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Exploring the State of Property Preservation

IMG_0395-1Ed Delgado, President and CEO of the Five Star Institute, moderated an expert panel on Wednesday at the annual National Property Preservation Conference, hosted by Safeguard Properties. Gathering mortgage industry leaders, servicers, and investors, the conference is an “outlet for all facets of the industry to collaborate on how to best preserve and protect vacant and abandoned properties.”

“For the past 12 years, the National Property Preservation Conference has been the preeminent forum that brings leaders from HUD, the GSEs, mortgage servicing, and field services companies together to focus on solutions for property preservation issues,” Alan Jaffa, CEO of Safeguard Properties told DS News. “Ed’s participation as moderator of a key conference session and his industry expertise have been paramount to the ongoing success of the event.”

The panel, titled “The State of Property Preservation,” included Jaffa as well as Ivery Himes, Director of the Office of Single Family Asset Management for HUD; Caroline Reaves, CEO of Mortgage Contracting Services; Terry Smith, CEO of Rushmore Loan Management Services; James Taylor, SVP of Asset Management and Preservation for Wells Fargo; and Jake Williamson, VP of Single-Family Real Estate Fulfillment for Fannie Mae.

During the panel, the group discussed important topics impacting the property preservation industry such as current conditions impacting the housing market, the industry’s response to the natural disasters that plagued Texas and Florida, current servicing policy, regulatory reform, and more.

Delgado launched the panel by touching on the current state of the marketplace, which is seeing rising home prices and the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years.

In addition, with many communities reeling from recent natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey in Houston and Maria in Puerto Rico, Delgado concluded that property preservation has never had a more crucial role in supporting the housing market.

After giving his own assessment on the state of the market, Delgado turned it over to the panel to hear their thoughts. On the question of if the market will soon see a correction,  Delgado asked Rushmore’s Smith, “Is this the calm before the storm?”

Smith said, “We are on the precipice of another housing cycle.”

To navigate today’s changing landscape, during the panel Taylor advocated for a standardization of servicing rules. Taylor contributed to a recent whitepaper titled “Protecting Consumers and Communities” released by the National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA). Taylor is the Chairman of NMSA’s subcommittee on vacant and abandoned properties where he advocates for addressing the issue of vacant and abandoned properties in regard to instituting policies that standardize procedures, definitions, and best practices.

Overall, the other panelists agreed that general standardization makes sense but called on the industry and federal stakeholders to collaborate to work out the particulars.

Unsurprisingly, in terms of property preservation needs, the discussion quickly turned to the recent hurricanes, and the industry’s response to them. With a significant portion of Rushmore’s servicing portfolio located in Puerto Rico, Smith fielded questions about current conditions on the island. Smith noted that the condition in Puerto Rico goes beyond properties and assets—it’s a humanitarian crisis that we are facing.

Jaffa and Reaves also discussed the practical matters of handling staffing when the foreclosure moratoriums that were put in place after the hurricanes are lifted, and how to issues the process isn’t stymied.

During the the conference, Delgado also introduced Michael Braverman, Department of Housing and Community Development Housing Commissioner for Baltimore and a featured speaker at the event. Braverman has served the city of Baltimore for over 30 years, first as a prosecutor and then rising through the ranks of Code Enforcement.

Other sponsors for the conference included Gold Sponsors Altisource, Mortgage Contracting Services, SecureView, and Xactware; Silver Sponsors MFS Supply and M&M Mortgage Services; and Bronze Sponsors Assurant and Brookstone Management.

For more information about the National Property Preservation Conference, click here.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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