This year’s National Property Preservation Conference featured keynote speaker Dror Oppenheimer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Dana Wade. Oppenheimer, in the words of the conference moderators, “Provides expert advice… on the management of the FHA’s $1.3 trillion insurance portfolio of single-family mortgages, including asset management strategies, process improvement and technology implementation … "
Oppenheimer began his address by outlining some of the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) initial responses to the COVID-19 crisis:
The FHA immediately put in place temporary provisions to minimize in-person contact between servicers and borrowers; it implemented the provisions of the CARES Act and it implemented functionality in its FHA Catalyst platform, the new FHA tech outlined in DS News’ October cover story.
“With widespread support from the industry we've used appropriations from Congress to build out the [Catalyst] platform,” he said. “It allowed us to quickly deploy new technology solutions to meet the constraints of doing new business during COVID-19.”
He said that the agency has continued to expand FHA Catalyst’s claims module for servicers.
“It started last year with capabilities to electronically submit supplemental claims. And it's since evolved into other claim times, particularly our loss mitigation home retention claim types like our COVID-19 standalone partial claim.”
The COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim is specifically designed to help homeowners with FHA insured mortgages to bring their mortgage payments current and come back to sustainable homeownership post forbearance. It, along with all other FHA home retention options, does not require the borrower to make a lump sum payment.
Other technological advancements are being implemented, he said, and the FHA has a “vision” of further improvement for the “near future.”
“We're committed to continuing this work because it is the cornerstone upon which we can achieve,” he added. “So many of our goals to help FHA continue to serve low- and moderate-income and first-time homebuyers, to ensure that we operate FHA in a safe and sound manner, and to make it efficient for lenders and servicers to do business with us."
He continued to forecast a better future, despite the industry unknowns discussed throughout the conference.