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Freddie Mac wants mortgage servicers to open up and move faster

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Freddie Mac officials plan to increase the frequency of interaction and dialogue with mortgage servicers as the government-sponsored enterprise tries to maximize credit recovery, reduce foreclosure timelines and help keep borrowers in their home. "Timing and transparency. You're going to hear it a lot," Stephen Clinton, vice president of loan administration and operations management at Freddie Mac, told attendees of the Mortgage Bankers Association Servicing conference in Grapevine, Texas, Wednesday. The company is in the final stages of launching a new scorecard to rate mortgage servicers, eliminating the tiered structure used previously. Tracy Mooney, senior vice president of servicer relationships and performance management at Freddie, said the scorecard will help set goal and objectives for 2011 using some new metrics, particularly for nonperforming loans. There won’t be any changes to performing loan metrics, and Mooney said some of the metrics used by Freddie haven't been updated since 2008. For nonperforming loans, Freddie will be placing additional emphasis on collection activity and how well a servicer is at finding solutions to keep people in their homes, Mooney said. Another place of increased emphasis is data integrity. In some cases, "we think we have one set of facts and you're telling us you have another set of facts," Mooney said. "It’s all about good data. It all starts with good data." Freddie officials said they've formed dedicated account teams for large servicers and regional shops, as well, with plans to increase compliance reviews and provide "transparent fact-based feedback." "Our oversight is going to increase and it will help you increase your compliance and improve your score on the scorecard," Clinton said. "We want to help you with clear instructions. We need to simplify and demystify some procedures. Our push is in the loss-mitigation space. We want you to get out to borrowers as soon as possible." Mooney said Freddie continues to improve it processes and enhance technology as it promotes responsible lending with the ultimate goal of keeping people in their homes. "We want to make relationships matter," she said. "We've been told we have not hit the mark in this area before." Clinton admitted Freddie Mac "got overwhelmed" by the level of foreclosures over the past few years, but the GSE is "aggressively trying to catch up…and make doing business with us easier." Chris Bowden, vice president at Freddie Mac's HomeSteps program, is tasked with overseeing the disposition of homes the GSE acquires through foreclosures. He said 2011 will be another record-setting year for REO volume and everyone needs to build the capacity to handle that. Bowden stressed the need to properly value a property. "We need to get back to basics and do the right thing in regards to product and price," Bowden said. "Getting the values right on our property isn't just good for REO real estate, but it's good for all real estate regardless where it is in the process. It is critical to have the right value. This is not rocket science here." Freddie Mac also is moving off the MIDANET system to a new web portal that officials stressed servicers need to be ready for as soon as possible. Migration to the new system starts in April and Freddie wants everyone using the new portal for document submission before the end of the year. Clinton said Freddie is adding staff and enhancing its imaging technology as it attempts to improve work flow processing times. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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