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Delgado Calls for National Solutions on ‘Vacant Home Epidemic’

11-16 Ed Delgado

Ed Delgado

The Five Star Institute had a strong presence at the 12th Annual National Property Preservation Conference (NPPC), which began Monday in Washington, D.C. Five Star President and CEO Ed Delgado presented the opening remarks for the event on Monday morning and moderated two panel discussions on Monday, a State of the Industry discussion and a panel focused on Transforming Blighted Communities.

Delgado spoke on the growing crisis of vacant and abandoned properties that is sweeping the country. These properties, called "zombie foreclosures" because the owner has abandoned the property but the foreclosure process is not yet complete, are often a drag on the communities in which they are located because they potentially lead to lower property values as well as more blight in the surrounding areas, vandalism, squatting, and violent crime. Delgado called for national solutions for what he termed the "vacant home epidemic" and praised the recently-passed Ohio State Bill H.B. 134, which expedites the foreclosure process and lowers the amount of time that a property is vacant, as “an important template towards the introduction of a national course of solution for vacant and abandoned properties.” He also called on the Obama Administration to redeploy some of the billions of dollars in fines it has collected from various financial institutions into blighted communities that have suffered from years of urban deterioration.

At the NPPC, leaders from HUD, the GSEs, mortgage servicers, and field services companies gathered at the Mayflower Renaissance hotel to collaborate on the best practices for preserving and protecting vacant and abandoned residential properties. In his opening remarks, Delgado called for balance and a common sense approach to regulation regard to the mortgage industry.

Following the opening remarks, Delgado introduced a keynote address by Fannie Mae SVP and Chief Economist Doug Duncan, who noted that the economy in the United States was on the “wrong track” based on results gathered from a recent Fannie Mae survey.

A panel moderated by Delgado discussed the “State of the Industry” on Monday morning and included Michael J. Frueh, Loan Guaranty Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Ivery Himes, Director, Office of Single-Family Asset Management at HUD; Benjamin Gottheim, Director of Mortgage Servicing Policy, Freddie Mac; Mark McArdle, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Financial Stability, U.S. Department of Treasury; Caroline Reaves, CEO, Mortgage Contracting Services; and Alan Jaffa, CEO, Safeguard Properties.

Experts on the panel presented a high-level overview of the most current issues in mortgage servicing, including the declining homeownership rate, finding the balance between expanding credit access and mitigating risk, dwindling REO inventory, VA loans, the government’s Making Home Affordable Program, Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down payments, the lengthy foreclosure process, technology in property preservation, regulations such as Section 342 of Dodd-Frank that stress diversity and inclusion, compliance, and servicing best practices.

On Monday afternoon, Delgado moderated another panel on “Transforming Blighted Communities.” That panel included Robert Klein, Chairman and Co-Founder of SecureView, Chairman and Founder of Safeguard Properties; Richard Monocchio, Executive Director, Cook County Housing Authority; Honorable Mark Pryor, Partner, Venable LLP and former U.S. Senator (D-Arkansas); and Jim Taylor, SVP of Asset Management and Property Preservation, Wells Fargo. This panel of experts discussed best practices for solving neighborhood blight issues, including the hidden cost of blight and finding sustainable solutions for building communities.

On Tuesday, the second day of the NPPC, legendary football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz is scheduled to deliver an address. Tuesday is also scheduled to feature a panel discussion on new property preservation guidelines.

Editor’s note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of DS News and DSNews.com.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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