ACORN and understanding reality

For weeks, I’ve been getting emails from readers about this survey released by the consumer group ACORN about a month ago. A refresher on the finer points of the survey:

In the first effort of its kind, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) surveyed all major mortgage servicing companies in the nation, and has found that at least 76% of outstanding mortgage loans are serviced by companies who have committed to implementing the Obama plan.

I’ve received all sort of emails saying that we needed to cover this item here at HousingWire, either as good news, or to call ACORN to the mat on some sort of BS. We didn’t cover this “news” for one very simple reason: the study is meaningless and says nothing. It’s not hard to find out who manages 76 percent of the nation’s outstanding mortgage loans, folks. Four banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs. Add ResCap/GMAC into that list, and you’re roughly at 76 percent. Some sluething by the folks over there at ACORN, right? More importantly, all five of those firms received TARP funding from the government. Meaning that they don’t have a choice as to whether they will participate; participation is compulsory for such institutions. What ACORN didn’t ask was whether any of the firms being forced to participate think the program will actually work. That’s the money question, and it’s why we didn’t cover the ACORN study as news. Because it isn’t news. It’s just poorly informed research. ACORN may not have asked the right questions, but in an upcoming exclusive interview with Bank of America mortgage chief Barbara Desoer, HW did. If you don’t subscribe to our monthly print magazine, you’re missing out — click here to subscribe today.

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