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FORCE Summit Offers Education, Insights Into State of Industry

The state of the real estate industry, the nuances of the servicing businesses, and government issues were all discussed at the Five Star FORCE Summit Tuesday, part of the Five Star Virtual Conference.

The Summit began with the State of Real Estate keynote, with First American Corporation Chief Economist Market Fleming discussing the current state of the residential real estate market, price trends, forbearances, and the impact of current events on the REO market.

Following the economic update, summit attendees learned some of the essential basics of the business, including education, training, and certifications that enable one to excel. Partnerships with REO companies was also discussed.

“It’s important for agents to foster relationships with different people,” said Jacquelyn Pardue, Head of Procurement, LoanCare. “The more positive you can be with those people, the more likely they are to respond to you; the more likely they are to refer you somewhere else that could better answer your questions if they’re not the right person.”

The business operates on 30-day cycles, Pardue added. So it’s important to build relationships when actual business activity is slow.

Industry experts followed that session with an in-depth overview and timeline for managing REO properties to provide a better understanding of how one’s role as an agent comes into play.

Knowledge of government policies is essential for the success of the business, so the final event of the day included in-depth discussions of how to negotiate the regulatory maze, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

“The communication from our government partners is so much better now than it was in the 2007-2008 period,” said John Dunnery, VP, Government Loan Servicing, Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, adding that not everything affecting real estate is related to the pandemic – like the hurricane that recently came through the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are dealing with other things as well,” Dunnery said. “One is the FHFA announcement around the refinance surcharge in order to increase revenue for the GSEs for refinances. That was a surprise to the industry. I don’t think anybody expected to see that for several reasons: Property values are now high; people have several ways to exit the property; we don’t have adverse market conditions other than that there are too few homes for buyers who may want to get into home ownership.”

To deal with the crunch of forbearances, some had recommended looked at auto-enrollment, but some may borrowers may not need forbearance, said Jim Scott, SVP of Default, LoanCare, LLC, a company that has helped 155,000 with forbearance during the current COVID-19-related financial crisis. “It’s important that you have conversations with borrowers to learn what actually has occurred, what are those impacts and how we can assist them. At LoanCare we’ve opened up our website and our virtual response unit to allow borrowers to self-service.”

The GSEs had to rise to the challenge presented by the economic fallout of the pandemic, said Jake Williamson, VP, Single-Family Collateral Risk Management, Fannie Mae. “As of a couple of weeks ago, we produced over 40 lender letters for selling, collateral and servicing policy changes to respond to the crisis. All of that has been done in about five months. In normal times, that’s about two years worth of work. Not only has that been diligent work by Fannie Mae, but also many industry participants, servicers, appraisers have made Herculean efforts.”

Williamson added that the market remains strong for REO properties.

You can see all our Five Star Virtual Conference coverage by clicking here.

About Author: Phil Britt

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Phil Britt started covering mortgages and other financial services matters for a suburban Chicago newspaper in the mid-1980s before joining Savings Institutions magazine in 1992. When the publication moved its offices to Washington, D.C., in 1993, he started his own editorial services room and continued to cover mortgages, other financial services subjects, and technology for a variety of websites and publications.
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