Bruce first asks Shelley if lenders generally fix the properties when they sell them. Shelley says that it depends on the market and the lender but usually fixes her properties. She does not want to bring the prices of a neighborhood down; she wants to enhance a neighborhood. She knows a large number of other agents who work with lenders to fix properties and they make a lot of profit that way. When you support the value of a neighborhood, you also enable some people to get a refi instead of losing a property. Everybody wins when people fix properties.
Bruce asks Shelley how REO agents feel about auction companies. For the most part, the auction companies and agents are working in a partnership, and in many cases, the agents are still earning a commission. In the past, if a property went to an auctioneer then an agent would not be paid. The agents do open houses for auction companies, and they bring in buyers. In the 1990s, the agents didn’t make a commission so this time is much better. The auction company couldn’t function as successfully if it weren’t for the agents who are also bringing the buyers.
Bruce asks Shelley how REO agents feel about investors. Most good REO agents have a pool of investors that they work with. The problem that agents have is determining who is an investor and who is not. Real investors are easier to work with because they understand the market place, and they are not unrealistic about property values. Agents like working with investors because they know what they want and they understand how lenders do business. Most investors will close quickly. One of the dilemmas that agents have with wannabe investors is that they do not check up on their properties, they do not understand what it takes to buy an REO from a lender, and they do not understand what they are planning to do with a property. Investors must need to know what they are doing and they must do their homework.
In today’s market, an investor needs to be able to look at a property and quickly determine the repair cost and the appraisal to be competitive, because many properties have multiple offers. They must understand so many facets of the business from how much prices are declining to how much the house will rent for.
Bruce asks Shelley if she thinks that short sales will be more attractive to the lenders now than they were in the past. Shelley thinks that they will be more attracted to short sales, because there is a lot of cost in processing a foreclosure. The biggest problem she sees with this is that loss mitigators are not experienced enough to understand what is occurring in the market place. Time is their biggest enemy.
Bruce asks if loss mitgators, asset managers, and ever really talk before something goes to trustee sale. When Shelley worked at Option 1, she would talk to the loss mitigation department. They had formulas to determine how much they would lose in specific deals. Unfortunately, many of the people who work with loss mitigation do not understand the market.
Bruce says The Norris Group has noticed a big change in opening bids at the trustee sales. They are making more sense. Bruce asks if people often communicate with REO agents, prior to trustee sales, to determine accurate prices before the trustee sale. Shelley says that lenders are always getting a broker price opinion. The biggest problem is that they do not get to see the property, so sometimes people give high bids. Lenders always consult with agents and get a BPO (broker price opinion) of some sort.
Lenders pay around $45 to $50 for a drive by broker price opinion and $75 to $100 for an interior BPO. When agents do drive by BPOs they are determining the price by just looking at the outside of the house, so they do not know what damage there might be inside. Bruce says the paperwork is very much similar to that of an appraiser’s.
Bruce asks Shelley if she has people in her company that are being affected by the new appraisal rules and the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. Shelley says that she does not know if agents are being severely affected by this new rule, but she does know that the closings are taking longer. They are also getting paid half as much for the appraisals when dealing with the new management companies. Shelley is glad that steps are being taken to prevent fraud but she thinks that these new rules are hurting appraisers. It’s important to have arms lengths transactions but the Realtors can sometimes point out subtleties in the market that appraisers wouldn’t get to on their own. Agents can actually help arrive at the proper price. Bruce feels that same about the appraisal issues and how they are affecting investors in the market. Bruce feels that these new rules are unfair because they assume that people who make deals quickly are looking for trouble. In reality, over 90 percent of the people who do their business quickly are doing so simply because they are trying to be efficient and helpful. Shelley agrees with Bruce’s feelings on this.
Bruce saw a chart that showed that 35 percent of Option ARM borrowers are behind in payments, 72 percent of Option ARM owners owe more than their house is worth, and California has 58 percent of all those loans. Shelley says it is astonishing and there are also statistics say that those in loan modification plans often go back into default. Our government really hasn’t considered the whole picture. Bruce feels that there are many homeowners that are making their payment because that’s what they signed up for. But it will be important for prices to be supported within a reasonable amount of time and we won’t be saving everyone. We have had a 70 percent home ownership percentage, but historically that percentage has been around 62 percent. Bruce thinks that the home ownership percentage will go down to 62 percent which will leave a lot of vacant homes. Shelley thinks that we need to turn these empty homes into affordable rental units. If investors are buying these properties then they need to be careful not to raise rent. Bruce says that the market usually controls rental prices. If there are enough rentals then the price will come down, and that is occurring in some areas in California.
Bruce asks Shelley what she thinks about shadow inventory. Shelley says that there is a lot of unlisted inventory out there. A lot of lenders have been told by their management that the burst of the bubble is coming within the next 60 days. She doesn’t know if they have been holding that much of the inventory or if the moratorium has caused the problem. The next 60 days she says she is hearing it’s going to explode.
Bruce says in San Bernardino County, there were 40,000 trustee sales in 2008, and there were about 22,000 sales. Bruce asks if other states are looking at California’s situation and wondering why Californians are so worried. Shelley says that there are some states that have been hit less than others, but for the most part, everyone is feeling the same pain. Bruce asks if California is going to experience more trouble within the next 18 months, and if higher priced inventory will be affected. Shelley says that is true and that some of the higher priced inventory is going into the foreclosure market, and more prime inventory is going into default.
Bruce says he hears advertisements for attorneys every day for loan fraud and workouts. Bruce asks Shelley if lenders are having trouble with people looking for loopholes. She does not know if there are many attorneys looking for loopholes, but there are attorneys looking to stop specific attorneys from doing this.
Bruce asks Shelley if she was president for a year, what national policies she would implement to help housing recover. She would focus on creating jobs so that people can pay for their homes. She thinks that principalities and municipalities need to cooperate with buyers and lenders. Programs need to be set up so that people can work on properties and fix them up. More 40 year mortgages need to be put in place, so that payments become more affordable. She would also want less moratoriums being placed on the market so that the problems can fix themselves. Some people should have never been in homeownership to begin with. More incentives need to given to lenders who work with home owners.
Bruce asks Shelley if it might be good to create a short term policy that would forgive foreclosures faster than before since this scenario got so out of hand. Shelley thinks that would be a good idea because people are losing their good credit. The government should really talk to the industry that’s at work so they understand what’s happening the in marketplace. For more information visit www.reomac.com.
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.