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Servicing

MBA Conference: Optimism around short sales, attorneys race against the clock

February 21, 2013

With home prices inching up and Fannie Mae projecting housing will contribute to gross domestic product in 2013, a person’s attention could easily switch to all the optimism surrounding the 2013 housing market.

But the true outlook of today’s market – according to a collection of observations from the MBA National Servicing Conference & Expo – is still somewhat uncertain.

The overall takeaway from sources at the conference is that today’s housing and finance system is simply operating as a series of starts and stops, with it becoming more difficult to ascertain what kind of cycle we are existing in or where we are going.

Yet, there are a few certainties.

Attorneys working on the default side are prepping for one of the largest compliance measures they have ever encountered in their careers.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dissolve their retained-attorney networks, lawyers are in the final stages of meeting a March 1 deadline, which is when the GSEs will begin responding to servicer recommendations for law firms that they want to handle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.

Then, there is the question of what is happening on the asset management and property preservation side of the house.

Dale McPherson, CEO and president of Austin-based Field Asset Services, noted, "We have continued to find an appetite (from clients) for loss mitigation because it is the one area where the process is moving well."

His firm also committed more resources to HUD compliance, an area of considerable growth. McPherson noted FAS is anticipating 25% growth in HUD service volumes on the pre-foreclosure side.

In addition, servicers continue to demand HOA and property preservation compliance assistance, creating growth in this area of FAS’ business.

Still, McPherson says short sales remain a top solution in today’s market. "Given all of the additional default timelines, it has allowed a record number of short sales and modifications. My optimism is around short sales because you do get disposition."

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