Ask the Author ~ Jorge P. Newbery

Discuss the December 2015 book of the month Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery.
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Ask the Author ~ Jorge P. Newbery

Post by Scott » 01 Dec 2015, 10:33

After reading the December book of the month, Burn Zones, what questions would you ask the author, Jorge P. Newbery, if you could?

This might not just be hypothetical. Mr. Newbery is a member of this website. :D

I'm sure he is busy, though. To give you a little background on Mr. Newbery, he's a Huffington Post blogger and the CEO of the American Homeowner Preservation.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

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Post by CallMeMissEllis » 12 Dec 2015, 14:08

I'd really like to know when he started writing and when and how he knew that he wanted to write a novel :)

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Post by Jorge P Newbery » 20 Dec 2015, 14:27

Miss Ellis -

Thanks for your question.

In 2010, as Director of American Homeowner Preservation, I was invited to write a blog post for the now-defunct Shame The Banks website. Before that, I had not written an article since I was on the staff of my junior high school paper. Nevertheless, the post was well-received and I was later invited to be a regular contributor. Most of my posts exposed the challenges of homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure. Fascinatingly for me, the posts started getting picked up by larger news outlets. In one notable case, the media pressure ignited by one of my posts caused Goldman Sachs to cancel the foreclosure sale for an Ohio family and reconsider allowing them to stay. It felt good. Once Shame The Banks was shuttered, I wrote for a few other sites before graduating to Huffington Post.

I originally wanted to write a book on how to avoid foreclosure. However, going from writing blog posts to writing a book was a big step. To help get started, I took a writing class in 2012 at The Writer's Loft in Chicago. Still, I did not find the time and determination to actually start writing the book until May 2014. By then, I had expanded my topic:
First, I wanted to explain my personal financial collapse, counter some of the negative news stories about me found online, and inspire others encountering challenges in their lives. Second, I wanted to teach anyone struggling with unaffordable debts how to settle their debts for big discounts.

The working title was Debt Cleanse: How To Settle Your Unaffordable Debts For Pennies On The Dollar (And Not Pay Some At All). However, as I wrote, I kept expanding my personal story in order to show that I was not a con man showing people how to stiff their creditors. Instead, I was an entrepreneur who took risks, one of which failed and unwound everything I had. Thus, rather than just going back a decade to show how I lost every dollar, I started at age seven when I earned my first dollar. In the end, I split the books: Burn Zones tells my life story and the step-by-step how-to Debt Cleanse comes out in January 2016.

Writing the two books took an immense amount of time and effort. Many evenings and weekends for the last nineteen months have been consumed by writing and rewriting. After Debt Cleanse comes out, I expect to return to writing blog posts for awhile.

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Post by new orleans chic » 24 Dec 2015, 22:15

I would like to know who his earliest influence a were

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Post by Jorge P Newbery » 28 Dec 2015, 02:04

Hi NOLA chic -

Thanks for the question. My parents have been my biggest influencers by far. My mother was a British actress who shared compassion, creativity, and a limitless imagination. My father was an Argentine-born interior designer who would strive for the impossible, loved to work, and was an incessant problem-solver. Both parents led examples for me to follow, supported me no matter where my wandering mind led me, and allowed me the freedom to try anything and - most importantly - to fail.

My biggest and earliest influence in writing was my 10th grade journalism teacher at Palisades High School in Los Angeles. I forget her name, but I can still see her face. She taught me how to write an article: state my claim, prove it in the body, and summarize. I still write using some of what I was taught in that class.

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Post by hsimone » 05 Jan 2016, 07:57

Mr. Newberry has been given some heavy cards to handle throughout his life, I would like to know if there is anything that he wishes would have been different?
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by Jorge P Newbery » 05 Jan 2016, 11:52

Thanks for the challenging question. "If only I had or had not done this or that..." is a difficult rabbit hole to enter.

I think my life would have been different if I had not purchased Woodland Meadows, if the ice storm had not occurred, if the City had not wanted the property. In hindsight, it's easy to say that if I had made different choices, my life would have been better, easier, and/or more fulfilling.

However, maybe I needed to go through all that. Without my trials, I would not have learned how to help others crushed by unaffordable debts. American Homeowner Preservation would not exist, I could not have written Burn Zones and my upcoming Debt Cleanse: How To Settle Your Unaffordable Debts For Pennies On The Dollar (And Not Pay Some At All), I would not have met my wife, and many of the good things in my life today would not exist. Good can come from bad.

