New Portals Provide Sneak Previews of Bank-Owned Properties

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The recovery of the mortgage market relies partly on banks' ability to quickly sell the real estate properties they own to new buyers. This need is spawning new tech solutions designed to facilitate sales by connecting lenders, agents, buyers and sellers more quickly.

RES.NET, for example, recently expanded its network of real estate transaction portals to accommodate faster connections between buyers and sellers of bank owned properties (or REO — "real estate owned"). RES.NET will now allow agents and brokers to tag bank-owned, short sale or resale properties as prelisted homes for borrowers and investors to view before they are officially listed for sale on broader public venues such as the multiple listing service (MLS).

Buyers and sellers can use the RES.NET platform to contact agents to begin the sale process of prelisted homes. The prelistings include a description of the home and photos as well as contact information for the listing agent and buyer's agent. "There's a competitive advantage to being first," says Todd Mobraten, RES.NET's chief operating officer.

RES.NET's clients include financial institutions, Realtors and real estate investors. Users see the new additions to the portal as a way to broaden relationships with servicers, sellers and other parties in their local real estate market. The participants can engage with each other on a property and its price to get an early picture of demand and pricing.

"If the numbers don't work, I won't waste my time or the seller's time," says Gil Manzuri, founder of the Manzuri Group, a real estate agency serving the Los Angeles area. "I don't have to leave my desk to check out what's out there."

RES.NET is a subsidiary of USRES, which sells a range of services to different stakeholders in the residential mortgage industry, such as lenders, appraisers and agents. For lenders, it supplies a range of REO disposition services, such as valuation management, marketing management, offer management and closing management. The new web prelisting service will be part of RES.NET's family of portals that serve a network of parties involved in the mortgage process. These stakeholders use centralized workflow software to communicate with each other, track properties, submit purchase inquiries, and make other requests.

"It allows marketing properties to contacts…There's the ability to decrease turnaround time," says Rob Pajon, a vice president at RES.NET.

Other efforts to streamline REO sales are coming from default servicing technology companies such as Equator. Equator just released EQagent Mobile, a mobile servicing solution that allows access to Equator's default servicing platform, the EQ Platform, via mobile phones. The default servicing platform includes a mix of virtual workstations, dashboards and portals to perform default and REO-related tasks, and is used by lenders, mortgage insurers, servicers, vendors and government entities. The new mobile platform, available on Android and Apple, lets users receive and respond to messages, upload photos to the EQ Platform and view short sale and REO information.

The new technology comes at the same time as news suggesting that other loss mitigation strategies aren't performing well, which could increase the number of bank-owned properties going forward. According to JPMorgan, defaults of modified loans are increasing. JPMorgan (JPM) said more than 28,000 modified home loans became delinquent in September, an increase of 24% over August and the highest level in two years.

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