Vendor Keeps Enhancing REO, Data Management System

Whether users call it a one-stop shop, bounded services or component servicing, vendors are racing to leverage easy-to-use technology that can be constantly updated with new tools capable to help manage the mortgage servicing process and enhance the resale value of distressed properties.

“It is becoming much harder” for lenders and servicers to manage the still-increasing number for real estate owned properties on the market, said Eric Lichtenheld, president of Integra Group Real Estate of Tucson, Ariz.

To alleviate that burden many mortgage banks, despite their size, are more and more depending on third-party service providers to reduce the time a property is on the market. According to Lichtenheld, these bank clients are always shopping for efficient REO management that allows them to increase the value of these assets “by making a home FHA financeable.”

The recently updated Home Affordable Refinance Program increases refinancing opportunities for the owners of properties “underwater” or in distress. Since REO management remains a challenge for banks, the brokerage firm specializing in the marketing and sale of FHA backed distressed properties in Southern Arizona, continues to enhance its processing capabilities. It added Integra Process, which executives said is designed to increase the overall quality of property listings. It updates the firm’s existing back office technology used to enhance the traditional brokerage process for mortgage lenders, banks and government-sponsored enterprises through a transparent process.

Features include the ability to trail and audit property preservation efforts and access to current property photos, inspection logs and portfolios. Users can structure the program features following very specific requirements, and use fleet tracking units to verify weekly property visits or other routine inspections, which in turn help expedite REO processing requirements and allow REO managers to oversee a larger volume of properties.

Lichtenheld says the tool helps examine each property details to ensure its compliance with preservation requirements and adherence to FHA guidelines. The new approach has reduced the overall holding time of assets by anywhere form 20% to 30%, he said, turning “REO, investor and cash properties into owner-occupant sales.”  

The new tool expands the firm’s ability to focus on the management, preservation and marketing of distressed properties in addition to evaluation, counseling, relocation and sales assistance to mortgage lenders, banks and GSEs. It also uses Integra’s Close of Escrow follow-up system to ensure periodic delivery of property data using automatic email reminders of necessary steps to real estate agents.

Integra Group uses a paperless workflow system that secures data integrity with four backup servers and automatic archiving. Users also have access to an in-house locksmith, which enables the broker to conduct occupancy and personal property verifications at no additional cost.

Data security is important in times when “increased data breaches resulting in costly liabilities,” have become a major concern for businesses, says Sarah Koucky, senior director of security and compliance, at Cintas Corp. of Cincinnati, which designs, manufactures and implements highly specialized document management services.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there have been 327 data breaches and more than 22 million records exposed in the U.S. this year to date, indicating that as business firms use more technology they also need to enhance data protection and risk management.

“Greater regulatory compliance pressures” also increase the need to employ efficient techniques for securely managing their confidential information, she said.