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Fighting Blight

As we say good-bye to 2017 and we set our sights on 2018 and beyond there are always a number of articles on predictions for the New Year and trends that will be taking place. This not only occurs on a grand consumer scale, but also in niche industries such as asset and default management.

In 2017 we experienced historically low foreclosure rates with many industry experts predicting those levels to remain pretty constant in 2018. With so much talk and articles being written about foreclosures reaching historical lows, many people falsely believe that our work is done. This is one thought and trend that could not be further from the truth.

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Foreclosures are still taking place, individuals are struggling to pay their taxes, and communities are forced to deal with vacant properties and the negative impact they have on our communities. Yes, we have come a long way over the past couple of years- but our work in helping restore communities is far from over.

Blight is real and continues to plague communities nationwide. Municipalities across the country are working to turn the page on the housing market collapse and address the ongoing concerns of community blight. The negative impact has been well documented that blight has on communities. These include: abandoned buildings and vacant properties, which create opportunities for crime, violence, drugs and other illegal activity.

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Blight has additional adverse effects on communities besides crime, such as a decline in property values, lower tax base and heavy burdens on the resources of municipalities. These challenges are real and will not go away just because foreclosures are declining.

The goal in 2018 is to make these communities Safe, Sound and Secure. It starts by helping to restore these communities one property at a time. To accomplish this, there needs to be collaboration amongst mortgage servicers, municipalities, local governments, policymakers, state and federal regulators, contractors and vendors who have boots on the ground and the individuals living in these neighborhoods.

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It is clear that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to blight doesn’t work. There are some over-arching strategies such as clear boarding, improved vacant property registration, and new regulations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that can be applied across the country to help reduce blight.

The key to successfully fighting blight is collaboration between the parties listed above to create individualized community programs- that increase awareness of blight, leverage skills and expertise, and pull together resources for the common good.

As we close out 2017 and prepare for 2018, let’s not forget that there is still a great need to come together to fight and eliminate blight in our communities.

About The Author

Nickie Badalamenti-Kalas

Nickie Badalamenti-Kalas is president at Five Brothers. She works directly with Five Brothers CEO, Joe Bada, to oversee the daily operations and long term strategic vision of Five Brothers. A dynamic entrepreneur, business leader, and skilled executive who brings leadership, insight, and new strategies that drive customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and profitability.

Helping Servicers Thrive

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Last month, Nickie Badalamenti-Kalas, President at Five Brothers, said that the servicing market has changed significantly since the mortgage market imploded in the mid-2000s where we saw dramatic increases in loan defaults and foreclosure volumes. These heightened volumes impacted servicers and those companies handling default services, property preservation and REO disposition. While REO, short-sales and foreclosures have existed for quite some time, the sudden influx of foreclosures and rapidly expanding REO inventories lead to significant growth opportunities in a sector that traditionally flew under the radar. So, how can mortgage servicers be successful? Here’s what Badalamenti-Kalas said about that to our editor:

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Q: What are the key trends and most pressing issues facing servicers as it relates to asset management and field services?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: We are seeing legislation that has an impact on our industry, and the methods in which we are able to reasonably protect and preserve the collateral investment associated with home loans.

The mortgage industry continues to adjust to new and ever-changing regulatory demands, which is becoming increasingly more complex. This is especially true for servicers and asset management companies tirelessly working to compliantly protect their assets.

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With the influx of new rules and regulations, property preservation is not just about securing a property or boarding up a window; it is about preserving the look and overall values of neighborhood properties as if it were your own.

Q: In addition to those mentioned, do you see other important regulatory issues on the horizon?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: There has been legislation implemented in June, 2016 that applies to first lien mortgage holders and loan servicers regarding inspections, securing and maintaining with a $500 daily penalty for failure to follow the statute.

Q: How is technology helping to improve results for today’s mortgage servicers?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: Technology has made significant advances in our ability to deliver reliable, repeatable and accurate data. Together with advances in our ability to train vendors in the field, manage subcontractors with proof of service, geo-mapping and the ability to provide data immediately from the field. Technology reduces processing time and allows for controls to be implemented.

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Servicers have to adapt to this new regulatory environment by finding innovative ways to do the important work of protecting and maintaining assets. Investors today demand transparency. To provide this degree of information, asset management providers must deliver innovative technology solutions that ease the burden of the field service representative while delivering in-depth information to the investors.

Q: How is technology helping servicers handle the influx of new rules and regulations?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: Technology can be an organizational tool, a training tool and a method in which property preservation companies can automate redundant tasks. Additionally, technology offers the opportunity to manage a myriad of rules and regulations that are specific to the findings at a particular property.

Q: What are the most pressing issues the industry is facing in preserving and maintaining properties?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: Risk mitigation is a key issue today. There has been great deal of media focus associated with the removal of personals, and the perception that property preservation vendors and banks/ sub-servicers are somehow complicit in breaking into homes and removing personal property. We all know there are a variety of circumstances that contribute to making a reasonable judgment call that a property has become vacant. However, we are seeing the judicial system weigh in. In Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, the state of Washington Supreme Court on July 7, 2016, held that entering and securing a property before foreclosure completion by changing the locks constitutes “taking possession” in violation of Washington State law.

Q: How can Servicers and field services companies work together to address these market conditions?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: There is a general consensus that servicers together with field service companies need to take a more aggressive position while the property is in presale. A more robust approach is believed to reduce the need for more costly repairs down the line, diminish code violations and preserve curb appeal and property value.

A declining market with great pressure to comply and fewer resources mandate a need for collaboration within the industry.   The real answer is a collective effort to devise solutions.

Servicers and asset management companies need to come together to leverage each other’s expertise in a highly collaborative way. One that allows the servicers to meet constantly changing investor and regulatory demands while partnering with the preservation companies to deliver compliant field services in a timely and accurate manner. That’s where collaboration is key.

Q: What should servicers be looking for in an asset management provider?

NICKIE BADALAMENTI-KALAS: First, providers must have a vast vendor network that has the depth and scope of coverage to be provide quality results while adhering to timeline expectations. Reliable data collection that allows for introspective analytics to support industry solutions and providing pre-foreclosure and post-sale services that allow for the preservation of market values and REO asset disposition.

Insider Profile

Nickie Badalamenti-Kalas is president at Five Brothers. She works directly with Five Brothers CEO, Joe Bada, to oversee the daily operations and long term strategic vision of Five Brothers. A dynamic entrepreneur, business leader, and skilled executive who brings leadership, insight, and new strategies that drive customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and profitability.

Industry Predictions

Nickie Badalamenti-Kalas thinks:

1.) A servicer’s ability to maximize assets and minimize risk will continue to be a pressing issue in the year to come.

2.) Technology advances will enhance our ability to deliver reliable, repeatable and accurate data.

3.) Servicers and asset management companies will need to continue to come together to leverage each other’s expertise in a highly collaborative way to address today’s most challenging issues.