Wednesday, May 29, 2019

D. Sidney Potter, Author of The Essayist: Reflections from a Real Estate Survivor

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Today we are interviewing D. Sidney Potter about his work, "The Essayist: Reflections from a Real Estate Survivor: (A Collection of Essays from The Huffington Post, Dissident Voice and CounterPunch.com)."

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in real estate and finance.
Born and raised in Southern California. Both sides of the family were in the real estate brokerage industry in one form or another.

Describe your essay collection for readers just learning about your work.
It’s a compendium of essays I wrote over a 5-year period from 2011 to 2016 as I traversed the country working for the very banks that provided home mortgages to the American populous, pre-implosion. I would fax in or email to various online periodicals, such as Inman Real Estate, Huffington Post, Dissident Voice and CounterPunch.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading your essay collection?
Anyone whose looking for an insider perspective, I suppose.  

What inspired you to share your experiences in the real estate finance mortgage industry?
Great opportunity to Monday quarterback the whole situation.  It just made sense at the time.

One of the themes in your writings is your criticism of the banking industry. What do you think is the biggest mistake they made in handling the situation?
That’s a perplexing question, since I think it can be argued that the biggest mistake was in how they the banks handled the post-crisis aftermath. And this was the loss mitigation aspect of it all. They did not have the appearance (or even the blue prints), on how to mitigate the foreclosures.  As a result, there were multi-billion dollar class action settlements for those that had their homes wrongly foreclosed upon. Those were the mortgage operation centers I worked in during that 5-year period of writing.

You also comment on the American populations eagerness to work with subprime mortgages. For people unfamiliar with subprime mortgages, can you briefly explain what they are? 
Subprime mortgages are essentially easier to get mortgages then let’s say prime mortgages.  Meaning, you put less money down, have a lower FICO score and document less income and assets, and viola – you should be able to get a mortgage. They are however reappearing in the market place, so instead of calling them subprime loans, they’re called Non-QM loans. The QM stands for “qualified mortgage”, which essentially means they did not meet the standards to be called qualified mortgage, which is a loan that the federal government will insure and buy back worst-case scenario. The only separation between Non-QM and Subprime today, is that they have a 10% down requirement for an investment home, compared to 0 to 5% for subprime back in the day. Give it about another 3 to 5 years before it goes back down to about 5%, and then things will start to rock n’ roll once again.
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The back cover of The Essayist: Reflections from a Real Estate Survivor.

Why do you think Americans were so eager to use subprime mortgages? And how can this mistake be avoided in the future?
They were eager, since some realized that the American Dream was only a signature away – literally and metaphorically. By simply signing a mortgage note they became a member. As to whether or not it will happen again, that’s the $64,000 question. Who knows?

When revisiting your experience through writing, did your perspective change compared to your views while in the midst of it?
I hate to say it, but my perspective only changed a small percentage. Keep in mind, I had been in the business over a decade before I started to write.  I wasn’t coming in as an outsider. 

What role did professional legislators have in the mortgage crisis?
Everything and nothing. Meaning, the laissez-faire declawing of banking legislation of the late 1990’s and the poisonous Kool-Aid that resulted in new mortgage product was Exhibit A for the mortgage crisis. Ultimately, this product was feed to a somewhat unwitting public to purchase homes. Simple as that.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your essays?
Being as balanced as possible without displaying too much cynicism.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
Ideally, a jaded, but balanced and objective view of the money changers in this country.

How have readers responded to your book so far?
Positively, I hope.

Are they any authors who have influenced your writing style?
I admire writer practitioners. Meaning those that have actually worked in the industry in which they write about.  That would include Nomi Prins (All the Presidents' Bankers, Black Tuesday, and Other People's Money), and Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and The Big Short).

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
It’s a memoir that lends itself as a cross between Death of a Salesman meets Glengarry, Glen Ross.  In short, The Broker chronicles the pathos of middle-aged men experiencing career failure, the nuts and bolts of real estate brokerage, and racism – as filtered through the eyes of a Black Italian Jew, raised in part, in South Central Los Angeles to West Los Angeles in the 1960’s and 70’s.  

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Nope, not at the moment.

More Information
Visit "The Essayist" website.

Buy "The Essayist" Kindle edition. 

Buy "The Essayist" Hardcover Edition.

Buy "The Essayist" Softback Edition.

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