Mortgage Servicer Wilshire to Close REO Department
[Update 1: Adds IBM, BofA Q409 earnings] Wilshire Credit Corp., the servicer purchased by IBM (IBM) in October 2009, will close its real estate-owned (REO) property management and marketing operations after March 1, 2010, according to a letter Wilshire sent to REO brokers late last week. Over 12 years, brokers working with Wilshire closed more than 50,000 REO properties with a combined sales price of $6bn. The sale of Wilshire from Bank of America (BAC) to global IT services provider IBM continues to progress, and all current Wilshire REO properties on the servicer's books will be transferred over to BofA, according to the letter. Sources suggested Wednesday that the properties will be boarded on the old First Franklin loan servicing platform, also owned by Bank of America. A spokesperson with BofA confirmed on Tuesday to REO Insider, a sister publication, that the bank will retain ownership of the loan portfolio serviced by Wilshire, and the Wilshire loans were not included as part of the sale. The Wilshire REO properties will be managed by Denver-based Integrated Asset Services, a full service asset management firm that has an existing relationship with Bank of America. Brokers with active REO listings at Wilshire will receive a two-week notice prior to the transfer, which will inform them when to submit final bills. “We [Wilshire] anticipate little disruption as they plan to continue the listings with the current listing agents. Wilshire will have no involvement with the REO following the transfer,” according to the letter. IBM is planning to board some 30,000 loans on the Wilshire platform after the sale is complete, according to sources with knowledge of IBM's plans, but the owner(s) of these loans will manage and market their own REO, according to the broker letter. The result is that the IBM/Wilshire platform will be the only servicer in the country without a viable REO management platform -- a move that has at least some in the industry scratching their heads. "IBM's existing clients may have a way to manage REO that doesn't require Wilshire to have an REO department, but I don't know how they expect to bid for any other new servicing business," asked one long-time servicing management executive, who requested anonymity. Nonetheless, IBM continues its push into the mortgage industry. In November 2009, HousingWire broke the news of IBM’s new loan modification software package at a loan modification conference in Dallas, Texas. The package can perform mail-, phone- and Web-based outreach campaigns to targeted borrowers based on the servicer’s specific criteria. For the fourth quarter of 2009, IBM reported a net income of $4.8bn, up 9% from the previous quarter. BofA posted a $5.2bn net loss, after repaying investments to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Wilshire Credit, based in Beaverton, Oregon, is one of the 103 servicers participating in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). It currently receives a potential capped payment of $323m, according to Treasury documents. Phone calls to Wilshire for comment were not immediately returned. -- This story is from REO Insider, a sister publication. Write to Jon Prior.