Unique Device Safeguards Properties
With more real estate-owned assets coming on the market, ensuring the condition of those assets for eventual disposition is a big concern.
At the MBA Servicing Conference, REO Sentinel, Jacksonville, Fla., went live with a GSE and a top-five servicer to help these entities monitor their REO inventory.
“REO Sentinel has been and is in pilot,” said Dave Lawson, EVP and COO of REO Sentinel. “By the end of February we’ll be in 15 major cities in seven states. The product was designed to be a standalone unit that didn’t need electricity to operate. It has a motion detector and sensor that can detect any problems that may arise in the property. It also takes pictures of the inside of the home.”
REO Sentinel is a patent-pending product designed specifically to meet the harsh requirements of the REO and presale marketplaces. This product monitors and takes a picture of anyone entering the house, detects the presence of a variety of gases as well as the presence of smoke, loss of power and several other features. Detection of any of the monitored events just described results in an immediate notification to the designated property preservation company, Realtor, bank or all parties, as the client defines its responsibilities.
Over the course of the past year, the product’s capabilities have been expanded at the behest of clients.
“We now have remote smoke detectors, remote water sensors, remote window sensors, a smoke detector, etc. The product has been expanded,” described Mr. Lawson. “The greatest interest in the product is around the collection of data. This is the first time the GSEs or the bank can see who is coming in and out of the property.”
The main entities that have showed interest in REO Sentinel thus far are the REO owners and asset managers, the insurers of these properties.
There are also those that want to find products to differentiate their services. In that case brokers and Realtors will say, “If you let me list your property I’ll offer REO Sentinel,” Mr. Lawson noted.
From the consumer side, there is an interest in having REO Sentinel placed in second homes, mobile homes, storage units, etc.
“More specific to mortgage, we will release an international version of this device in the third quarter and we’ll also introduce more remote sensors,” added Mr. Lawson.
“We’ll launch a glass-break sensor, and if we detect an intrusion of any kind we may sound off a siren to scare them away instead of just capturing pictures of the vandal. We’ll also add a GPS token.
“We’ll stick a tiny device on appliances like refrigerators, counter tops, etc. These are valuable items that people are now taking with them that they shouldn’t. Should an appliance leave it’s location we’ll send that data to the client.”
Production starts in full swing in May and June of this year. REO Sentinel will only produce 5,000 to 10,000 units per month. “I think we can help make properties safer and help offset some expensive claims,” said Mr. Lawson. “Just think, if we can detect a water leak when it starts vs. a Realtor coming in a month later and seeing mold and extensive damage. That can save a lot of money.”
In terms of hot topics facing the market, Mr. Lawson said much of the conversation will be about HAMP, HAMP denials and the ensuing short sales. Will REOs increase or decrease?
“Will short sales increase or decrease? There is a lot of education and decisions yet to be made by Washington and others that are all going to be discussed at the show this year.”