Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC) said Friday morning that it had partnered with San Diego-based New Vista Asset Management to help dispose of the growing number of REO properties on its books. The partnership was touted by both companies as a way to help build minority homeownership and establish sustainable neighborhoods amidst the ongoing U.S. housing crisis. New Vista is an REO outsourcing operation that itself is a partnership between Philadelphia-based ETCREO, a full-service REO outsourcer, and the heads of the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Relative to other REO management operations -- and there are many -- New Vista has positioned itself strongly around building sustainable minority homeownership, moreso than speed of disposition. It's a strategy that appears to be paying dividends for New Vista as the housing mess has grown, and lenders, including Countrywide, have come under increasing pressure from community and equal housing groups -- beyond the Countrywide partnership announced Friday, the company also has a similar partnership agreement in place with Fannie Mae as well. Of course, it's worth noting that New Vista's strategy -- while certainly well-timed -- has also helped put many minority and first-time homebuyers into properties. The partnership between Countrywide and New Vista essentially amounts to an agreement to use New Vista's broker network to list and sell REO properties -- the lender said that it is using New Vista's network in key local markets where REO volume tends to be heaviest: San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Atlanta. It's unclear if New Vista has an exclusive contract with Countrywide that will see its own broker network receiving all REO listing referrals from the nation's largest servicer in these key markets, or if another arrangement is in place. A call to Countrywide for clarification was not immediately returned. For more information, visit and Disclosure: The author was long on CFC when this story was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.