HUD USFN National Default Servicing Conference ’08

Robert Klein, CEO Safeguard Properties facilitated two sessions at the National Default Servicing Conference hosted by the USFN.? Both sessions were dedicated to discussing Preservation and Protection issues related to default servicing.? Robert was accompanied by a host of panelists consisting of representatives from HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, field service providers, and several servicers.

Leslie Bromer opened the first session with an update of anticipated mortgagee letters in process.? A mortgagee letter addressing the issues raised on the HUD Webinar Conference call in March has been written and is in clearance.? The letter is expected to address:
  • the winterization procedures regarding demand letters for small amounts of water left in the lines
  • clarification that second bids should not be requested when initial bids are less than $250.?

Servicers recognize the lengthy process of FHA publishing a new mortgagee letter and are using the HUD published presentation in their rebuttals of denied P&P requests.? Servicers are also using the presentation to work with M&M contractors to gain consistency in P&P responses.?

Ms. Bromer stated that FHA is working to coordinate a joint training session for both servicers and M&M contractors in an effort to work towards consistency in guideline interpretation.? It was strongly suggested that the GTR?s be required to attend the training session, since they are a source of inconsistency.?

The GTR?s are not acknowledging the clarifications in the HUD presentation from the webinar because it is not a published mortgagee letter.? Ms. Bromer stated that FHA will consider publishing the questions and answers on HUD?s P&P FAQ page on the web.?

A second mortgagee letter is expected to be released expanding the claims without conveyance process.? The pilot program for claims without conveyance has not shown much success for FHA in Ohio and Michigan; due to economic factors in these states.? The staff in Oklahoma City are monitoring the program and coordinating the foreclosure sale bids, but needs feedback from the servicers.

Ms. Bromer also provided an update on the initiatives suggested at the National P&P Conference in November 2007 to streamline property preservation procedures.? The P&P working group continued the conversation at the industry conferences that followed (MBA and USFN sponsored conferences).?

HUD is working toward the separation of mortgagee compliance from the procurement of new M&M contracts.? A lot of discussion has been held with the REO Directors and Oklahoma City staff to hire one contractor to manage the P&P requests and allow the M&M Contractors to solely focus on marketing and selling the property. Most of the current M&M Contracts do not expire until July 2009.

Flat Fee
It has become apparent that there will not be forward movement on the proposed flat fee for property preservation reimbursement as the flat fee is not feasible for smaller servicers.?

Maximum Allowable Cap
Establishment of a maximum cap for property preservation services is still being considered as a viable option to streamline the over allowable process.? FHA is reviewing the statistics that properties could convey 30-75 days faster if the P&P cap was higher.?

Cash For Key
FHA is also looking for more funding to motivate homeowners to relinquish their properties in better condition.? The funding would be directed to the cash for keys and deed in lieu programs specifically, which have been tremendously successful for servicers in their REO portfolios.?

The following additional issues were raised by the panelists and attendees of the session:

  1. Will HUD reconsider their clarification of debris removal following an eviction? HUD stated in the webinar conference summary that all debris removal associated with an eviction is to be removed by man hours at $20 per man hour.? Prior to this statement, servicers were following the guidelines for debris removed the same day at the direction of the sheriff and were removing debris by the CYD allowable when instructed to return to the property 48 hours, or more, after the eviction.? With the recent clarification of HUD?s interpretation, servicers are finding it increasingly difficult to get evictions completed.
  2. First and second bids are submitted for debris removal and for many other items requested by the M&M Contractor.? The M&M is approving a mixture of the bids from both contractors.? This process results in two contractors having to return to the property and each complete a portion of the convey condition work, which adds time to the conveyance process and creates confusion for servicers.
  3. Servicers are being cited for mortgagee neglect and late conveyance when minor freeze damages occur at the property while awaiting a personal property eviction.? The M&M contractors do not recognize that servicers cannot proceed to secure and winterize a property when personal property is on site.? Ms. Bromer suggested that servicers provide the documentation from the attorney to the M&M when not proceeding to complete work at the property.? Servicers would like HUD to issue guidelines based on the three categories of vacancy: 1) vacant and abandoned; 2) vacant with personals; and 3) vacant and maintained.? This would eliminate the discrepancies from the M&M contractors and GTR?s.
  4. M&M contractors routinely deny P&P requests for damages and ask servicers to file a hazard insurance claim, without recognizing that the amount of damages is well below the insurance deductible.? Ms. Bromer advised that servicers should note those details on the P&P request to avoid the confusion.
  5. Servicers have seen a recent increase in denied extension requests for additional time to convey while awaiting a decision on a hazard claim filing.? M&M contractors are indicating that servicers should have more control over the insurance company to settle the claim timely, which is not the case.? Examples should be forwarded to Ms. Bromer to address with the GTR?s.

VPR (Vacant Property Registration) Session:
The second P&P session was dedicated to issues surrounding the recent influx in vacant property registration requirements across the country.? Following a series of conference calls, the industry partnered to voice one response to the proposed ordinances in Chicago and then followed up to attend meetings to respond directly to city officials.? The city of Chicago was responsive to several concerns raised by the servicers in attendance.? Of particular importance was their acknowledgement that lenders/servicers cannot be held responsible for the property after registering the property prior to foreclosure sale.? A legal representative for the city acknowledged that lender/servicers registering the pre-sale properties is only to provide contact information to the city code enforcement.?

Another area of concern for servicers is how to handle de-registration when the property transfers to the investor or new owner.? The city of Chicago did not have a response.?

There are hundreds of cities across the nation devising some type of vacant property or foreclosure registration ordinance.? Each city has unique language and different fines and penalties associated.? With so many variables and the increasing number of delinquencies, it is nearly impossible for servicers to maintain compliance with each registration program.? These registration programs are a knee-jerk reaction to the small percentage of properties not being maintained.? City officials are not well informed as to the servicing policies and investor guidelines which require routine maintenance.?

It was suggested by Sherilee Massier, Manager Wells Fargo, and several other panelists to establish a working group to develop one suggested ?model? ordinance that servicers could send to individual cities in response to their proposed registration ordinances.? Robert Klein added that the servicing industry needs to reach out to the city code enforcement across the nation and begin to educate them regarding the investor guideline requirements and establish more efficient methods of communication to avoid blighted properties and neighborhoods.?

Unlike the lending and servicing industry, the city code enforcement industry does not have national trade groups or committees to disseminate information easily to the individual cities.? The US Conference of Mayors may be a good starting point for the industry to reach out and begin discussions.?

Robert Klein closed the session acknowledging that vacant property registration is going to happen regardless of efforts by the industry to halt.? Servicers and the industry need to come together now, early in the process, to work towards one registration procedure across the board.? He added that registration is a good thing for the property and the neighborhood; it is also good opportunity for the industry to begin to work more closely with the cities?(click?here).

Robert Klein, CEO Safeguard Properties facilitated two sessions at the National Default Servicing Conference hosted by the USFN.



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.