After so much anticipation, it’s hard to believe the 2022 Five Star Conference is already behind us. Mortgage industry professionals from around the nation gathered in Dallas, TX, September 18-20 for this 19th annual Five Star Conference. Our theme was EVOLVE, and the conference was designed to help attendees evolve in their professional skillsets and mindsets. After the upheaval of recent years, our industry is poised to thrive once again, and our hope is that after attending the conference, so are our industry professionals.
So much incredible content and connection took place over the three day period, it’s difficult to sum it all up. However, each day did feature some stand out moments.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18:
Sunday was a big day for REO agents and brokers, with most of the official content being focused on helping them improve their business.
The conference opened with the FORCE Membership Group’s New Member Mixer, welcoming agents and brokers new to the FORCE. The FORCE Advisory Council was available to meet and greet these new members, and network in-person to discuss the state of the REO market and what lies ahead.
The afternoon’s FORCE Rally presented relevant content and exclusive insight, designed for attendees to take their business to the next level amidst the current economic landscape.
James Hastings, President of Hastings Brokerage, Ltd. and Chairman of the FORCE, welcomed attendees to the FORCE Rally, and provided an overview of the afternoon’s agenda. Following the Keynote, a panel of experts discussed foreclosure trends and provided insights into foreclosure processes and best practices at the “The Flow of Foreclosures” session. Speakers discussed current changes in foreclosure volumes and how these changes will impact business.
Hastings returned to the stage, this time joined by Rande Johnsen, Manager of Trustee Corps for the “The Most Interesting Man in the Industry” session. Johnsen is a 35-plus-year veteran of the foreclosure, trustee, escrow, and title industries. When asked what type of loans are being foreclosed on right now and what he thinks is next, Johnsen responded: “Right now, we’re working off inventory from two plus years ago [due to the pandemic]. We still have people on forbearance plans and modification plans. But it’s primarily starting with reverse mortgages.”
Asset managers have been hit particularly hard over the past two-and-a-half years, and the “Everything Asset Management panel” covered how to become the best REO agent possible—from initial assignment to repairs and closing.
And while some REO inventories remain low, many different opportunities remain for business. For instance, HUD is running 11% default on their current portfolio of loans, and we heard directly from one of their few outsourcers during the “Government REO Opportunities” panel, offering perspectives from reps who handle USDA REO and VA REO. When asked about the qualifications a potential new agent might need, one speaker said that all that is needed in a new agent is the drive to work.
And with a number of the industry’s top experts in one room, those in attendance had the opportunity to pick the brains of these individuals during the “Ask Them Anything: Q&A With the FORCE Advisory Council” portion of the Rally. The FORCE Advisory Council is tasked with expanding FORCE’s influence guiding all members in forging productive and meaningful relationships with lenders, servicers, REO and distressed asset management companies, and investors.
Moderated by Gina Gallutia, Executive Director, Membership for the Five Star Institute, seven Advisory Council members took the stage to address the concerns of those present. The moderator started the panel off by asking the most frequently asked question they received from audience submissions: “When are the listings coming and what are the signs?”
“I believe that we will have increased foreclosure in America into 2026,” noted Hastings. “When you look at the data, it should not be a surprise, so I think we’re going to have a good five years.”
The FORCE Rally Reception closed out the 2022 FORCE Rally, segueing into the Opening Night Reception, presented by Auction.com, affording the opportunity to connect with professionals, clients, and potential new partners under one roof at Monduel’s within the confines of the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19:
On Monday, the 2022 Five Star Conference continued with a full line-up of programming that included both the Property Management Lab and the Servicing & Compliance Lab. Subject-matter experts gathered for a day full of panels, presentations, and insights for the gathered audience of industry professionals,
The morning began with the Property Management Lab. Lab Director Jodi Gaines, Chief Client Officer and EVP of Business Development and Government Relations for Insight One Solutions, served as MC for the day, kicking off a day of panel discussions that included topics such as “No Business Like Home Business: Best Practices and Current Prop Pres Challenges,” “Around the Nation: State & Local Updates,” and “Off the Books: Disposition Strategies.”
Speakers included representatives of Insight One, Auction.com, EarthvisionZ, Fannie Mae, Global Strategic, JGM Property Group, Mortgage Specialists International, M&T Bank, Planet Home Lending, Safeguard Properties, and US Bank.
The Property Management Lab began with an intro by Gaines who welcomed participants in the “No Business Like Home Business: Best Practices and Current Prop Pres Challenges” panel. “The last thing you want to see is someone struggling and they are living on the property you own,” said Timika Scott, SVP, Recovery & Loss Prevention for US Bank.
