Today, the editorial department of HousingWire is broadcasting from the Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, where the 6th annual Southern States Servicing Conference is taking place.
Put on by the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association and sponsored by HousingWire, the event recently expanded from Lone Star borders to include other regional servicers.
Jack Bryant is chairman of the conference and a VP of client relations at field service provider MSI. He took a moment this morning to sit and answer a few questions on the conference, how he got here, and where it is all going.
HW: We want to talk bigger picture, but first how did you get to be chairman of the show?
JB: Well, I was Chairman last year, and a panelist at previous conferences in the years before that. At that time, Barry Baker, who at the time was a VP of servicing at Colonial Savings serves as previous chairman and he nominated me. The board of TMBA said its great and as far as I know, there was no competition for the role.
HW: So, what are the responsibilities expect of you in putting this show on?
JB: Overall, the chairman's job, in my mind, is to get a bigger picture of where we want to go and how to make it serve the servicing community better. And, I think you'll agree, there has never been a more challenging time for servicers, the last few years have been crazy.
So, you got servicers, and you have to meet their needs. They need to know the latest information in the panels, from the top minds. They need to know the attorneys, field servicers, property preservationist who can help them in he best ways.
So again, you really have to know their needs, and how that relates to all of the current hot topics: defaults, short sales, etc. And there needs to be a point to all of that and that's where we come in. We gather all that together and coordinate business models.
HW: You mention the challenging times…
JB: Servicers are bending over backwards. They are following government regulations, pushing home retention and managing defaults. And all the while they are trying to minimize the negative impact the current recession is having on our communities.
And this is key.
I don't think Americans realize how hard servicers work and the types of pressures they are under. We have to relieve that pressure and help get the economy back on track. Servicers need to know the resources and means necessary to keep hard working, honest Americans in their home.
HW: and this conference seems especially tool-based to that effect. Certainly squeezing profits from servicing is a growing challenge, and the scope of this issue is growing beyond the borders of the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association.
JB: We've noticed how many people are flying in, and that number is growing. We started at under 100 people, today we are more than 300, and growing.
This conference, it's really like a boot camp. It's four tracks with concurrent sessions in each, all day long.
HW: You stop for lunch?
JB: We stop for lunch, yes, and an evening reception also provides networking opportunities. And that's a good point, you mention when we stop. At last night's opening reception I opened it up to hear other points, to hear other ideas.
When the magnitude of housing default is driving the bigger picture, and with Dallas Fort Worth now one of the largest serving communities—every major lender has a shop here—the negative impact on one home can have a negative impact on a neighborhood. Then on to the community; on and on up the ladder.
So, it's something we need to address in totality because when entire neighborhoods see values brought down, and with so many in with negative equity so they can't sell out of their home at a reasonable price, the idea that servicers somehow create money is incorrect.
If the home cost $350,000 a few years ago and the borrower gets out $200,000, the servicer has to pay that difference. That's a problem that's not exclusive to Texas.
And with the picture changing at the rate it is, I anticipate we will continue to have that kind of momentum in shows for many years to come.