A Day in the Life of an Asset Manager

Organization and multitasking! These are commonly associated with asset managers, who must keep up with the daily rush of responsibilities in the fast-paced business of REO property management.

Many REO asset managers like Maureen Burns of Keystone Asset Management manage their portfolios with a daily list of tasks to be accomplished. Her organizational skills include the use of tasks, which add to her control over the day's events. When it comes to dealing with REO, expecting the unexpected is daily part of the job. Offers being presented are common throughout the day and problems can and do pop up relating to marketing, code issues, evictions, closings - you name it. She must successfully resolve these and other issues in a timely manner while completing the daily tasks associated with her portfolio.

Ms. Burns has worked in the mortgage industry for a total of 13 years. When she arrives to work each morning, Ms. Burns joins her co-workers in the break room for her morning coffee before positioning herself at her desk. Inside the Keystone offices, she interacts with the men and women who work in property valuation, pre-marketing, portfolio management, evictions, title and closing.

Everyone in the office is constantly busy checking e-mails, making phone calls, and/or reviewing files in their computer system. Ms. Burns starts each day with approximately 50 e-mails waiting for her. In addition, the computer system reminds her of daily tasks that need to be done. These tasks include checking on price reductions, following up with agents for bids, contracts and monthly marketing reports. Her day has specific obligations over which she keeps strict control. She allows for the unexpected. Not surprisingly, she is consistently on top of each obligation and quickly gets each task accomplished.

"I love my reports," Ms Burns tells Managing REO with a smile. "I continually check for reports to see which properties are coming up for price reduction. It comes here from pre-marketing so we can see what they are doing. Sometimes I can push the pre-marketing team to go faster and get offers on those properties with listing expirations."

In her normal routine, she may communicate with over 50 agents a day. "I make sure the job is done the right way. I have very good interaction with my agents. We call their cell phones, send each other e-mails or fax documentation. Some managers only work through e-mail. I can't do that. I like to use whatever method of communication is best for the agent. Our agents are our eyes and ears."

Keystone deals with properties that range in value anywhere from $1 to over $1 million. Photographic support is important for all files. If repairs are requested for windows or to fix certain problems in the property, the agent must provide photos to support the issues. "I don't want to see just a picture of a chair, I need to see everything in the room. The color of paint, damage on the walls."

After the required break in the day known as lunch, she is back on the phone to contact her agents. Time is allotted for reviewing and submitting bills to reimburse her agents, reconciling BPO values and preparing market plans and offers for her clients to review. All of her clients have different methods and she needs to be able to identify the client and their varying nuances to ensure their work is completed promptly and professionally.

A quick afternoon break comes and goes and Ms. Burns is back at her desk to complete the rest of the day's assignments. "It's a challenge staying on target. You can spend too much time on one task and end up lacking in another area. The whole REO world is timeline driven. We all live by timelines."

Keystone's software system is key to helping Ms. Burns and other asset managers stay on track. Each step must be completed before moving on to the next part in the disposition process. Ms Burns is amazed by the amount of new scenarios to which she is exposed and the changing rules that she needs to stay on top of. "This business is always a learning experience and is never dull." Changing markets have meant an increased workload for all in the industry, which keeps asset managers moving.

Meanwhile, across the office, portfolio manager Jim Jacquelin oversees the file flow, assignments and performances of other asset managers like Ms. Burns. While visiting with him in the conference room at Keystone, Mr. Jacquelin says he expects there will be more and more properties coming down the pike this year. This is due to the fact that more people bought homes they simply couldn't afford. His staff calls upon him during the day to discuss file issues associated with their growing portfolios. He is constantly going over information gathered from staff to assist with training, reviewing and resolving issues that may arise during the day. Meetings are held every day to go over figures and goals with clients to project the current month as well as 30- and 60-day plans. Many of Keystone's clients are given approval authorities for price reductions and offers. With these authorizations come turn rate and timeline expectations. Mr. Jacquelin is responsible for accomplishing and reporting these items back to his clients.

Mr. Jacquelin says the industry observes more high-end homes going into foreclosure and more REO properties being sold to end-users. Keystone has been receiving more REO referrals than ever before. Many of the properties that have been referred are typically in better shape and are often sold to an owner-occupant. Some investors also buy the homes. "Unfortunately, no one is immune to being in foreclosure. These properties aren't just rundown, beat-up homes that are boarded up and filled with trash. We're now seeing nicer properties. REOs are being referred to us from all parts of the country and affect all societal classes. We even have some properties in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico."

From commencement to conclusion, a day in the office is filled with the electricity of hard-working knowledgeable employees who seek creative approaches to the issue of managing and marketing REO.

They apply never-ending energy to the problems of the day, and relish the solutions. They recognize the wearying demands of the job, and so they begin unwinding at 6 p.m. Ms. Burns pauses at Mr. Jacquelin's desk to discuss one last contract before she leaves for the day, which he has approved. It is time to rest. Tomorrow awaits, offering new problems and solutions. (c) 2007 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com