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Hot Seat: Brian Pidgeon of ServiceLink

Running automated valuation models can be a good starting point to help investors see where they have low or negative equity across their portfolios

HousingWire spoke with ServiceLink’s Brian Pidgeon about portfolio growth.


HousingWire: What portfolio management challenges are investors facing right now?

Brian Pidgeon: The primary challenge right now is uncertainty. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac extending the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and REO evictions until June 30, and FHFA offering eligible borrowers an additional three-month extension of COVID-19 forbearance, we all have to wait a little longer to see when and how borrowers exit these programs. Will they be able to make their payments again or will they become further delinquent?

HW: How can investors manage and grow their portfolios in today’s market?

BP: It’s a matter of identifying the purchase opportunities that make sense for their risk appetite in this market. There are still portfolios for sale. Fannie and Freddie have put some nonperforming loan (NPL) and reperforming loans (RPL) pools out to market over the past year, so larger investors have been able to bid on the GSE pools if they have the resources to do so. Another option is identifying private investors who are looking to unload portions of their portfolios due to the uncertainty. Investors with a sound strategy for valuing and managing NPLs and RPLs can potentially capitalize on the market.

HW: How could upcoming forbearance exits potentially affect portfolio growth?

BP: No one can be sure yet. A lot of sophisticated eyes, all around the industry, are looking at the current forbearance and moratorium situation and wondering how the loans under forbearance will play out once the plans are lifted. Depending on the outcome, investors may choose to become active in selling or acquiring and servicing those loans.

As of March 16, there were about 2.6 million loans in forbearance, according to estimates from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Many of these loans are 90 days delinquent. If they continue to stay severely delinquent after they exit forbearance, some investors will want to offload these NPLs, while others look to buy and manage them. The investors holding the loans, who haven’t had many options for servicing them over the past several months, will need to get more aggressive with loss mitigation efforts: collections, loan modifications, or potentially short sales or foreclosure, depending on the borrower’s equity in the property and willingness to work through loss mitigation measures.

On the other hand, if borrowers take their loans current through the various options available — e.g., deferring forborne payments or a loan modification — we will come out of forbearance with low levels of delinquency and lower NPL activity.

HW: What sort of home inspection/valuation products are best for investors looking to grow their portfolios in today’s market?

BP: Running automated valuation models (AVMs), can be a good starting point to help investors see where they have low or negative equity across their portfolios and match that information with severely delinquent borrowers so they know how they should be prioritizing their loss mitigation efforts once the programs lift. Additionally, exterior valuation products — broker price opinions, evaluations and hybrid appraisal products — can be a huge help to investors who want to better understand property condition and collateral value/price, for the riskier loans in their portfolios and start planning risk mitigation efforts.

HW: What should investors look for in a service provider partner?

BP: They should seek a proven partner with experienced valuation leadership, innovative technology solutions and the financial strength to weather market fluctuations. Their partner should provide the full range of available valuation options, from AVMs all the way through full interior and exterior appraisals, and consultatively deliver property valuation solutions that optimize the investor’s asset management and risk mitigation strategies. National scope is important, too, so that this partner can meet the investor’s needs no matter where the properties in their portfolios may be.

Learn more about ServiceLink’s solutions at svclnk.com/investors.

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