Earl Cummings believes the future of the field servicing industry needs to be rooted in mobile technology. Image: ThinkStock
Earl Cummings believes the future of the field servicing industry needs to be rooted in mobile technology. Image: ThinkStock

Move Needs to Be Made from Modem to Mobile

DEC 14, 2012 12:12pm ET

REO field servicers and asset managers are weighed down in time consuming processes, and often, processes that cripple the efficiency at which REO management needs to move. The future of this industry needs to be rooted in mobile technology–specifically for servicers and REO asset managers responsible for disposing these properties in a timely and cost effective manner.

There is great opportunity to uncover a secure and reliable transfer of information that will ultimately support the resale percentage of REO properties, increase efficiencies and encourage advanced risk management.

The movement of a property from loss mitigation to foreclosure and REO is a time-sensitive progression that hinges on the effective collection and use of information.  Some conventional methods currently used contribute to the overall risk profile of a property and negatively impact value. This makes real-time access a very valuable card to have in your wallet. Mobile technology adoption would transform the day-to-day activities of many in the industry and promote faster turnaround and holding times for homes in REO management.

In a time where integrity of data is more important than ever, mobile technology allows for greater control and monitoring to ensure that time value is increased and costs decreased. These benefits are in turn passed directly on to the client.

The technology to support this initiative is available; it’s up to REO asset management companies to promote adoption and innovation within this niche of the financial services industry in order to benefit the multiple parties involved with REO properties: default servicers, field personnel, appraisers, asset managers and consumers.

Accessibility and efficiency are huge motivators to rapid adoption, but there are specific, practical implementations for the loss mitigation and REO management industry to take advantage of in mobile technology:

Apps in the Field

For real estate agents and property inspectors alike, their time is the most valuable product they control. Mobile technology is particularly geared for this field personnel use. Time typically spent gathering data, uploading photos and conducting inspections would drop dramatically with the availability of the usual desktop tools while on location. Additionally, inspectors could receive and accept new assignments while out in the field, with mapping information and driving directions if necessary. This more effective use of time results in a reduction in fuel costs and a higher volume of inspections conducted than ever before. This real time transfer of information results in a cost savings by volume discount, which can be passed directly on to the client.

The conventional process of inspecting a property is extremely manually intensive. While on site, an inspector needs to input information into a report, while producing several date and time stamped photos delivered via specific forms to the client. Protecting the integrity of this data almost dictates the need for an evolved process. Introducing a mobile method will allow the inspector to integrate both photos and inspection report data into an app through a certified third party’s date and time stamps with GPS information included. This is a much higher level of accountability, and one that ensures data is accurately managed and controlled.

Apps for Appraisers

There has been an exponential increase in the availability of mobile applications allowing appraisers to locate data such as comparable listings and sales while completing appraisals. While they reap the same benefits field personnel see with ordering and accepting assignments, the latest GPS-enabled appraisal support apps allow access to the very best data in an area. This gives appraisers the opportunity to map out and work virtually while collecting data, pictures and property specifics used in valuing each assigned property.  

Make it Secure 

Innovative mobile applications have eliminated the need to rely on conventional, often insecure methods of REO property management. Today, no less than six different parties will need access to a property once it is in REO management. A simple, physical sign-in sheet is used to track access, often with detrimental results. Because of this high-traffic, loosely-monitored (and old-fashioned) procedure, there is an increased likelihood of incidents occurring at the home, such as opportunistic vandalism and theft.

Modern approaches to this problem have made signing in and out of a property as easy as taking a picture. QR codes located in strategic parts of the property enable field personnel and appraisers the ability to accurately document their arrival and departure time. This method is essentially using global positioning to monitor time and location of each real estate agent, inspector and appraiser involved. This level of oversight contributes significantly to managing loss and maintaining integrity of both the personnel and data associated with each property.

Mobile innovation and adoption would drive the industry towards a leaner, more efficient and effective means of managing REO properties. The technology is at our fingertips and would solve a collective need from originators down the line to servicers and consumers. Modern REO management demands innovation–it’s time to take the process off the desktop and into the mobile world.

Earl Cummings is president and CEO for BestAssets, a nationwide REO management company based in Sugar Land, Texas.

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