As the Five Star Institute closed out the celebration of its 20th Annual Five Star Conference & Expo in Dallas, a packed house wrapped up the event at the 2023 Five Star REO Forum.
As the economy faces new challenges and fears of a nationwide recession lingers, will the industry witness a return to pre-pandemic REO volumes?
At the 2023 REO Forum, hosted by Altisource, attendees had the opportunity to learn what subject-matter experts believe will happen to REO volumes in the coming months, where will the volume come from, and how will asset managers and other stakeholders preparing for these shifts in the marketplace. The REO Forum featured some of the top minds in the industry sharing critical dialogue regarding unique challenges involving disposition, lead generation, asset management, and listing strategy.
Welcoming attendees to the event was Guild Mortgage’s VP of Marketplace Diversity Strategy and American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC) Advisory Council member, Victoria Garcia DeLuca, who kicked off the Forum and outlined the vital topics to be covered during day’s discussions. As VP, Marketplace Diversity Strategy for Guild Mortgage, DeLuca leads the company’s long-term initiatives, promoting minority homeownership and sustaining diversity, equity, and inclusion in lending. DeLuca’s responsibilities include recruiting and retention of minority loan officers, developing new products for minority markets, and serving as a liaison with the GSEs. She leads Guild’s participation in the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA), and also serves on NAHREP’S Corporate Board of Governors and represents Guild Mortgage with the MBA’s “Home for All Pledge,” the industry’s commitment to addressing racial inequities in housing. She previously served as SVP of Federal Savings Bank, where she led a team supporting homeownership within Hispanic and Black communities.
DeLuca welcome the REO Forum’s Keynote Speaker, Keith Reynders-Byars, Director of Vendor Management of VRM Mortgage Services, as he discussed VRMs proactive approach to the current REO cycle, why the company is focusing on local markets, and the next steps the industry must take to survive this REO cycle.
Currently serving as the Director of Vendor Management at VRM Mortgage Services, Reynders-Byars plays a pivotal role in the strategic oversight of third-party relationships encompassing procurement, risk assessment, compliance, and performance management. Throughout his 13-year tenure with VRM Mortgage Services, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership, keen analytical acumen, and a commitment to operational excellence. Prior to VRM Mortgage Services, he served as an Asset Manager and Loss Mitigation Specialist at Fannie Mae.
Following the Keynote Remarks, the first of four panel discussions of the day took place, as Eric Will, REO Senior Director of Freddie Mac, served as Moderator of the “Team REO: Working With Attorneys and Vendors for a Successful Close” panel. A lively exchange between Will and panelists Graham Arceneaux, Managing Attorney with Graham, Arceneaux & Allen LLC; Managing Partner Michelle Gilbert with the Gilbert Garcia Group P.A.; and Stuart Gordan, Managing Partner with McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce LLC focused on the areas of legal concerns in REO space and how to avoid pitfalls. Panelists also discussed what REO agents can do to assist their legal team to better expedite the asset’s return to market.
Following panel one, Michael Krein, President of the National REO Brokers Association (NRBA), delivered a Market Update for attendees. Over the course of his career, Krein has personally listed and sold more than 25,000 single-family rental (SFR) units. Krein was also the owner of numerous multi-office brokerage companies, both independent and franchised, including owning regions for national brands. In addition to his role as President of NRBA, Krein serves as CEO of RIO Software Solutions, provider of RIO Genesis Software, and Managing Partner for House Karma, a digital ecosystem created to facilitate affordable homeownership and neighborhoods.
Panel two, titled “We Are the World,” focused on networking and connections that are key to the REO industry. A panel of top trade associations that are coming together to improve the mortgage industry, not just through education and connections, but also by building minority homeownership and professional opportunities. Moderator Tai Christensen, President of Arrive Home and Chair of the AMDC, welcomed a panel of guests, including Ivan Choi, Past National Chairman of the Asian Real Estate Association (AREAA); Stephen Lewis, President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB); Peter Park, President of DCT Foundation; and Jason Riveiro, Executive Director of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) shared their top tips for getting engaged with your industry peers, and how to grow business in today’s marketplace.
Panel two was followed by FORCE Events Committee Chair Steve Pagano, and Liberty House Realty Broker/Owner Jesse Gonzalez, as the duo discussed the current REO marketplace, future trends, and how to foster valuable relationships in your REO network at the REO Forum’s “Fireside Chat.” Pagano serves as Principal Broker of First Hawaiian Realty in Honolulu, as well as the Broker and Owner of Pagano Properties in New York—both companies specializing in servicing the default market sector. Additionally, he has been a member of the Five Star FORCE Advisory Council since 2017, and was formerly the CFO for a New York-based mortgage company. Gonzalez has a career that spans over 15 years, and has been a licensed Real Estate Agent since 2005, a Broker since 2008, and he founded Liberty House Realty in 2013. He obtained his Registered Appraisal Trainee in 2019, providing him with valuable insights into property valuation and market analysis.
The day’s final panel, “Update on Government REOs,” provided valuable insight, opportunities, and advice on the challenges that come with successful ventures. Moderated by Doan Ly Nguyen, Small Business Utilization Specialist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the panel featured insight from Tyler Amaya, Asset Manager from PEMCO Capital; Labrescia Dawson, CEO from Dawson’s Management; Tiffany Fletcher, SVP, Support Services from VRM Mortgage Services; Mark Harris, REO Director from HUD; and Marcia Toms, CEO from LCA Holdings RE LLC. The group shared their experiences on how REO agents can benefit from seeking government contracts.
Plans are already underway for the 2024 installment of the Five Star Conference & Expo with plans to include yet another forum for REO professionals to exchange their ideas and insight to help better the industry.