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How to Use Data to Better Support Field Services in a Dwindling Foreclosure Environment

September 7, 2023

As an industry, a steady decline in mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures means adapting to smaller volumes. With this constriction, servicers have a heightened focus on streamlining processes and assessing asset risk and cost. This often comes down to one word: data. 

Whether it's breaking down silos, understanding milestones, or setting the infrastructure for success, the role of data in achieving property excellence is ever expanding. 

Breaking down silos is critical to delivering proper processes

In today’s environment, accessing as much information as quickly as possible to make the right decisions is pivotal in providing mortgage services, especially within the confines of the regulations from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). 

Servicers have a variety of teams, third-party vendors and technology systems that they rely on for data to help to make decisions and develop processes to support strategic initiatives based on this historical data--the foreclosure team, the REO team, the preservation team, the loss mitigation team, and the claims team. These teams don’t always communicate with each other and usually operate their section of the process based on their own policies, procedures, and data. 

To meet goals, as an industry, we’ve cut down processes into individual steps with specific teams to deliver. How many times does one property get reviewed? How many decisions are made each time the property is touched? Why wasn’t the best decision made the first time?  

If information and the people making decisions are siloed, the process becomes disjointed and things can more easily fall through the cracks. 

The right infrastructure helps aggregate data for a holistic view

Often, on top of operational silos, boutique vendors make the picture harder to see. For instance, while a boutique vendor with a special focus on one part of the process can understand the milestones from A to B, an end-to-end provider understands A to Z and even some of the areas in between that servicers might be missing. It’s not enough to simply consider loss mitigation or foreclosure but how each set of milestones impacts each other—and what data points can help servicers tell the full story.

This is no doubt a complex and time-consuming process. Within that process, there is also a requirement for a higher level understanding of what data points and attributes carry the most risk and really have the most influence over the field services being delivered to consumers. While there are servicing platforms that try to bring all of these data points together, servicers often extrapolate the data through a homegrown set of models. 

But, the technology locked in these different homegrown structures isn’t sophisticated enough to retrieve all of this data. For instance, four different field service providers could all be using the same servicing platform for a client, but since they each have their own proprietary system of record, it can still yield different data and different results.

Therefore, when working with internal teams or third-party service providers, servicers need to ensure these vendors are intimately familiar with all of the different milestones that can accompany a property. 

Leveraging the historical and predictive nature of new data and technology

It’s critical to understand how different milestones directly or indirectly influence the value of every asset. What distinguishes some businesses from others is how they leverage technology and the data that is available to them at all of these different touchpoints. Time is money and the faster the condition of the property is reported, the more proactive the servicer can be. 

In a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is driving new innovations and insights, we have more information available to us now than ever before. Information along the time continuum provides historical data and insights into the future, enabling the industry to make educated predictions. More companies now have the means to tell a story about a property and capture data and images across various stages to determine the quality and condition of a specific asset.

We are currently in a time where we can do fly-overs, leverage drones, obtain satellite and 3D images, pull actual photos from appraisals and field inspections with a corresponding date and pull MLS data photos. These are all extremely valuable and enhanced abilities that add significant value to the process.

Sophisticated companies are overlaying data with building cards and imagery for a more complete 360 degree view of a property and to peek into its DNA. Blending data and imagery is now a real possibility and using machine learning (patterns and inference) and AI (visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, etc.) helps to not only paint a real-time picture, but review the history and even make predictions about the future. 

Using data modeling to understand the impact of risk and uncertainty helps to visualize all the potential outcomes to make the best decision for a property and the bottom line. The mortgage and real estate space is moving toward leveraging more data and technology than ever before and has quickly come to the realization that doing so is imperative to success, expediency, quality checks, automation and cost savings. 

Whether it’s simply breaking down the silos around data or standardizing the extrapolation of that data into a process improvement, servicers need to consider all of their data points and how best to leverage them. Protecting servicers’ return on investment can look like a single client dashboard or a complete outsource to a vendor.

Either way, it’s all about being holistic. Nothing happens in a vacuum, not even data.