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19th Annual Five Star Conference Launches in Dallas

Jason Thiele, Fannie Mae’s Director of REO Repairs & Pre-Foreclosure Property Preservation, delivers his Keynote Address: "State of the REO Market" during the FORCE Rally

The Five Star Conference and Expo 2022 opened Sunday in Dallas at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, getting underway with the FORCE Membership Group’s New Member Mixer, welcoming agents and brokers new to the FORCE. The FORCE Advisory Council was available to meet and greet these new members, and network in-person to discuss the state of the REO market and what lies ahead.

The afternoon’s FORCE Rally presented relevant content and exclusive insight, designed for attendees to take their business to the next level amidst the current economic landscape.

James Hastings, President of Hastings Brokerage, Ltd. and Chairman of the FORCE, welcomed attendees to the FORCE Rally, and provided an overview of the afternoon’s agenda. Hastings has specialized in helping mortgage servicers and residential real estate portfolio managers with their complete REO process since 1984, and has closed more than $1 billion in residential REO.

Hastings welcomed Jason Thiele, Fannie Mae’s Director of REO Repairs & Pre-Foreclosure Property Preservation, to deliver his Keynote Address: State of the REO Market.

“Repairs are a big hotspot right now because that determines your income,” said Thiele. “Right now, the average agent can make $1.60 on every dollar spent. And as the market changes to a very, very strong buyers market, repairs will become very important going forward.”

Following the Keynote, a panel of experts discussed foreclosure trends and provided insights into foreclosure processes and best practices at the “The Flow of Foreclosures” session. Steven Pagano, Broker with First Hawaiian Realty; Rick Sharga, EVP, Market Intelligence with ATTOM; and Nolan Turner, Managing Director with Carrington Holding Company LLC discussed current changes in foreclosure volumes and how these changes will impact business.

“I don’t think we are looking at a big wave of foreclosures, but we should return to normal around August of next year.” Sharga noted.

Hastings returned to the stage, this time joined by Rande Johnsen, Manager of Trustee Corps for the “The Most Interesting Man in the Industry” session. Johnsen is a 35-plus-year veteran of the foreclosure, trustee, escrow, and title industries. Beginning with flagship company Trustee Corps, which he founded in 1992, his group of businesses includes title and escrow services and has emerged as a leader in the auction sale to service clients in most western where non-judicial foreclosures are concerned.

When asked what type of loans are being foreclosed on right now and what he thinks is next, Johnsen responded: Right now, we’re working off inventory from two plus years ago. We still have people on forbearance plans and modification plans. But It’s primarily starting with reverse mortgages. 

Asset managers have been hit particularly hard over the past two-and-a-half years, and the “Everything Asset Management,” covered how to become the best REO agent possible—from initial assignment to repairs and closing. Gregory Jacovini, COO of Pro Capital; Andrew Oliverson, VP of REO for Homegenius; and Aaron Zweig, REO Asset Manager for Fannie Mae shared their thoughts on the state of REO.

Jacovini serves as COO of Pro Capital, while Oliverson is VP of REO at Homegenius, a division at Radian. He brings more than 17 years of experience in REO asset management to his role, having in the mortgage finance space in 2003 at Fairbanks Capital. Zweig has more than 20 years of default services management, 15 of which has been in REO asset management. He joined Fannie Mae in 2010, where he has worked all different types of REO portfolios including, traditional vacant asset, tenant occupied, “high touch” portfolio loans, and auction. Prior to joining the GSE, Aaron worked at Countrywide, as a pre-foreclosure specialist/team lead, and GMAC Finance as a team lead.

“One of the things I look for in an agent is someone who is not just looking to list the property and get rich. Anyone can do that.,” Jacovini said. “Frankly, if that’s what you’re promoting as something you offer, you are setting yourself up for failure. There are things that we can’t do without eyes and ears on the local market and that’s the service you can provide that no one can ever replace.”

And while some REO inventories remain low, many different opportunities remain for business. For instance, HUD is running 11% default on their current portfolio of loans, and you can hear directly from one of their few outsourcers. The Force Rally presented the “Government REO Opportunities” panel, offering perspectives from reps who handle USDA REO and VA REO. Laura Dietz, Broker/Owner of Summit Realty Group Inc.; Labrescia Dawson, CEO of Dawson's Realty & Mortgages; Tiffany Fletcher, SVP of VRM Mortgage Services; and Machelle Redmon, Principal at Raine & Company shared their experiences with the audience, offering solutions and options to keeping pipelines full.

Machelle Redmon, Tiffany Fletcher, and Labrescia Dawson discuss government REO opportunities during the 2022 FORCE Rally

“It’s really hard to break into government contracting, and I do understand that, but there’s a reason why it’s hard to break into government contracting because it’s a whole new world,” said Redmon.” We speak in acronyms. We just do things differently because it’s done in the real world and you need to understand that there is a lot of paperwork and certain things need to be done.”

When asked about the qualifications a potential new agent might need, Dawson said that all that is needed in a new agent is the drive to work.

“So basically I like new agents because someone gave me a chance back in the day,” said Dawson. “Had they not given me the opportunity, I would not be here today, so I love taking chances on people.”

And with a number of the industry’s top experts in one room, those in attendance had the opportunity to pick the brains of these individuals during the “Ask Them Anything: Q&A With the FORCE Advisory Council” portion of the Rally. The FORCE Advisory Council is tasked with expanding FORCE’s influence guiding all members in forging productive and meaningful relationships with lenders, servicers, REO and distressed asset management companies, and investors.

Members of the FORCE Advisory Council field questions during the “Ask Them Anything: Q&A With the The FORCE Advisory Council" session

Moderated by Gina Gallutia, Executive Director, Membership for the Five Star Institute, seven Advisory Council members took the stage to address the concerns of those present.

Dietz, Hastings and Pagano were joined by Thomas Bohlmann of Bohlmann & Bohlmann LLC; Sarah Richards of Spring Mountain Realty PLLC; and Jeff Russell of Russell Realty Group|eXp Realty, fielding inquiries on a number of topics related to the REO space.

The moderator started the panel off by asking the most frequently asked question they received from audience submissions: “When are the listings coming and what are the signs?”

“I believe that we will have increased foreclosure in America into 2026,” noted Hastings. “When you look at the data, it should not be a surprise, so I think we’re going to have a good five years.”

Hastings closed the day out saying, “Thank you so much for coming, hopefully this was beneficial to your career and your lives. If you guys think of other ideas that you want us to do, let us know so we can include it next year. Remember, we are better, together.”

The FORCE Rally Reception closed out the 2022 FORCE Rally, segueing into the Opening Night Reception, presented by Auction.com, affording the opportunity to connect with professionals, clients, and potential new partners under one roof at Monduel's within the confines of the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

Stay tuned to DS News for continuing coverage of the 2022 Five Star Conference and Expo.

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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