Counting on Technology
Technology is certainly leading the way in the REO industry, according to Derrick Logan, director of REO Services, REO Allegiance, Inc., a property preservation service company in Bayonne, NJ.
In order to survive, assets managers and vendors need to be able to accommodate multiple platforms which often depend upon the clients existing platform utilized, says Mr. Logan.
"It often sounds complicated but in reality it is fairly simple - once the technology is deployed. This requires the merging of systems and the integration of our multiple client networks."
REO Allegiance is constantly writing and perfecting its system every day, he says.
The company, which also handles eviction moving and clean up, debris removal and winterization, has an in-house programmer to make this happen at a moment's notice.
"Every new client seems to require a phase-in period to accommodate systems and if you do not have the ability or the financial wherewithal it would be impossible to keep up with the industry."
In reality the entire industry seems to be task driven and tasks must be delivered, deciphered and acted upon in the least amount timeframe possible.
This could only be done through technology, Mr. Logan believes.
"We all have technology be it new, existing or old doesn't really matter as much as if the technology that is employed has the flexibility in place to communicate with others on their level," he said.
"In addition the ability to solve problems and communicate issues in real time is essential to the success of a national provider."
He says the challenge is inducting the contractors in the field to embrace new methods of technology to get the information from the field to the company preservation department.
It is then inspected for quality and then the information must be expedited to the client. These timelines must be accomplished faster than ever imagined in the past and time continues to equal money in his business, Mr. Logan said.
"I would venture to say that it is not our technology that makes the difference but our ability to phase up or phase down to what standard of technology that our clients can or cannot deploy on their own. Technology is almost like staying on a honeymoon without ever getting married. The ability to remain flexible today for tomorrow is what works for REO Allegiance Inc."
Photoinspection.com, a Buffalo, New York based company, provides property inspection services for the insurance and mortgage industries.
The company, which was established in 1999, has focused on developing a robust and functional technology platform from the very beginning.
The company has built a national network of inspectors, which was not an easy thing to do for a small company that was surviving on a bootstrap financing, says Ted Onyeji, Photoinspection.com president.
"Today, the company's foresight has put us in a position to compete with well heeled competitors, and our existing clients have continued to benefit from the significant turnaround time and cost savings we provide."
Mr. Onyeji says the network of several thousand appraisers across the country have become the backbone of the company. "We have built a very good repor with them over the years. In combination with technology, it has made things easier for us."
Inspectors are monitored on their first 10 jobs to make sure they comply with industry standards.
"We've noticed a lot of inspection companies are beginning to add inspectors across the country, especially in the areas of Florida and Michigan because of the glut of houses out there."
Photospection.com is looking to increase its client base are far as lenders go to include more real estate owned assets and exterior photos of these properties.
The company presents these photos to the brokers in their negotiations to dispose of the properties. The photos depict the home's current status and condition.
"A few years back during Hurricane Katrina, we did inspections for some of our clients prior to the Hurricanes. There was a repository of photos dealing with the claims," said Mr. Onyeji.
"It showed the condition of how these homes were maintained. With the glut of REOs today, our service can be used in terms of backup in following up on the lawn care, in making sure the lawn care outfits and vendors take care of their job," he said.
"Sometimes a company like ours goes out to the property, takes photos, and sends them to the lender to let them know the lawns are well kept and in good maintenance."
Most asset managers have dozens of horror stories to share about properties that are vandalized by borrowers who have lost them homes to foreclosure.
"I've seen people evacuating their homes who completely destroy the property," he recalls.
"I saw one house where they tore down the balcony. Our guys were there to capture that information," he said.
"They are the boots on the ground. They talk to the next door neighbor and hear stories of how the borrowers have trashed the property on their way out."
The technology platform of Photospection.com allows clients to place orders manually or through XML or batch order.
Clients interface with the system, and communication is done automatically as each step is processed.
"We pull out information from a client's network and download all of the orders and properties being inspected. When the job gets here, it gets sent to the inspector automatically, based on the zip code and where they cover. In view of today's gas prices, inspectors have had to curtail which territories where they cover."
Quality control makes sure the house in the photo matches the address of the location. When the job is completed, an email alert is sent to the lender or whoever requested the order. An email PDF of the form can be sent to a third party where they can download it with the system with a click of a button. Photospection.com anticipates things might get better as lenders begin to secure their properties. It ultimately costs the lender more money if they are neglected, said Mr. Onyeji.
"There are many ordinances being passed in different jurisdictions. Incombent upon them to make sure their properties are protected. Our inspectors are our eyes and ears out there in the field."
As more and more homes need to be monitored and preserved, technology ultimately allows more details to be presented on every property, he adds.
"If a lender wants to find out if an adjoining properties are up for sale, they can do that with our system and drill down for detailed information through the search process." (c) 2008 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com/ http://www.sourcemedia.com/