One of the byproducts of the pandemic was a refining of company teams and the importance of quality talent retention in today’s market. Mike Greenbaum, COO of Safeguard Properties, added, “As volume comes down, you have to make sure the talent can navigate you through various situations.” Chip Nolan, VP, Property Preservation for M&T Bank agreed that talent retention is key as well. “Focus on retaining your top talent,” said Nolan.
Rudy Casanova, CRO of Global Strategic served as moderator for the second panel discussion, a general state of the industry update, “Around the Nation: State & Local Updates.” Panelists discussed general trends in the REO space, from climate control to technology.
“We are seeing more extreme disasters and weather events than normal,” said Elizabeth Squires, AVP Client Account Management for Safeguard Properties on the state of climate control. “Has an inconsistent path, need to get boots on the ground in those areas.” “When any disasters occur, work from the epicenter out,” added Brandon Kirkham, COO of JGM Property Group on the impact of the climate on properties nationwide. “Focus your resources on the epicenter of the problem. It’s not where the rain happened, but how the infrastructure handled it.”
Brian Flaherty, COO of Global Strategic weighed in on a few hot-button topics. “One stroke of the pen can change your operations,” said Flaherty of legislative and regulatory concerns of servicers today.
In terms of technology, Flaherty shared his thoughts on what may lie ahead. “We may see drones start to come into the property preservation space,” commented Flaherty. “It’s unsafe to knock on certain doors, so the industry may adopt this technology in the future.”
Closing out the Property Management Lab was the “Off the Books: Disposition Strategies” panel, led by moderator Baker Breedlove, President & CEO of MSI, discussing topics related to disposition strategies, from auctions to backlogs, fix-and-flip, supply chain challenges, and impacts on the nation’s affordable housing stock.
“Foreclosure starts are beginning to spike,” noted Daren Blomquist, VP of Market Economics for Auction.com. “We are also not seeing many institutional investors in the distressed sales space right now. Thomas O’Connell, SVP of Default Servicing for Planet Home Lending, added, “Look at your inventory and put some work into it to be able to sell to the retail market.”
In the afternoon, conference staple the Servicing & Compliance Lab kicked off. The Lab was MC’ed by Co-Directors Sean Cooke, VP, National Sales, Boston National Title Agency, and Reg Shepherd, Executive Principal, Client Relations, Xome.
The Lab began with a conversation with FHFA Director Sandra Thompson, moderated by Five Star Chairman Ed Delgado. Fannie Mae Chief Economist Douglas Duncan also presented an Economic Update, during which he provided a brief economic update, tapping into his work with Fannie’s Economic & Strategic Research Group.
The Lab then continued with panels entitled “A Firm Foundation: Mortgage Servicing in a Transitional Period,” “By the Book: Government Perspectives & Insights,” and “Servicing Tech: Innovation by Necessity.”
“I think [unemployment] the elephant-in-the-room as this economy cools,” said Kevin Osuna, EVP of Mortgage Servicing for Rushmore Management Services, LLC during the “A Firm Foundation: Mortgage Servicing in a Transitional Period” panel. “Where does unemployment go? What are your solutions to address that now that the option of forbearance has already been used.”
“What we’ve been seeing recently is a lot of people having exploratory meetings to talk about what [future] solutions may be,” said Rida Sharaf, CSO of USRES/RES.NET during the “Servicing Tech: Innovation by Necessity” panel. “I think one of the most important things is to have some level of established workflow, which can be augmented by the client coming in. It’s a kind of game plan that is going to accommodate the process so it can be changed a little bit.”
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20:
On the final day of the 2022 Five Star Conference and Expo, Five Star hosted its 11th Annual Women in Housing Leadership Awards, recognizing the achievements of businesswomen whose contributions have impacted the housing and mortgage servicing industry.
The Women in Housing Leadership Awards served as a closing celebration, recognizing 25 women across five categories in the mortgage profession forging the way for future women in housing with The Rising Star Executive Award, The Trailblazer Award, The Corporate Social Responsibility Award, The Authentic Leader Award, and The Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award.
Recognizing young women leaders who, while still early in their careers, have demonstrated an outstanding capability to lead and drive progress, finalists for this year’s The Rising Star Executive Award included Rosa Arriaga, VP Loan Administration for Mr. Cooper; Joette Bonin, VP for Fay Servicing, LLC; Leah Goldmintz, VP of Capital Markets for CoreVest Finance; Kate Mossop, VP & Portfolio Product Owner, Single-Family Servicing Products and Offerings for Freddie Mac; and Lauren Shea, Chief Credit Officer for Temple View Capital. This year’s Rising Star Executive Award recipient was Freddie Mac’s Kate Mossop.
