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REO Forum Closes Out Successful 2023 Five Star Conference

As the Five Star Institute closed out the celebration of its 20th Annual Five Star Conference & Expo in Dallas, a packed house wrapped up the event at the 2023 Five Star REO Forum.

As the economy faces new challenges and fears of a nationwide recession lingers, will the industry witness a return to pre-pandemic REO volumes?

At the 2023 REO Forum, hosted by Altisource, attendees had the opportunity to learn what subject-matter experts believe will happen to REO volumes in the coming months, where will the volume come from, and how will asset managers and other stakeholders preparing for these shifts in the marketplace. The REO Forum featured some of the top minds in the industry sharing critical dialogue regarding unique challenges involving disposition, lead generation, asset management, and listing strategy.

Welcoming attendees to the event was Guild Mortgage's VP of Marketplace Diversity Strategy and American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC) Advisory Council member, Victoria Garcia DeLuca, who kicked off the Forum and outlined the vital topics to be covered during day’s discussions. As VP, Marketplace Diversity Strategy for Guild Mortgage, DeLuca leads the company’s long-term initiatives, promoting minority homeownership and sustaining diversity, equity, and inclusion in lending. DeLuca’s responsibilities include recruiting and retention of minority loan officers, developing new products for minority markets, and serving as a liaison with the GSEs. She leads Guild’s participation in the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA), and also serves on NAHREP’S Corporate Board of Governors and represents Guild Mortgage with the MBA’s “Home for All Pledge,” the industry’s commitment to addressing racial inequities in housing. She previously served as SVP of Federal Savings Bank, where she led a team supporting homeownership within Hispanic and Black communities.

DeLuca welcome the REO Forum’s Keynote Speaker, Keith Reynders-Byars, Director of Vendor Management of VRM Mortgage Services, as he discussed VRMs proactive approach to the current REO cycle, why the company is focusing on local markets, and the next steps the industry must take to survive this REO cycle.

Currently serving as the Director of Vendor Management at VRM Mortgage Services, Reynders-Byars plays a pivotal role in the strategic oversight of third-party relationships encompassing procurement, risk assessment, compliance, and performance management. Throughout his 13-year tenure with VRM Mortgage Services, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership, keen analytical acumen, and a commitment to operational excellence. Prior to VRM Mortgage Services, he served as an Asset Manager and Loss Mitigation Specialist at Fannie Mae.

Following the Keynote Remarks, the first of four panel discussions of the day took place, as Eric Will, REO Senior Director of Freddie Mac, served as Moderator of the “Team REO: Working With Attorneys and Vendors for a Successful Close” panel. A lively exchange between Will and panelists Graham Arceneaux, Managing Attorney with Graham, Arceneaux & Allen LLC; Managing Partner Michelle Gilbert with the Gilbert Garcia Group P.A.; and Stuart Gordan, Managing Partner with McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce LLC focused on the areas of legal concerns in REO space and how to avoid pitfalls. Panelists also discussed what REO agents can do to assist their legal team to better expedite the asset's return to market.

Following panel one, Michael Krein, President of the National REO Brokers Association (NRBA), delivered a Market Update for attendees. Over the course of his career, Krein has personally listed and sold more than 25,000 single-family residential units. Krein was also the owner of numerous multi-office brokerage companies, both independent and franchised, including owning regions for national brands. In addition to his role as President of NRBA, Krein serves as CEO of RIO Software Solutions, provider of RIO Genesis Software, and Managing Partner for House Karma, a digital ecosystem created to facilitate affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods.

Panel two, titled “We Are the World,” focused on networking and connections that are key to the REO industry. A panel of top trade associations that are coming together to improve the mortgage industry, not just through education and connections, but also by building minority homeownership and professional opportunities. Moderator Tai Christensen, President of Arrive Home and Chair of the AMDC, welcomed a panel of guests, including Ivan Choi, Past National Chairman of the Asian Real Estate Association (AREAA); Stephen Lewis, President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB); Peter Park, President of DCT Foundation; and Jason Riveiro, Executive Director of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) shared their top tips for getting engaged with your industry peers, and how to grow business in today’s marketplace.

Panel three, “Widening Your Horizons: Alternate Streams of Revenue,” examined new revenue generation avenues while staying ahead in the default real estate disposition and management space. Moderator Rida Sharaf, CSO of USRES and a panel of experts discussed potential new revenue streams, and how to secure a thriving future in the real estate industry. Panelists included Alecia Bolton, Fund Manager with Eleos Capital Group; Christian Etienne, REO Operations with Celink; Michael Friedman, Managing Partner with Lending Direct Mortgage Banker; and Amy Stavin, Director of REO Asset Management with PPR Capital Management. The panel dove into the world of diversification strategies, technological advancements, and collaborative partnerships aimed at expanding revenue horizons, and finding creative solutions that went beyond convention to guide business toward success.

The day’s final panel, “Update on Government REOs,” provided valuable insight, opportunities, and advice on the challenges that come with successful ventures. Moderated by Doan Ly Nguyen, Small Business Utilization Specialist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the panel featured insight from Tyler Amaya, Asset Manager from PEMCO Capital; Labrescia Dawson, CEO from Dawson's Management; Tiffany Fletcher, SVP, Support Services from VRM Mortgage Services; Mark Harris, REO Director from HUD; and Marcia Toms, CEO from LCA Holdings RE LLC. The group shared their experiences on how REO agents can benefit from seeking government contracts.

Plans are already underway for the 2024 installment of the Five Star Conference & Expo with plans to include yet another forum for REO professionals to exchange their ideas and insight to help better the industry.


Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed the sale of "more than 25,000 single-family rental units" to Michael Krein of NRBA. The story has been corrected to read "more than 25,000 single-family residential units."

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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