Freddie Expects Renewed Focus on Data Integrity in '04

With the refinancing boom leveling off and portfolio churning expected to ease this year, Freddie Mac thinks that servicers and their business partners will have more time to focus on technology improvements.

Janet Eakes, vice president of sourcing operations at Freddie Mac, told MSN that the secondary market agency will be talking to its servicing partners about technology it provides, including EarlyResolution and EarlyIndicator, which help services improve productivity and maximize performance and minimize credit losses.

She said technology is coming back to the forefront as an industry concern. Heavy lending volume in recent years has prevented many firms from devoting resources into technology issues, but Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have each made heavy investments in servicing infrastructure.

And servicing vendors are creating new tools to help lenders improve data integrity and customer relationship management, she noted.

She said the development of electronic data standards, such as those promoted by the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, is paying off by creating new opportunities to improve the flow of data and limit re-keying of information. A Freddie Mac advisory committee of lenders is exploring ways to promote a seamless flow of data from loan origination systems to servicing systems. That kind of technology integration can reduce servicing costs by increasing data accuracy and data accessibility, she said.

Ms. Eakes said that because of cash-out refinancing and the introduction of new mortgage products in recent years, servicers will be keeping an eye on delinquency rates.

She said Freddie Mac "will be monitoring that and preparing for some of the challenges" that the industry may face.

Ms. Eakes said many of the new technology products available to mortgage servicers focus on "early intervention" to minimize the likelihood that delinquent loans end up in foreclosure.

In addition, Freddie Mac is working to expand homeownership counseling so that it is available to consumers after origination. "We are focusing more and more on affordable housing, ensuring that we educate the borrower during the servicing of the loan, not just at origination," she said.

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