Jennifer Jozity Links Technology with Property Inspections and Risk

In the August issue of Mortgage Banking Magazine, Safeguard’s Jennifer Jozity, assistant vice president of inspection services, authored an article titled Wiring the Business of Property Inspections.

WIRING THE BUSINESS OF PROPERTY INSPECTIONS

One of the most visible flashpoints that increases the potential for risk is vacant defaulted and foreclosed homes that raise public concerns in neighborhoods and communities across the country.

Each month, Safeguard Properties performs occupancy inspections on nearly 2 million defaulted properties nationally. These are properties for which mortgage payments are more than 45 days late.

The sole purpose of the inspection is to verify the occupancy status and condition of the property, and report that information to the servicer.

On average, Safeguard’s internal records show that 15 percent to 20 percent of defaulted properties for which the company performs occupancy inspections will eventually be found vacant or abandoned by their owners.

Similarly, a June report by Irvine, California–based RealtyTrac Inc. found that approximately 20 percent of all U.S. properties in the foreclosure process had been vacated by owners prior to the foreclosure sale.

Mortgage companies are in a classic Catch-22 situation relative to vacant properties in their mortgage portfolios that have been abandoned by owners but have not gone through the foreclosure process. Failure to identify and secure abandoned properties in a timely manner can expose these properties to vandalism, damages and other events that can contribute to deterioration in condition and value. In many municipalities, servicers also are subject to severe fines and penalties for failure to protect vacant properties in their portfolios.

On the other hand, securing a defaulted property in error, believing it to be vacant, can expose a mortgage servicer, its field service vendor and the contractor performing services to potentially significant financial and legal liability, not to mention reputational risk.

To reduce these risks, Safeguard Properties designed and built its own INSPI® Mobile system for use by its inspectors in the field. It works with any mobile platform an inspector chooses—a tablet, iPhone®, iPad® or AndroidTM device.

The best way to demonstrate some of the risk-reduction benefits of Safeguard’s mobile application is to follow two examples in action.

Identifying a vacancy
Our first inspector is Dave. At the start of his day, he grabs his iPhone, uploads his work orders from Safeguard and uses the mobile application to prioritize his route based on the due dates, urgency and other factors identified in the system. He uses the GPS embedded in the system to plan the most efficient route.

Dave visits a brick ranch-style home. He has inspected it before, and it was occupied. Today he observes that the lawn isn’t mowed. Newspapers are piled on the porch. The utilities are turned off. A neighbor tells Dave the owners moved out a few weeks ago.

A comprehensive script built into the system prompts Dave through the process.

When he reports the vacancy, a special alert appears on-screen. It lets Dave know that the vacancy status requires additional information and additional photo documentation to support his observation. It reminds Dave to affix a vacancy notice sticker with Safeguard point-of-contact information for code enforcement officers, real estate agents or others who may visit the property.

Dave uses the embedded camera feature to snap the required photos and tag them with proper descriptions. He immediately transmits his report to Safeguard from the field. The work order is reviewed, the mortgage servicer is notified of the vacancy and orders are set in motion to secure the property.

Not only was this property secured two days sooner because of the immediate property report sent from the field, but the system ensured that Dave thoroughly documented evidence of vacancy before a property preservation contractor would be sent to the property to confirm the inspector’s findings and take steps to secure the property.

Change in property status
The second inspector we want to tag along with is Joe, who is midway through today’s inspection route. Throughout his day, at the request of the mortgage servicing client, when Joe visits an occupied property he leaves a discreet envelope that includes a contact card from the servicer as part of its defaulted borrower outreach. The card provides a phone number for the homeowner to call to discuss payment issues and seek assistance.

While Joe is on his route, the mortgage servicer sends Safeguard an update that the homeowner of one of the properties on Joe’s inspection list has filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy status means the servicer can no longer attempt to make contact with the homeowner.

Through the mobile application, Joe receives an immediate status update that tells him only “no contact” inspections are to be conducted at this property. He should not leave a contact envelope. Joe is able to comply immediately with the updated requirement.

The mobile application immediately notifies an inspector of any property status update that can either change the type of inspection he performs or cancel it altogether.

In addition to a notice of bankruptcy, updates are made when a loan becomes current and the homeowner no longer is in default, when a property is conveyed or sold to a third party or when a homeowner enters into a loss-prevention program with his or her mortgage company.

