Real Estate

Preparing for Natural Disasters: An Industry Perspective

What can the mortgage and servicing industry do to be better prepared for when a natural disaster strikes? On Wednesday, the Five Star Institute’s Disaster Preparedness Summit focused on answering this question with participants strategizing best practices for servicers for future disaster response.

The day began by looking at how the industry and the government could work together during a natural disaster and how could latest technology like drone tech be better leveraged to respond faster and more accurately. In his welcome remarks, Denis Brosnan, CEO, DIMONT said that in the event of a disaster, everything that servicers did, from making sure that the collateral was protected, to ensuring robust communications and that repairs were done quickly, was not only in the business interest of servicers but also in the interest of the borrowers.

The interactive sessions during the summit fostered discussions around the lessons from the disasters of 2017 as well as an outlook for the 2018 disaster areas. Through industry and personal anecdotes, the speakers and the audience worked towards meeting on common ground as an industry to prepare for natural disasters.

While Julie Lindley, VP Property Preservation, Corporate Broker, at REO Management Solutions kicked off the proceedings with an interactive session reviewing the 2017 disasters through industry and personal anecdotes, Melissa Sassine, AVP, Beal Bank stressed on the use of technology and amendments to fee structures for REO properties during the second session on the outlook for 2018 disaster areas.

During his address on the need of guidelines on how to service loans in impacted areas, Oscar Posadas, VP Wells Fargo said that the industry as a whole needed to come together for a common playbook to implement and understand information to initiate appropriate actions.

The keynote speaker of the day, Eraina Perrin, Private Sector Liaison at FEMA gave the government’s point of view on disaster management while giving an overview of how FEMA collaborated with the private sector throughout the disaster lifecycle.

During the Q&A thereafter, she threw the floor open to share industry best practices to help FEMA understand opportunities where they could partner with servicers for a more efficient and effective response during and after a disaster.

Two key points of note that were highlighted during these sessions were the need for more effective communications and using new technology tools to help servicers reach out to borrowers and assess damages more efficiently.

Communication, in fact, was at the center of discussion during the last two sessions.

While Timika Cole, SVP, U.S. Bank gave a deeper insight into how open lines of communications strengthened the relationship between servicers and customers, Robert Chandler, Ph.D., Professor of Communication, Lipscomb University took the audience through the four stages of communication to effectively predict, prepare, plan, and perform communications to reach out to the victims after a natural disaster.

Hosted by DIMONT, and Five Brothers Asset Management Solutions the invitation-only Summit brought together representatives from the mortgage servicing industry along with government representatives from Fannie Mae and FEMA to collaborate on responding effectively during and after a natural disaster.

The summit was co-hosted by Auction.com, Apex Asset Management Group, ArkForecast, Cyprexx, DLS Servicing Consultants, Laudan Properties, Mortgage Contracting Services, Vacant Property Security, RES.NET, and WeatherCheck.

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