Chris Saitta, CEO of Equator, formerly REOTrans, has over 25 years of leadership experience in technology and software development. Under his guidance, Equator has affected multiple paradigm shifts in process efficiency and transparency and specializes in the default and real estate owned (REO) industry. For this episode of In This Corner, Chris talks about how technology fits into the REO space. HW: Can you tell us about your unique technology platform for managing REOs? Chris: Equator provides a comprehensive platform that automates and connects the default servicing industry. The platform consists of a highly configurable virtual Workstation and a vibrant e-commerce marketplace. The workstation automates everyone’s day-to-day process while the marketplace enables everyone to work together. The workstation accepts our pre-configured process automation modules. There are modules to automate REO, short sale, deed-in-lieu, negotiated settlement, short refinance, valuation, etc. To your question about REO, currently seven of the top REO volume servicers use our platform and REO module. It’s unique in being the only system that automates everyone’s process while enabling them to work together electronically in a safe and transparent environment. There are roughly 10,000 asset managers, 16,000 vendors and 650,000 real estate agents on the platform handling over 150,000 transactions daily. HW: It seems that by changing your name recently from REOTrans to Equator you wish to move outside the REO space and into other distressed asset areas, such as short sales. Can you tell us about your strategy and the reasons for doing this? For instance, you host an exchange with close to 800,000 participants, how are you managing to keep your brand and reputation intact? Chris: When Equator first started our business was focused entirely on REO; there was a very significant gap between what was available and what was demanded. As we began to develop and implement our REO solution we saw tremendous potential and began to develop solutions to move upstream into default. The name change to Equator is in response to this move. At the end of the day we’re not simply a technology company – Equator is a solutions company. It is a direct result of this approach that our brand and reputation are so strong. It is essential to continue to drive innovative and comprehensive solutions which will further enhance the Equator brand. HW: In the directory of homes, you note a list price. How difficult is it to create an accurate value with these distressed assets? Chris: Equator is dedicated to providing the best technology solution for our clients. Included in the software are tools designed to assist in the marketing process of these assets. Valuation can sometimes be difficult due to the current instability in the market. The property valuation module enables data to be anonymously culled from our system for real-time competitive comparisons and historical trending. With over 700,000 properties in the database it is the most comprehensive tool currently on the market. The net present value calculator is a new tool included in the loss mitigation module. It utilizes all available information to determine values for a property along various stages of the default process, thus ensuring the servicer can maximize revenue for a given asset. HW: In the future, or even the present for that matter, can technology be of more help with the servicing of these assets? If so, in what ways? For one, you guys pushed web-based tech over software installation, allowing members to log-on from wherever. Chris: Technology will play an increasingly important role for servicing these assets. As lenders demand shorter throughput times, servicers will become increasingly reliant upon technology to provide greater efficiencies. Cloud computing is an essential component of increasing efficiency because it allows for companies to better utilize their resources. The platform allows agents, lenders and servicers to work wherever and whenever they have Internet access. HW: That sounds really useful for those out in the field. But do you see a trend of more and more micro-agents working from home or do you see clients consolidating operations aggressively? If the latter, then how do you sell web-tech over signature software? Chris: While technology will never replace human interaction in a business, we can minimize the disruption that being apart inherently causes. The most important thing about this technology is that the software itself is only part of the overall solution. Basing our software in a web environment gives it a competitive advantage; it maintains all the features of traditional software without the limitation of having to work from specific machines and locations. Additionally, it allows for all users to work together in a seamless digital environment to further promote collaboration that is impossible using traditional systems.