In many ways, investor and mortgage servicer guidelines help to advance best practices in the mortgage field services industry. These guidelines are important to ensure that services performed at vacant and foreclosed properties are completed to uniform quality standards and within the parameters set by each investor or servicer. As the housing industry evolves and changes, so do these requirements.
Recently, investors clarified their focus on the diversity of their vendors, which include field service companies. The clarification refers to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), which requires investors to promote diversity to the extent possible.
This requirement trickles down from the investors to servicers, who will be required to comply by Nov. 1, and then onto field service companies. Field servicers now will be required to report regularly on the diversity of their contractor networks.
Safeguard Properties has tracked the diversity of its vendor network for the past few years. Additionally, it entered into a collaboration with Citi to create the Partnership for Small Business Development.
The goal of the Partnership is to train 400 minority- and women- owned contractors to grow their businesses and become nationally certified to compete for set-aside contracts of large vendors like federal, state, and local governments and large companies. To date, the Partnership has trained 150 minority- and women-owned contractors in two of five sessions planned nationally. Three more sessions are scheduled between now and January 2013.
The two-and-a-half-day training sessions educate Safeguard’s contractors on all aspects of business including marketing, financial management, operations, human resources, managing growth, and getting nationally certified.
In addition, Safeguard’s contractors who attend the training receive a free year of certification from the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc. (NMSDC). The certification helps the contractors qualify for specialized grants or work from large corporations and government entities. This certification also is part of the new requirements from investors.
Field service companies play an important role in helping servicers comply with investor guidelines and following those set by the servicers themselves. A program that helps servicers comply with certification and reporting requirements and helps minority- and women-owned contractors grow their businesses is a win-win solution.