2 year old son Lukas, our dog Boh with a bon-fire, a fishing pole, some friends and a cooler full of… whatever goes in coolers :)
Q: What’s one thing the community should know about you?
With me there are never problems – there are only opportunities to find solutions. I was born here, I grew up here, I’m raising my family here, I’m running my business here. I believe in this community. I believe in the people that call this community their home and I know that my generation of “Locals” is fully capable of handling any/all issues that currently exist or that may exist in the future as long as we each choose to do what I have done and will continue to do – I do not, I will not SETTLE for anything less than what is right and fair and just – for me, for my friends, for my clients, for my neighbors, FOR ANYONE!
HAC has an entire department dedicated to foreclosure/mortgage issues. HAC is the only non-profit agency doing this work on the Cape. It walks people through the entire process (explain mortgage and foreclosure options, prepare modification requests, submit modification paperwork, empower folks to speak with their lender through the process, review correspondence from their lender, provide debt management counseling, counsel alternative housing options, provide referrals to community social service agencies, attorneys, real estate professionals, loss mitigation specialists, and a certified financial planner).
HAC is reimbursed by state and federal money that has been put in place specifically for these issues. It does not bill clients, ever.
From the AG’s office: If you are worried about keeping your home, avoid anyone that:
- Asks for a fee in advance
- Guarantees that they will stop a foreclosure or modify a loan
- Tells you to stop paying your mortgage company and to pay them instead