I wish Blown Mortgage didn’t exist. Not because it’s author, Morgan Brown, has acted in anyway unethical, irresponsible, or sensationalistic. No, I just wish the mortgage industry wasn’t giving him an abundance of negative material to write about in the first place. Morgan’s blog is an excellent example of responsible advocacy that has evolved into a bit of an unintended business model.
Hi Morgan, what inspired you to create Blown Mortgage?
I created Blown Mortgage with the same inspiration that led me to start New Day Trust Mortgage. I have always been a big believer in consumer advocacy. I believe that business should help the American public first and profit second. We try to do that every day with New Day Trust Mortgage; but it is very difficult to reach that level consistently across a big organization, particularly in situations as complex and emotional as home financing transactions. In addition, people tend to be very leery about anything that comes from the corporate megaphone of a mortgage company. Trying to get the consumer advocate position across in a corporate communication is limited in its effectiveness as people have built up a large distrust towards our industry.
So with that in mind I created Blown Mortgage. I was still hearing horror stories of people getting ripped off. And I couldn’t find an appropriate outlet to consistently get out the message to consumers to “watch your back” when jumping in to the mortgage waters. I wanted to tell an unabashed, unvarnished, honest story – a no-holds-barred, irreverent blog that just hits hard and tells the truth. Some people love it, some people in our industry hate it and its taken on a life of its own.
At first it was just going to be a private blog – with out bringing New Day in to it because of the edge that some of the content takes. But, I saw us continue to lose business because of our honest, straight-forward approach, and we couldn’t communicate our message in an unvarnished way through traditional communications. So I started to put our New Day information up.
Have you encountered any backlash from the industry for “telling it like it is”?
I definitely have. It seems like the people with the most backlash are those that are the fans of the status quo. I rememer I made a post about Good Faith Estimates where I basically graffitied all over a GFE that was clearly filled out by someone incompetent or shady or both. I wrote all sorts of things like “look for junk fees here” and “what a joke” next to the rate. Well, I had the mortgage brokers come out of the wood work saying I was providing misinformation and that junk fees aren’t junk fees that they are necessary and all of that good stuff. Only Brian Brady said ‘look, its clearly incorrectly filled out and Morgan’s right’ regardless of one or two items being possible – the whole picture was a joke. No one could admit it though. I still get a lot of it.
It’s mainly from people in the industry who say that I don’t know what I’m talking about or I’m over-simplifying things. I disagree. I have a point of view about the industry. I believe that for the most part it deserves the reputation it has; and the people disagreeing with me are those that have the most to lose from change in our industry.
Recently, you took up the cause of publicizing the legal battle between ML Implode-O-Meter and Loan Center of California. Why should other bloggers in our industry take note of this lawsuit?
I think its important for the same reasons that people should take note of other freedoms being curtailed. Some people don’t like ML-Implode because it pokes fun at our industry and revels in a Jon Stewart-esque sarcastic enjoyment of the toppling of mortgage companies. So what? Just because you don’t like the site, or the company you worked for that shut down was moonlighted on the site doesn’t mean that they should be shut down. ML-Implode didn’t shut your company down – poor management did.
I think its important because blogging has become a powerful voice for ordinary people to diseminate their thoughts and ideas. A massive soap box. And its a fragile freedom – being able to say what you want. Blogging is still in its infancy, and if corporate America is allowed to quash any dissenting blogger view point with a simple frivolous lawsuit blogging is going to quickly return to family anecdotes and photos. It will lose its relevance as a new media tool and as the powerful platform it has become in disseminating ideas, information and different points of view.
That result would be tragic. I can’t afford to be sued, I don’t think too many of us can pick up a $50,000 legal tab at the drop of a hat. So whether you love or hate ML-Implode; if you love blogging you have to support their cause.
Blown Mortgage is not the only place you blog. What’s the advantage to posting to multiple blogs?
I think the big advantage is getting to have different goals at each blog. You can speak in a different voice and talk to different segments. Some people hate Blown Mortgage – and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. But the ideas are important. If I can share an idea about ARM resets in different formats that appeal to different targets that allows the important messages to reach the right people in a context that they are comfortable in.
There are other benefits too: I also get to reach people I wouldn’t otherwise reach, I get to meet incredible people (like over at Bloodhound), I get to talk about different topics that don’t necessarily fit at Blown Mortgage, there are a bunch of reasons why I like to write at different locations.
On your company’s web site, I don’t see a link to Blown Mortgage. How does your blog fit into your marketing plan, or does it?
As I mentioned above it started out as a private blog – and I even said in an early podcast with Rhonda Porter and Brian Brady that I didn’t want to bastardize Blown Mortgage or its message by being a lead-generating enterprise. So in the beginning it was intentionally left out of the New Day stuff; I saw a conflict of interest. But then everyone kept telling me that I was crazy and finally I listened. But it has been a slow integration. I’ve developed a voice and culture at Blown Mortgage that doesn’t take too kindly to overt in-your-face advertising so I’ve rolled out bits and pieces with zero fan fare or attention. Just add my name and phone number on one day, add an online application with out any notice or attention, and eventually they’ll be more linked.
New Day has its own marketing engine that Blown Mortgage will feed in to in a more seamless manner down the road, but we’re just going slow in the physical linking of the two.
It’s funny because we use Blown Mortgage all the time in our day-to-day sales. I think every sales call has someone sending the client or prospect to Blown Mortgage; so while its not overt online Blown Mortgage definitely plays in to our overall approach to generating business.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
Geez – I am a victim of information overload. I have a feed reader list that goes for days; and it is separated by real estate, mortgage, bubble blogs, you name it. Some of my favorite blogs are all over the map – I love blogs like Copy Blogger and Pro Blogger because they help me become a better blogger. I of course like Bloodhound, Rain City Guide, LA Land blog, Mortgage Insider by the OC Register, Housing Panic, Housing Wire is excellent, and of course ML-Implode – I could go on and on.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
Most important thing – get to know other bloggers. I’ve achieved my biggest successes online by knowing other bloggers. You can write all the great stuff in the world; but if people don’t care about what you have to say you might as well be screaming in to the wind.
Second piece of advice that I can give is to find your voice and be authentic. Take a stand and don’t be afraid to have people call you an idiot or tell you you’re wrong. Some times you’re right and you can stand up for yourself and what you believe in; and sometimes you’re wrong and you learn something new.