I confess that thoughts of regret do occasionally waft through my mind, but I promptly dispel. I remind myself of an early lesson from bike racing: never look back.

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Post by hsimone » 05 Jan 2016, 14:05

Good point - it can be a difficult rabbit hole thinking this way. Every experience can be viewed as positive and/or negative, but without them then we wouldn't be who we are today. So, thank you for your thoughts, and I congratulate you on all your accomplishments! :)
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by eunice2868 » 09 Jan 2016, 03:27

@Jorge, would you consider giving talks at TED Talk? You have a lot of ideas worth spreading. :) :text-welcomeconfetti:

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Post by Jorge P Newbery » 09 Jan 2016, 06:18

Hi Eunice -

Thanks for your kind words.

No TED yet, but I was invited to talk at Failure Lab, which has been referred to as the "anti-TED": instead of speakers sharing their successes, they share their failures. If you Google "Entrepreneurs Are Losers", you should find my Huffington Post story about my experience. This includes a link to the talk on YouTube.

I'd love to give a TED Talk. Maybe one day.

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Post by hsimone » 09 Jan 2016, 13:32

I think that would be a great idea! I'll have to google your story and watch the video. Thank you for sharing! :)
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by Scott » 18 Jan 2016, 14:52

@"Jorge P Newbery" I would love to know--roughly speaking--what it would take to save homes facing foreclosure using your clever process in other locations such as my home state of Connecticut. I really liked what I read about it in Burn Zones. I know a lot of people who could benefit from this. Does your company have reach nationwide?

It seems like the process is itself a win-win for all involved: the lenders who dislike having to take ownership of unmaintained foreclosed properties get to sell the bad mortgage at an acceptable price and minimize their losses or even still maintain a profit (depending on how much interest has already been paid vs how much of a discount there is on the sale price) and the homeowners get a chance to not only stay in their home but get back into home ownership which is very difficult for one who has otherwise gone through foreclosure.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

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Post by Jorge P Newbery » 18 Jan 2016, 15:23

Hi Scott -

Thanks for the question. AHP's initial program was to buy homes from families in foreclosure on short sales, lease back to the family at a discounted amount, and provide them the option to repurchase later on at an amount often less than half what they owed on their prior mortgage. Struggling homeowners and investors liked the program, but existing lenders often did not. They sometimes accused AHP's program as providing an incentive for borrowers to default, as if the family owing double what they owed was not enough. As a result, many banks and other lenders did not approve AHP offers.

Thus, we then offered to buy nonperforming mortgages at discounts from banks, as this is something they do regularly. Once we own the loans, we offer homeowners the options of substantial modifications, discounted lump-sum settlements, or cash incentives to cooperate with shorts sales or deeds in lieu. This iteration has worked out much better.

We do work nationwide. However, we can only buy the mortgages which the banks offer to us. For instance, if Mrs. Jones calls up and asks us to buy her mortgage from Citi, I cannot call Citi and offer to buy it. Instead, Citi and other lenders will periodically cull through their portfolios and choose certain mortgages to sell for whatever reason. We have no control over what they offer. If our bid is accepted and we acquire, we then contact the homeowners with the good news. The vast majority of homeowners have not heard of AHP before we bought their mortgages.

We have bought and continue to buy loans in Connecticut. However, if a homeowner cannot afford their mortgage and wants AHP to buy their loan, there is nothing that we can do to prod their lender to sell to us. Nevertheless, I would encourage the family to stay in their home as long as possible, even if they are not paying. The assistance of an attorney experienced in foreclosure defense will often help. The longer the family can withstand the burn zone of collection efforts and foreclosure actions, the greater the likelihood that their loan will be sold at a discount to AHP or some other debt buyer, either of which will likely be more receptive to favorable settlements.

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Post by CzechTigg » 19 Jan 2016, 11:48

Hi Jorge,

What more could be done, to your mind, to improve standards of literacy and overall rates of people reading proper books? (I don't include half-baked biographies of celebrities designed to act as a PR tool for them)

Thanks.

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Post by Scott » 19 Jan 2016, 12:21

Jorge P Newbery, thank you so much for your detailed and informative answer. :)
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

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