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Five Star Labs Spotlight Servicing, Government, Property Management Experts

Baker Breedlove, Jacob Williamson, Daren Blomquist, and Thomas O'Connell take part in the "Off the Books: Disposition Strategies" panel discussion

On Monday, the 2022 Five Star Conference continued with a full line-up of programming that included both the Property Management Lab and the Servicing & Compliance Lab. Subject-matter experts gathered for a day full of panels, presentations, and insights for the gathered audience of industry professionals,

The morning began with the Property Management Lab, presented by Host sponsor Insight One Solutions; Co-Host sponsor Guardian Asset Management; and Partner sponsor Aspen Grove Solutions. Lab Director Jodi Gaines, Chief Client Officer and EVP of Business Development and Government Relations for Insight One Solutions, served as MC for the day, kicking off a day of panel discussions that included topics such as "No Business Like Home Business: Best Practices and Current Prop Pres Challenges," "Around the Nation: State & Local Updates," and "Off the Books: Disposition Strategies."

Speakers included representatives of Insight One, Auction.com, EarthvisionZ, Fannie Mae, Global Strategic, JGM Property Group, Mortgage Specialists International, M&T Bank, Planet Home Lending, Safeguard Properties, and US Bank.

The Property Management Lab began with a intro by Jodi Gaines, Chief Client Officer and EVP of Business Development and Government Relations, Insight One Solutions, who welcomed participants in the “No Business Like Home Business: Best Practices and Current Prop Pres Challenges” panel.

“The last thing you want to see is someone struggling and they are living on the property you own,” said Timika Scott, SVP, Recovery & Loss Prevention for US Bank.

One of the byproducts of the pandemic was a refining of company teams and the importance of quality talent retention in today’s market.

Mike Greenbaum, COO of Safeguard Properties, added, “As volume comes down, you have to make sure the talent can navigate you through various situations.”

Kellie Chambers, Chip Nolan, Mike Greenbaum, David Lightfritz, and Timika Scott participate in the "No Business Like Home Business: Best Practices and Current Prop Pres Challenges"

Chip Nolan, VP, Property Preservation for M&T Bank. agreed that talent retention is key as well.

“Focus on retaining your top talent,” said Nolan.

Rudy Casanova, CRO of Global Strategic served as moderator for the second panel discussion, a general state of the industry update, “Around the Nation: State & Local Updates.” Panelists discussed general trends in the REO space, from climate control to technology.

“We are seeing more extreme disasters and weather events than normal,” said Elizabeth Squires, AVP Client Account Management for Safeguard Properties on the state of climate control. “Has an inconsistent path, need to get boots on the ground in those areas.”

“When any disasters occur, work from the epicenter out,” added Brandon Kirkham, COO of JGM Property Group on the impact of the climate on properties nationwide. “Focus your resources on the epicenter of the problem. It’s not where the rain happened, but how the infrastructure handled it.”

Brian Flaherty, COO of Global Strategic weighed in on a few hot-button topics.

“One stroke of the pen can change your operations,” said Flaherty of legislative and regulatory concerns of servicers today.

In terms of technology, Flaherty shared his thoughts on what may lie ahead.

“We may see drones start to come into the property preservation space,” commented Flaherty. “It’s unsafe to knock on certain doors, so the industry may adopt this technology in the future.”

Moderator Rudy Casanova, Brian Flaherty, Brandon Kirkham, Jeff Schott, and Elizabeth Squires discuss the latest in property preservation during the "Around the Nation: State & Local Updates" panel

Closing out the Property Management Lab was the “Off the Books: Disposition Strategies” panel, led by moderator Baker Breedlove, President & CEO of MSI, discussing topics related to disposition strategies, from auctions to backlogs, fix-and-flip, supply chain challenges, and impacts on the nation's affordable housing stock.

“Foreclosure starts are beginning to spike,” noted Daren Blomquist, VP of Market Economics for Auction.com. “We are also not seeing many institutional investors in the distressed sales space right now.”

In dealing with the topic of affordability, Breedlove noted, “We must continue to come up with creative solutions to difficult problems.”

Thomas O'Connell, SVP of Default Servicing for Planet Home Lending, added, “Look at your inventory and put some work into it to be able to sell to the retail market.”

In the afternoon, conference staple the Servicing & Compliance Lab kicked off, presented by Host sponsors Incenter and Xome, as well as Co-Host sponsors National General Lender Services, Sagent, and SitusAMC. The Lab was MC'ed by Co-Directors Sean Cooke, VP, National Sales, Boston National Title Agency, and Reg Shepherd, Executive Principal, Client Relations, Xome.

The Lab began with a conversation with FHFA Director Sandra Thompson, moderated by Five Star Chairman Ed Delgado.

When asked about how FHFA can help promote and expand American homeownership, Director Thompson said, “There isn't a ‘right’ percentage of homeownership, because not everyone wants to own a home. But for those that do, there should be no barriers for entry … I do think we should take the lessons learned from the Great Recession and the pandemic and take a look at responsible lending, sustainable lending. It's not just important to get people into houses, but to keep them in the house.”

Fannie Mae Chief Economist Douglas Duncan also presented an Economic Update, during which he provided a brief economic update, tapping into his work with Fannie's Economic & Strategic Research Group.

On the topic of inflation, “We are in 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.”

The Lab then continued with panels entitled "A Firm Foundation: Mortgage Servicing in a Transitional Period," "By the Book: Government Perspectives & Insights," and "Servicing Tech: Innovation by Necessity." Featured speakers during these panels included executives from Aspen Grove Solutions; Auction.com; the CFPB; Colonial Savings; Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Mortgage Policy Advisors, LLC; Mr. Cooper; OrangeGrid; Rushmore Loan Management Services LLC; Selene Finance; ServiceLink; SitusAMC; and USRES/RES.NET.

“I think [unemployment] the elephant-in-the-room as this economy cools,” said Kevin Osuna, EVP of Mortgage Servicing for Rushmore Management Services, LLC during the "A Firm Foundation: Mortgage Servicing in a Transitional Period" panel. “Where does unemployment go? What are your solutions to address that now that the option of forbearance has already been used.”

“What we’ve been seeing recently is a lot of people having exploratory meetings to talk about what [future] solutions may be,” said Rida Sharaf, CSO of USRES/RES.NET during the “Servicing Tech: Innovation by Necessity” panel. “I think one of the most important things is to have some level of established workflow, which can be augmented by the client coming in. It’s a kind of game plan that is going to accommodate the process so it can be changed a little bit.”

Editor's note: this story is being updated with further quotes.

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].

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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