Built-in quality and protection
Beyond ensuring that inspections are thorough and that inspectors proceed accordingly, depending on the most current status of the property, the INSPI Mobile system builds quality and protection into every step of the inspections process.

Because the mobile system was built by Safeguard, it is fully integrated into the company’s internal system, providing access to property information for verification and accuracy, with embedded security and firewalls to protect the security of data.

This is especially important to help ensure that inspectors are at the correct property location. Especially in rural areas, property addresses are not always obvious, and it is imperative that inspectors find the right property. The mobile system helps them do that.

If an inspector, for example, reports that he is at a blue, vinyl-sided colonial, the system will immediately send an alert if the last inspections report showed that the property was a white bungalow. The inspector can use the information in real time to identify the correct property.

Safeguard’s internal system stores every bit of data history on a property. It stores the color, siding material and property style, as well as the number of garages a home has and whether out-buildings such as sheds and barns are present.

It prompts inspectors to identify and report broken windows and other security breaches so that these can be remedied immediately. When clients have special requirements for photos and other documentation, the system ensures they are followed.

Beyond using data to improve the quality and accuracy of inspections, Safeguard mines the data gathered from every inspection report to identify and predict trends and deploy resources more efficiently. We also provide data to our clients to assist with their property evaluation, management and disposition strategies. For example, data may help identify a need to expand an inspections network in a particular area or to help a mortgage servicer predict where larger numbers of mortgage defaults may occur.

In an ever-growing mobile society, virtually every business is becoming an eBusiness. The mortgage field services industry is no exception.

As we continue to view ourselves that way, leveraging automation, mobile technologies and other applications will ensure that our inspectors and contractors in the field hold one of the most effective tools to minimize property risk right in the palm of their hands.

Jennifer Jozity is assistant vice president of inspection services at Safeguard Properties, Valley View, Ohio. She can be reached at jennifer.jozity@safeguardproperties.com.

To view the article in PDF, please click here.

 

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders,  and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website: www.safeguardproperties.com.

x

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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.

x

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.

x

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

George Mehok

George Mehok is the chief information officer for Safeguard. He is responsible for all strategic technology decisions, new systems deployments and data center operations supporting a national network of more than 10,000 mobile workers.

George has more than 20 years of leadership experience dedicated to high-growth companies in the mobile telecommunications and financial services industries, spanning startups to global industry leaders.

George played a senior role in the formation of Verizon Wireless, leading the IT product development and strategic planning team. He led the integration planning for the Verizon merger including: GTE, Vodafone-AirTouch, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo.

As chief information officer at Revol Wireless, a VC-backed CDMA wireless communications network operator, George’s team implemented an integrated technology infrastructure and award-winning business intelligence platform.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He is a board member of Akron University’s School of Business Center for Information Technology, in addition to an advisory board member for OHTec.

In 2013, George won the Crain’s Cleveland Business CIO of the Year award for his team’s work in completing a major acquisition and technology transformation at Safeguard. In 2015, George’s team was recognized by InformationWeek’s annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative U.S.-based users of business technology. The mobile inspection technology developed at Safeguard was selected as InformationWeek’s “One of the top 20 ideas to steal in 2015”.

x

General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard, with oversight responsibilities for the legal, human resources, training, compliance and audit departments. Linda’s broad scope of oversight covers regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, pro-active risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human capital and training initiatives, compliance and audit services, litigation and claims management, and counsel related to mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda’s oversight of the legal department along with multiple compliance and human capital focused departments assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans almost 20 years, and Linda’s experience, both as outside and in-house counsel, covers a wide range of corporate matters, including 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.

x

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.

x

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.

x

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.

x

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.

x

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.

x

AVP, Business Development

Tim Rath

Tim Rath is the AVP of business development for Safeguard. He is responsible for developing innovative growth strategies for Safeguard and developing and overseeing potential partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim joined Safeguard in 2011 as project director and has filled numerous roles within Vendor Management, most recently serving as director of vendor management, a role he assumed in 2011.

Prior to Safeguard, Tim worked as director of supply chain at PartsSource Inc. in Aurora, Ohio, a provider of medical replacement parts, procurement solutions and healthcare supply chain management technology services. He also has held sales positions with Rexel, ComDoc, and Pier Associates, all based in Ohio.

Tim holds a degree in marketing and sales from The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He also earned his FAA Certified Commercial UAS (Drone) Pilot license in 2017.