The Trailblazer Award honors women leaders who have broken barriers, and served as a catalyst for change within their organizations. Finalists for this year’s Trailblazer Award included Jaime Burgess, VP of Default Servicing for Mr. Cooper; Kimberly Hare, President of Fay Servicing, LLC; Sherri Higuera, SVP of Servicing Technology for The Money Source; Kelly MacDonald, SVP, Director of Late-Stage Default for M&T Bank; and Cecelia Raine, VP, Servicing Strategy & Integration for Freddie Mac. This year, Five Star honored Cecelia Raine of Freddie Mac with the 2022 Trailblazer Award.
Five Star’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award recognizes women executives who are driving charitable initiatives and helping the industry make a positive difference. This year’s Corporate Social Responsibility Awards finalists included Darcy Chapman, VP of Strategic Partnerships for Auction.com; Tamara Gifford, Director of Community & External Relations for Ocwen; Toniqua Green, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility for Mr. Cooper Group; Dana Stephenson, Consumer Direct Onboarding Manager for Caliber Home Loans, Inc.; and Carrie Tackett, Director of Business Development for Safeguard Properties. During the Women in Housing Luncheon, Darcy Chapman of Auction.com was named 2022 Corporate Social Responsibility Award winner.
Nominees for Five Star’s Authentic Leader Award demonstrated exemplary leadership, serving as both a business leader and a role model for their colleagues, and having earned the admiration and respect of their peers in the process. This year’s finalists included Shayna Arrington, Chief Compliance Officer with The Money Source; Jennifer Corcoran, SVP of National Operations for Caliber Home Loans; Mieke de Boer, SVP, Mortgage Default Fulfillment for Truist; Tess Siwa, SVP of Operations for Constructive Capital; and Judith Tribble, SVP, Chief Compliance Officer for Lakeview Loan Servicing. This year, the 2022 Authentic Leader Award went to Judith Tribble of Lakeview.
Five Star’s Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award recognizes women whose accomplishments have left an indelible impact on the industry, and positively influenced homeownership within the past year. All nominees must have had a minimum of 20 years of consecutive industry experience. Finalists for this year’s award included Christina Harrington, President and Co-Founder of Usherpa; Melissa Kozicki, Director of Compliance for Mortgage Cadence; Miriam Moore, President of Default Services for ServiceLink; Dawn Svedberg, VP, Head of Fintech Product Sales for Tavant; and Sandra Thompson, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFA Director Sandra Thompson was named the 2022 Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award winner.
Also as part of the Women in Housing Leadership Awards Luncheon, Five Star hosted the President of Ginnie Mae, Alanna McCargo, as the Awards Luncheon Keynote Speaker. Sworn in as Ginnie Mae’s 18th President in December 2021, McCargo began her work with the Biden-Harris Administration as a Presidential Appointee in the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) as Senior Advisor for Housing Finance for Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. Her career in housing finance spans decades, and has centrally focused on how America’s housing finance system can equitably and affordably serve the capital and credit needs of all households.
The Keynote was followed by the “Inside the She-Suite” discussion, featuring the industry’s top C-level female executives addressing today’s struggles and triumphs of breaking through the glass ceiling and into the corner office. Moderated by Ed Delgado, panelists included Ali Haralson, President of Auction.com; Miriam Moore, Division President, Default Services, ServiceLink; Ann Thorn, Head of Home Loan Servicing for Wells Fargo; and Cheryl Travis-Johnson, COO/EVP for VRM Mortgage Services.
As the second day of the 2022 Five Star Conference continued, experts from the SFR space gathered for this year’s installment of the Single-Family Rental Roundtable. Opening with a keynote speech from RCN Capital CEO Jeffrey Tesch, the Roundtable continued with a panel entitled “The Business of SFR: Finding, Managing, and Exiting.”
“Demand is weakening on purchase loan applications by about 20%, and new construction is dropping in price as well as existing leases —these are the numbers that really make a difference,” said Tesch. “That’s the reality; we’ve seen numbers way ahead of the norm, which would lead all of us to believe that going into November, we’ve got more price reductions coming.”
Next up was the “Alternative Strategies in SFR” panel. “We’re probably going to see an uptick here soon,” Tesch continued. “New construction got way ahead of their skis on pricing, and of course the rise in interest rates didn’t help at all. As compared to the vacancy rate, well, charts don’t die. They just continue down lower and we’re more than likely to see an improvement here as well.”
Finally, moderator Brian Flaherty, COO, Global Strategic hosted a Financing Update.
“Who knows what interest rates are going to do?, Tesch concluded. “Will they continue to take off for the rest of the year or will they stay stable? How will that affect price reductions? Most likely we’ve got more price reductions coming pre-Thanksgiving; however, investor purchases and all property types will remain elevated.”
With these wise words and experiences still playing in the minds of all who attended this year’s conference, we at the Five Star are already thinking about next year’s conference. It will be the 20th annual FSC, and because we’re so excited, we’re launching Early Bird registration for a limited time!
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