On Tuesday, September 18, The Five Star Conference hosted a series of labs, open to all attendees and aimed at providing strategic insights and industry expertise for housing and mortgage professionals.
The highlight of the day was two appearances by Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States (2001–2009)—first in a keynote conversation with Ed Delgado, President, and CEO of The Five Star Institute at the inaugural Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Lab and then delivering a Keynote at the Women in Housing Leadership Awards Banquet.
During her keynote conversation with Delgado, Mrs. Laura Bush spoke about her work for women’s literacy and rights through the initiatives of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative and their goals along with personal anecdotes on what it was like being The First Lady and her learnings from that time, answering questions as diverse as how she took criticism in her stride and the winning recipe of a chocolate chip cookie she made during a baking challenge during her time as First Lady.
Discussions during the D&I lab also included insights into how the market has changed in terms of D&I 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, supplier chain diversity, aligning D&I with business objectives, the current state of D&I in the industry, Freddie Mac’s view on diversity initiatives, and a session on how machine ethics could be utilized to program out implicit biases.
At the REO lab earlier in the day, attendees learned about navigating a challenging REO market as well as the best strategies and solutions for a successful REO business. Eric J. Will, Senior Director, REO Operations, Freddie Mac served as Lab Director.
During this lab, experts discussed recent vendor management changes and what today’s vendors are looking for in an agent/broker partnership. In an REO market update, the panel examined how the management of REO assets had changed from a volume play to a more boutique approach and the impact reverse mortgages may have on the REO market going forward. Attendees to this lab also received an update from Fannie Mae on the latest GSE news for REO professionals who work with the organizations as well as more information on loss mitigation efforts, preferred disposition strategies, and upcoming projects at the GSE.
Karen Mastro, SVP, Servicing Operations Manager, Rushmore Loan Management Services LLC led the third lab of the day—the Foreclosure Lab—that offered strategies required for seamless operations and premium services for smart foreclosure administration practices.
The session began with an overview by Mark McArdle, Assistant Director, Mortgage Markets, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) on how the BCFP fits into the modern landscape of foreclosures and what lenders and servicers could do to streamline their interactions with the bureau.
A panel discussion on property maintenance during foreclosure also gave insights into its often overlooked aspects such as occupancy certificates to cure violations, permit issues in various municipalities, and determining vacancy of a foreclosed property.
The lab also discussed pertinent topics such as charge-off policies from the GSEs, dealing with foreclosures for HOAs and Condo Associations, and how servicers could stay updated with rules and regulations in foreclosures.