By Dean Talaganis, ESQ
REOMAC, the not-for-profit trade association, is perhaps the country’s largest organization devoted exclusively to the world of REO. I recently attended the fall conference in Hollywood, Fla., and attendance was at its all-time high with over 1,700 people. The organization held many sessions for Realtors, attorneys, servicers, outsourcers and title agents. REOMAC also holds monthly dinner meetings across the country.
So what did we learn this year? As we all know, there are record numbers of assets coming into REO daily and there appears to be no end in sight. For the REO Realtor, it opens up the door for more work than anyone could have imagined. For the non-REO Realtors, even more opportunities are on the horizon with representing qualified buyers who are looking for excellent price and location opportunities.
Part of the organization’s goals for each conference (held twice a year) is to educate their members and attendees about what is going on in the REO marketplace, as well as to get them to meet people in the business and share ideas. I’d like to share with you some of the things that I took away from the conference that I felt would be beneficial to all brokers and agents.
Perhaps the main piece that I took away from the broker’s only session was office efficiency. There are a number of things that you can all do to make your offices run smoothly and handle the large numbers of properties coming in as new listings. While this type of specialty product used to be open to only a few brokers and agents who specialized in REO, there are more opportunities out there for all agents to join the ranks.
To increase efficiency, you must first invest in new technology. Most of the outsourcers who place listings with Realtors require that you use their own internal systems and/or platformed systems (which must be subscribed to). The days of just picking up the phone and being able to speak with an asset manager who can readily recognize an address are over. E-mails are the norm and regular reporting is required. Every file that is sent has a number, and the outsourcers are requiring both the Realtor and the closing agent to utilize their formats for reporting. They are time consuming to learn and limited in their usage, but nonetheless, we all have to use them. Most of the outsourcers are going paperless, so we all have to increase our computer’s speed, efficiency and storage capabilities.
Second, you may want to consider the greater number of listings available and staff up to meet the demand. With the financial industry laying off people in record numbers, you should be able to find trainable persons to fill the gap. Former title and mortgage personnel should be interviewed and hired as they have been exposed to the basics of what you do. You will find that many have the same work ethics that our industry demands that you can utilize to your benefit. Don’t be in a hurry to hire someone to fill any position. It is important to select the right person the first time. It takes a tremendous amount of time, money and effort to de-program and re-program employees to work the way that our industry needs in order to get things done.
Third, hiring a competent accounting staff to track and bill expenses for reimbursement is going to be key in the future. You can’t keep your businesses open if you lose track of the money that you have outlaid on behalf of a seller or don’t get to the seller on time for reimbursement. An important thing to remember is to follow the client’s specific instructions for reimbursements the first time. None of us can afford to waste the time and effort to get reimbursed. Once a client’s file is closed, it may be nearly impossible to get reimbursed. There are a number of pre-packaged software programs that can assist you in making your office more efficient. Some of the available programs are REO Maestro, REO Office Manager, Taza REO, Quick Books and Loanwolf Billing Software.
The industry is changing. We all have to continually change to meet its demands. We may have to delegate more to employees, which is hard to do. Strive to put new systems in place, train your staff well and perhaps departmentalize to change with the folks that send us work. While change is often hard to accomplish, in the long run, it will pay off. Also, remember that excellence in customer service has to be your first priority.
REOMAC member Dean Talaganis is the managing
attorney and district president for the Ohio operations of Morris | Hardwick | Schneider and LandCastle Title LLC. Talaganis frequently lectures and writes about matters related to title insurance, foreclosure, collections and ethics. He can be reached at 440.942.5168 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.