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Preserving the Property Preservation Space

Kerry Medel, Client Relationship Manager, Brookstone Management LLC

Kerry Medel is Client Relationship Manager for Brookstone Management LLC, a nationwide firm specializing in preserving and maintaining vacant, pre-foreclosure, and REO assets.

Founded in 2005, Brookstone Management carries a property from the delinquent phase through sale, delivering an array of inspection, preservation, maintenance, repairs, and compliance services on vacant, occupied, and foreclosed properties. A direct service provider to government agencies, lender servicers, and mortgage lenders, Brookstone maintains strict compliance with all jurisdictions, local and state authorities, and clients and investors guidelines.

Medel caught up with DS News to discuss how the industry survived the past few years since the pandemic, and what lies ahead for the property preservation space moving forward.

The last couple of years have been unprecedented and the industry has faced lots of challenges across the board. What did the industry do well over this period?
Medel: I guess they would all tie into each other. One of the first things that I would mention from a field servicing perspective was that they kept the borrowers in their houses longer. Obviously, I think that's everybody's takeaway there.

From behind the scenes, I think the swift way the industry changed their strategies regarding loss mitigation was a major victory. Forbearance was one of the most underutilized options and became the most utilized option. Most of those processors were probably not as familiar with what went into forbearances as the other options, but they shifted their gears quickly. The industry kept people in their homes, but also put more people in houses as well.

Were there any areas the industry could have improved upon?
Medel: I think a lot of it could have been better predicted. Everybody talks about business continuity plans, but I don't think that the industry necessarily had one ready to go.

Updating investor guidelines from a field servicing perspective … that was something promised before the pandemic, but was obviously delayed. We never got updated pricing … the guidelines didn't change, and timelines didn't change, so I think that was a hardship, given that inflation also hit. It was like you hit the boots on the ground two times basically.

I feel like the drive-by inspections for loans that were still in forbearance, even though they were not delinquent, and servicers would probably not be reimbursed for those costs. I felt like that was sort of a "penny-wise and pound-foolish" strategy. I feel like that could have been something that maybe even the investor could have tried to work out better with the servicers to say, "We'll pay that back to you, protect the asset." Let's try to do right by everybody.

What does success look like for the industry as we move through the year 2022?
Medel: I think that for Brookstone Management, I want to audit the current processes. I think success would be using this time to make sure that those processes increase profitability since money everywhere is just so sparse. Basically, identifying and fixing any inefficiencies. There will always be tech enhancements to consider, and that's never going to go away.

Success would be continuing to deliver quality products to our clients. We also aim to strengthening the partnership between our vendor network and our office. I felt like, during the pandemic, we were huge advocates for our vendors. Success, at the end of this year, would be continuing to advocate for our vendors.

In terms of supply chain issues, have certain areas been more of a pain point than others?
Medel: I think supply chain issues impacted us across the board. You're always going to get hit harder in places like Alaska or Hawaii, but I think the best way to manage it is to have those open conversations with our clients.

I'm a big person about 'fairness,' and it's not fair that these things are out of everyone's control. Still everybody's got to take their piece. But then you have those who are doing the work, and you want quality … you want a certain timeline, and a certain threshold for delivery. But consider then that you're still only going to pay them like $6 because it’s “the allowable?" Fixing the supply chain may significantly help.

People are leaving parts of this industry to go be Amazon drivers because Amazon will pay you so much more. Strategy? Why not blend with Amazon? Let's say you're driving to drop off a package at 123 Main Street, and 125 Main Street is delinquent 30 days. Could you just snap a picture as you're driving by and kill two birds with one stone? Synergies like that is something that people should consider. We laugh about it, but maybe those Amazon drivers have the right idea!

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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