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Experts Advocate Stabilizing Neighborhoods with Short Sales

""Foreclosures are going to go up before they go down,"" according to Craig Nickerson, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust.


Nickerson says estimates put foreclosure tallies at 850,000 this year, as high as 1.5 million in 2013, and then back to the levels we're at today by 2015.

With all these distressed properties potentially making their way to an already stressed marketplace, Nickerson, along with a panel of industry professionals at the inaugural ""MPact Conference"":http://www.thefivestar.com/mpact/ advocated for bulk short sales.

The panel discussion centered around neighborhood stabilization initiatives and HUD's $7 billion program created to facilitate the rehabilitation of properties in communities challenged with high levels of foreclosures and property vacancies â€" aptly named the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

""Foreclosure prevention by itself is not going to [be the] cure"" for the housing crisis, Hala Farid, deputy director of Citigroup's Office of Homeownership Preservation, told those attending the standing-room-only session.

Farid says Citi is devising a procedure where NSP program participants will have access to escalated points of contact to expedite the short sale process in support of neighborhood stabilization efforts.

Francis Martinez Myers, president of Employee Transfer Corporation (ETC) and ETCREO Management, said the industry is ""on the cusp"" of utilizing short sales as a viable means of stabilization, ""but it's not without its challenges,"" she added.


""Lenders have to be aggressive about offering pre-approved listing prices for short sale properties,"" according to Myers. She says having pre-approvals in hand would help facilitate transactions for bulk short sales.

Myers described the size and magnitude of this crisis as unprecedented. ""I feel like we are in a five-alarm fire and we are still negotiating over which kind of garden hose we're going to use … If we're not careful and not aggressive, it's going to be very difficult to get through this,"" she said.

""Holistically we're not doing enough fast enough,"" according to Myers. Just ""selling one house at a time, means 10 years from now we'll still be here having this conversation,"" Myers said.

She spoke of the advantages of tailoring services that are geared toward investors and nonprofit groups to facilitate bulk purchases of short sale properties.

Myers says her organization is working on a pilot initiative which aggregates available short sales in the market, pools together properties meeting investors' and nonprofits' qualifications, and lines them up for inspection.

Tyler Smith, VP of Wells Fargo's REO disposition team, noted that managing investor participation with communities' neighborhood stabilization efforts ""can sometimes be a conflict of interest.""

According to Jerome Devadoss, manager of alternative dispositions for Fannie Mae's REO sales operation, it's important to engage community-minded investors to work alongside local nonprofits toward neighborhood stabilization, whether it's through short sales or any other loss mitigation strategy.

Jim O'Donnell, manager of the West Coast REO Revitalization Program at Chase, says his company is exploring ways to facilitate short sales to nonprofit organizations. Chase is looking to make short sales and distressed portfolios part of its ""First Look"" program.

Short sales are increasingly making their way into the conversation as a practicable solution to support neighborhood stabilization.

Eric Will, senior REO sales director for Freddie Mac's HomeSteps division, said ""knowledge around this [short sale] space is growing. We know it needs to be done.""

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.

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