Bruce begins the radio show by asking Shelley what REOMAC stands for. REOMAC stands for Real Estate Owned Managers Association. It was founded in 1985 by a group of REO asset managers, who met during the California downturn in order to exchange business ideas. Originally the members were only asset managers, but now the group is composed of anyone who can compliment agents and asset managers. Because the market has significantly changed, the lenders are using other sources to help sell their properties.
REOMAC membership has grown substantially, because networking is very important during these difficult times. Right now, REOMAC has stopped accepting new members because they are trying to reformat the organization so that people who want to join can get into the organization. The organizations bylaws say that the membership must be balanced so there are currently more agents that are wanting to join. There are currently four levels of membership that Shelley explains.
The cost of being a member of REOMAC varies by category. The lenders pay $75 dollars per year, the outsource members pay $150 per year, and their affiliate and broker members pay $375 per year.
REOMAC holds about ten to twelve meetings per year around the country and they also have two conferences. Their most recent conference was in Rancho Mirage, and over 2,500 people attended.
Bruce asks Shelley if REOMAC also has members that deal with commercial lender-owned properties. Shelley just implemented a commercial committee this year because REOMAC knew that as the market turned around that would be another phase of default. In their last conference, REOMAC had a session on commercial real estate, and many people were interested.
Bruce feels that commercial real estate is going to be the next market to get hurt. The agents who are prepared for this market will have a lot of business. Shelley agrees that agents need to be prepared for the commercial market because the down economy is affecting every area of business.
Bruce asks Shelley if REOMAC has its largest number of members in California. Shelley says that California does represent its largest member population which is partially due to the fact that REOMAC started as a California organization. When Shelley joined REOMAC in 2001 there was not much business going on with lender owned properties. Subprime loans were going crazy and people were recognizing that people could go in and buy a home. At that time REOMAC had about 300 REOs in the entire company. Last year, REOMAC had closer to 20,000 REOs.
In 2008, lenders were overwhelmed by the number of defaults in their portfolios. They were unable to sell their inventory faster than it was coming in. Bruce asks Shelley if there are agents who have been thru this cycle before saying that there is a difference in how their properties are being handled this time. Shelley does not think there has ever been such a bombardment of properties.
Bruce says that asset managers once talked to REO agents, and there was some type of communication on a regular basis, but now their communication relies on email, and this is sometimes frustrating for an agent. Shelley agrees and disagrees with that statement. Agents are busy in the field as well. Most of the lenders went to online systems, and since you could do all your business online, there was less need to speak to agents.
Bruce says that in 2008, there was a challenge in pricing properties correctly and the lenders took a lot of losses that they could have avoided if they had just listened to their local agents. Shelley does not think that the lenders necessarily needed to listen to the agents because when agents work for a lender they are appraisal driven. The appraisers and brokers were disagreeing with each other. Nobody could keep up with the speed in which property values were dropping. It took a while for everyone to understand what was occurring in the market place. People had many years of increasing prices, so it was hard to fathom that prices were dropping as quickly as they were.
In the past, when there was a decline, the appraisers would notify the seller that they were deducting three percent per month to accommodate for what was occurring in the market place. In this downturn, people were not doing that because they did not understand what has happening. They did not have the proper statistics. If they were looking at comps, that would not work. If they were looking at stats that were even 90 days old, then the broker would have a poor understanding of what they would get for their property. Appraisers give you information from data, rather than what is going on in the market place. The lenders started to realize that the agents were their best source of information.
Bruce asks Shelley if it has been difficult to keep up with all of the rule changes that have been applied to the foreclosure process. Shelley says that it has been difficult for everybody, because there have been times where people were about to sell a property, and in the middle of the process, some sort of law changes.
Laws have been made on both the national and state level. Bruce asks Shelley if a lot of states are having moratoriums. California did for a while but the lenders are the ones that have really put the moratoriums in place. When Fannie and Freddie started doing this, everyone else followed suit.
Bruce asks Shelley if there is any chance for a national moratorium. Shelley hopes not, and she thinks that nobody truly believes that the moratoriums are doing anything other than delaying the inevitable. When someone creates a moratorium for 9 months it messes with your business model and you have to staff up for that. The moratoriums are affecting the REO agents and the lenders. While the moratoriums may keep people in their homes temporarily, it may also be putting other people out of work, which will lead them to losing their homes.
A new rule has just been created that protects tenants after the foreclosure sale. This rule allows anyone who has a lease agreement to stay inside a property during the entire time of the lease. Shelley says that the wording in this new law is vague and unclear, so attorneys are trying to interpret the meaning. The problem with this rule is that it turns lenders into landlords, and that is not the intent of any mortgage or loan process. This is expensive for any lender that exists and it will put fear into the next lender who takes over the property. Shelley says that some people worry that this law will scare away potential investors who buy properties from foreclosure sales. Bruce confirms this belief saying we will not buy a property with a tenant. Shelley wonders who will be collecting the rents as well. Will the agents collect the rent? But why would they do that if they are not going to be able to sell the property? The system is not set up to handle this.
Investors won’t touch this because typically when buying at trustee sale the investor has not seen the inside of the house, has not met the renters, and have no idea what the lease agreement says.
It is difficult to determine what a valid lease is, and whether or not a property is actually something you want to keep. Bruce fears that people will take advantage of this law by faking people into believing that they are legitimate tenants, and that they have the right to take charge of the lease. It seems difficult for the lenders to do this without taking on a lot of losses. The longer they hold on to their properties the more expensive it is, and the less they will be able to make on them. This law may also turn them into a landlord with many other responsibilities and they are not ready for that.
The cities in California have passed a law that allows the city to fine lenders $1,000 dollars a day for things such as brown lawns and green pools. Bruce knows cities that have hired code enforcement people who are paid just to check up on these things. This is actually occurring in Chicago and other cities as well. This is unfair because there are many occasions where the lender does not have the property vacant so that they can repair the property. The cities are just putting the lenders in a position where they will have to spend more and more money. Cities need to be in partnership with the owner of those properties. Cities are starting to fine properties right after they go into foreclosure but they are not fining the occupant or the owner.
Shelley Kaye recently joined InSource Financial Services, LLC as a Portfolio Acquisitions Specialist, handling bulk sale purchases of REO properties. Prior to joining InSource she was a Servicing Oversight Specialist with ECC Capital and for 11 years a Senior Asset Manager for First Option Asset Management Services, managing a team of associates as well as a multi-state REO portfolio. Before working at FOAMS, she spent seven years at First Central Bank where she was the assistant to the VP of the Servicing Department. She has been a licensed Realtor for over 20 years and sold properties in Southern California prior to entering the mortgage banking field.
Shelley has served on the REOMAC® Board for the past 8 years and participates as a speaker on a variety of panels for many industry events. She has held the offices of Sponsor Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President , prior to becoming REOMAC President in 2008.