On Monday, the Five Star Conference & Expo kicked off its second day of programming with the annual Legal League 100 Fall Servicer Summit for members, associate members, and mortgage industry professionals which features multiple panels and collaborative discussions regarding regulatory developments, landmark cases, and emerging issues within the housing and mortgage markets.
The subject of the first panel of the morning was foreclosure, where panelists discussed current legal issues and concerns surrounding foreclosure processes since the end of the pandemic. Other topics included GSE/FHA updates, loss mitigation issues, HAF funds, and legislative updates. Moderated by Ryan Bourgeois, General Counsel and Compliance Officer at BDF Law Group, panelists included: Jaime Burgess, VP of Default Servicing, Mr. Cooper; Karin Collins, VP of Foreclosure, Fay Servicing, LLC; Amy Firpo, Foreclosure Team Lead, Gregory Funding, LLC; Michael Merritt, SVP of Mortgage Default Servicing, BOK Financial; and Regina Slowey, Managing Litigation Attorney, Orlans PC.
Prompted with the question, “What are some of the problems you are seeing with loss mitigation?,” Amy Firpo, Foreclosure Team Lead at Gregory Funding said, “We have seen a lot of people get into loss mitigation and then fail to make payments so we are sending demand letters, repeatedly. There are always going to be your section of borrowers who are constantly in default, meaning they make one payment per month, but it’s at such a late stage that they then go into default again, so it’s creating a lot more foreclosure starts for our company to process.
The second panel of the day covered bankruptcy & litigation where national experts discussed what's new in bankruptcy and litigation that is impacting the default servicing industry. Topics included new defensive litigation trends, case law, statutes, and regulations. Audience members learned to navigate the pitfalls and challenges of court actions and how they affect your portfolios in a post-pandemic legal landscape.
Co-moderated by Hilary Bonial, Managing Director at Bonial & Associates, P.C., and David Friedman, Partner at Van Ness Law Firm, PLC, panelists included: Graham Arceneaux, Managing Attorney at Graham, Arceneaux & Allen, LLC; Jane Bond, Managing Partner at McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC; John Crane, Partner & Managing Attorney at Robertson, Anschutz, Schneid, Crane & Partners, PLLC; LeAllen Frost, VP & Associate General Counsel for Mr. Cooper; Beth Northrop-Day, Assistant General Counsel for US Bancorp; and Denise Sletten, Supervisor of Servicing Litigation for PennyMac Loan Services, LLC.
Answering a question from the audience asking about proactively pursuing mediation early in times of high borrower equity, Leallen Frost, VP & Associate General Counsel for Mr. Cooper said, “This is all subject to the default side, but it comes down to what investors will allow. In many cases, you have investors that have to approve the fees and that sort of thing. From a general standpoint, I am very much in favor of that; I have used it multiple times in class-action lawsuits and have found it to be very effective...you may not get it resolved right away, but you learn a lot, particularly if you can exchange information and get a better feel of where both parties are coming from. This moves you along in the case pretty significantly in terms of understanding what the other side really does want, and understanding the gap both parties have to bridge.”
The third panel of the day was simply a market update and discussion where expert panelists talked about current data points, current and expected trends, and other legal and economic matters surrounding the housing and mortgage markets.
Moderated by Chad Neel, the Chief Executive Business Officer at McCarthy Holthus, LLP, panelists included: Marcel Bryar, Founder and Managing Director of Mortgage Policy Advisors, Kenon Chen, EVP of Corporate Strategy at Clear Capital; Daniel Chilton, Partner at Robertson, Anschutz, Schneid, Crane & Partners, PLLC; Rick Sharga, EVP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM; Neil Sherman, Managing Partner at Schneiderman & Sherman, PC; and Nolan Turner, Managing Director at Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC.
On the topic of inflation, Duncan said, “What we are in is a transition to a ‘new paradigm,” Duncan said. “[Fannie Mae] continues in its belief that we have held since this spring that the degree of Fed tightening required to return to a 2% inflation target will result in mild recession beginning in the first quarter of 2023. So if you look at our forecast, you’ll see that our full-year that GDP for the fourth quarter of 2022 0%, or flat growth.”
After a brief lunch, moderators Stephen Hladick took the stage again with Tony Van Ness, Founder & Managing Partner at Van Ness Law Firm, PLLC, and LL100 Advisory Vice Chair, to welcome Brian Montgomery, former Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to the stage for a “fireside chat” where he told anecdotes from notable times in his career as well as current developments and trends.
The final panel of the day was titled “A Conversation with the Investors: Working Together To Assist Consumers as the Economy Changes.” Audience members were invited to join in on discussion with representatives from default servicing law firms, agencies, and GSEs in order to work together to provide all options available to a borrower in default.
Moderated by Roy Diaz, Managing Shareholder at Diaz Anselmo & Associates P.A., panelists included: Rita Falcioni, Supervisor at the Central Office Loan Management at the Department of Veterans Affairs; Benjamin Gottheim, VP of Servicing Policy for Freddie Mac; Stephen Hladik, Partner at Hladik, Onorato & Federman, LLP and LL100 Advisory Chair; Graham Kidner, Associate General Counsel for Fannie Mae; and J. Anthony Van Ness, Founder & Managing Partner at Van Ness Law Firm and LL100 Advisory Vice Chair.
The summit then concluded with some brief closing remarks from Stephen Haldik followed by a private reception. Click here to learn more about the Legal League 100.