September 17th, 2010, The Norris Group returns with its award winning event I Survived Real Estate 2010. The Norris Group has assembled an incredible line up of industry experts to discuss the state of REO from the inside. Topics will include regulatory intervention and aftermath, bulk buying, myths and facts, and opportunities emerging for real estate professionals. 100 percent of the proceeds support the Orange County affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This event would not be possible without generous help from the following platinum partners: Foreclosure Radar and Sean O’Toole, the San Diego Creative Real Estate Investors Association and Bill Tan, Investors Workshops and Shawn Watkins and Angel Bronsgeest, Invest Club for Women and Iris Veneracion and Bobby Alexander, Claudia Buys Houses, The Business Press, Frye Wiles, MVT Productions, and White House Catering.
This week Bruce is joined by Ivan Choi. He is a fifteen year veteran in mortgage banking with a background in finance, technology, retail loan origination, and servicing. He just started his own company called Savia Home Loans. Also, he is president of REOMac; a national non-profit trade organization.
Ivan currently lives in Corona, and previously lived in Irvine. For the last 15 years he has been working in retail mortgage banking. For 14 of those years, he worked with Countrywide Home Loan, which was acquired by Bank of America. He worked with Bank of America for another year, and then decided to start his own mortgage banking company. He has a second job with a national REO outsourcing company.
Mortgage banking is different than mortgage brokering. A mortgage broker originates loans, and puts them through to a major bank for funding. The broker attempts to find the best possible fit, and best possible pricing, for the homebuyer. The mortgage banker is fulfilling loans directly out of their own funding capacity. The money that a mortgage banker uses is essentially his or her own.
Presently, it is very difficult to start a mortgage banking company, because of the meltdown. Another prominent mortgage executive, who worked with one of the big banks until 2008, decided to start his own mortgage banking company. The biggest warehouse line he was able to get was worth about $700,000. That is not worth a week’s worth of loans.
Once your loan money is entirely lent out, you can try to keep that loan in your books, or you can try to sell it to an investor. That investor will provide you with liquidity to buy and sell another loan. You can either sell the underlying note and service the loan yourself, or you can sell both the note and the servicing rights. This is not understood by all people, but servicing rights to the loan has a certain monetary value as well.
In 2006, mortgage bankers were amazed by how generous loan guidelines were. On the flip side, when the mortgage market melted down, Ivan could not believe how difficult it was to obtain credit. We swung the pendulum from allowing too many people to obtain credit, to now allowing too few to obtain it. What is traditionally observed as a “makes sense” loan is now very difficult to obtain.
The present model of mortgage banking is that an originator makes a lot of loans for home buyers, they then package those loans into securities and sell them on the secondary market. Unfortunately, the demand for those securities in the secondary market has dried up, so we no longer have the liquidity that mortgage originators relied on to make loans in the first place. That is why many of those “makes sense” loans can no longer be made today. Currently, Fannie, Freddie, and FHA make up over 70% of the business for mortgage originators and lenders.
New Vista Asset Management Company is a San Diego-based company established 4 years ago by two veterans of the mortgage banking business. The two partners, Jim Park and Jerry Acosta, have a lot of connections both in the mortgage industry and the political world. New Vista serves as an REO asset management company. Any bank that cannot handle REO inventory can hire a company like New Vista to offload those REOs. New Vista is special because it is a multicultural company. Normally, Ivan does not pay attention to the cultural differences between companies, however, this is currently a significant difference because the government is more willing to work with culturally diverse businesses.
Inventory levels have changed pretty dramatically over the last couple years. Foreclosure inventory has been building up for the past couple years. This is because the foreclosure process has slowed down. Ivan believes it will take another 6 to 12 months before we can feel that we are in a foreclosure market. This will be a big relief for real estate agents, because many of them were hurt in 2007 and 2008.
Ivan defines “shadow inventory” as the backlog of foreclosures that have not yet finished the foreclosure process. When people use the term shadow inventory, they often use it to imply there was some evil conspiracy by big banks and the government to artificially hold in properties from the market to do 1 of 2 things: 1) to hold properties back and parcel them out, on a limited basis, to preserve valuations and earn a better return than what they would have received. 2) Mortgage bankers are holding inventory from the market to play magic accounting on the backside, which enables them to put out good quarterly earnings reports, so that their stocks won’t drop. As a former worker for Countrywide and Bank of America, Ivan believes these theories to be untrue.
Fannie and Freddie have double the REOs from last year, but the REO agents do not. Fannie expects approximately 1 million properties to finish the foreclosure process between the 4th quarter of 2010 and the 1st quarter of 2011. Asset management companies and banks can only process so many of those properties. Ivan believes that California cities are probably not capable of getting rid of that many properties with their current level of staff.
In 2008, Mike Novak-Smith had 900 REO listings. Today, he has 105, yet Fannie has double their amount of REOs. There does seem to be a disconnect between their ability to get properties onto the market. Perhaps the players have shifted, and the GSEs are understaffed.
On another topic, delinquencies are very high. In California, delinquency numbers have gone from 5% to 12% in the last 18 months, yet foreclosure numbers have gone down. Bruce believes that lenders do not actually own all these properties. Bruce believes that banks are refusing to foreclose on properties.
The government is involved in the foreclosure process now. There is a huge motivation for the federal government to modify loans or do short sales. The major servicers are now paranoid about going through the normal foreclosure process now, because if they do not fully document everything without offering ever possible solution to the borrower, the government will attack them. If the government believes the lender could have offered a loan modification but chose not to, then the lender gets dragged through the mud. There is a lot of pressure on the lenders to find other solutions.
REOMAC is having an educational event in October in Hollywood, Florida. The title of the event is “New Challenges, New Approaches”. The industry is preparing for a very different new year. Banks and servicers must satisfy their homeowners and their loan investors. At the same time, the government is beating up the banks. The end result is that we have a lot of government initiative and legal changes. The servicer must still find a way to make everyone happy, including the loan investor who has ultimate responsibility for the underlying note. Ivan believes many of the changes in 2011 will be legal related. Ivan does not believe there will be much of a change in public perception, because now everyone has had their shot at beating up people involved in the real estate industry.
The REO business is a very low margin business, and you must have a big team to run a lot of volume. REO inventory has decreased so dramatically that many professional REO broker shops have had to lay off people in the midst of the impending surge in inventory. All the good REO brokers are trying to figure out ways to scale up rapidly, because they don’t want to get caught with their pants down. It’s a Catch 22, because you can’t staff up too far in advance, but you still want to be ready when the opportunity hits.
HAFA guidelines were released on April 1st. Those guidelines were a game changer, because it caused the government to be heavily involved in mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing. Ivan does not believe that short sales will pick up to the high degree that we need them to pick up. Short sale numbers are increasing right now, but when you compare the overall number of short sales to the number of foreclosures, you can see that short sale numbers are still very small. REO is where all the business is going to go.
The event for REOMAC is taking place on October 20th thru the 23rd in Hollywood, Florida. It is the 25th anniversary of a very worthwhile organization.
For more information about The Norris Group’s California hard money loans or our California Trust Deed investments, visit the website or call our office at 951-780-5856 for more information. For upcoming California real estate investor training and events, visit The Norris Group website and our California investor calendar. You’ll also find our award-winning real estate radio show on KTIE 590am at 6pm on Saturdays or you can listen to over 170 podcasts in our free investor radio archive.
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