Sun Newspapers “Safeguard Properties is on duty”
Sun Newspapers reporter Mark Holan recently?accompanied?Safeguard Properties’ Paul Carlozzi, Field Services QC Manager, on a field ride of foreclosed properties in Northeast Ohio. An article in Garfield Heights Sun News tells the story.
Safeguard Properties is on duty
By Mark Holan
In this time of fractured families and home foreclosures, Safeguard Properties Inc., a company that manages vacant houses for banks and other lenders, has grown by leaps and bounds.
As a company that had slightly more than 100 employees a few years ago, Safeguard now has 600 employees, 500 of whom work out of the Brooklyn Heights office. Safeguard is the largest privately held mortgage fieldservices company in the country. It inspects and maintains all types of defaulted and foreclosed properties in the United States, Puerto Rico
and the Virgin Islands for financial institutions, mortgage servicers and investors.
Every month, Paul Carlozzi, of the Brooklyn Heights office, and other inspectors and field supervisors conduct default
inspections on more than 800,000 properties and maintenance orders on about 200,000 properties across the nation.
On a recent field trip, Carlozzi checked on several homes in Maple Heights and Lakewood, showing how Safeguard secures homes in various stages of the default-vacancy-foreclosure process. In the past month, Safeguard managed 63 properties
in Garfield Heights, 73 in Maple Heights and 23 in Lakewood.
Homes that go into default
When a homeowner is 45 or 60 days late on payment (depending on the guidelines of the lender), Safeguard will begin a monthly visual inspection of the property to verify occupancy. As long as the home is occupied and the mortgage is in default, Safeguard will contioue monthly inspections.
In Maple Heights, Carlozzi checked a house that homeowners had left a few weeks home, Carlozzi shouted, “Contractor!”
He shouted that, he said, because “squatters” and other vagrants sometimes gain access through forceful
Everything looked OK except for a broken window in the dining room. The copper plumbing, often the first thing to be stolen out of a vacant home, remained intact. In some inner-city neighborhoods, homeowners paint “No copper plumbing” on the front of their houses to discourage scavengers from entering the house.
Once a house is vacant — either because the owner abandoned it or the servicer performed an eviction — Safeguard begins its “property preservation” process. The goal is to assure the property does not deteriorate and that it doesn’t pose a nuisance (safety, security, vandalism, unsightly appearance) to the neighborhood.
During the “P&P” phase, Safeguard will cut the grass on a regular basis and remove any yard debris. The plumbing will be “winterized” using anti-freeze, and the company will take care of any rodents or insects and secure windows and doors.
Safeguard will not remove any of the homeowner’s personal possessions at this point.
In fact, if you drive down the street, you probably won’t notice a home that was secured in this manner. That’s the whole point. Safeguard even puts leaflets on neighbors’ doors with a phone number to call if the residents notice anything that needs the company’s attention.
Homes that have gone through foreclosure
Houses that have gone through the foreclosure sale are owned by the bank/investor. Safeguard will remove trash from the interior of the house, clean the house, replace light bulbs, install air fresheners, etc.
Depending on the condition of the house and its potential marketability, repairs will be done to make it more attractive to prospective buyers.
On Erwin Street in Maple Heights, a home is ready for a new owner. Carlozzi said Safeguard removed a tractor-trailer-load of debris from the home. Passers-by can’t tell from its present condition. A real estate company’s sign is in the front window. According to a real estate agent, the price is $24,900.
Two houses directly to the south also are for sale. It’s a trend that challenges home sales in neighborhoods.
In the eastern end of Lakewood, Carlozzi inspected a house recently vacated by former owners.
A neighbor kept coming out to see who was entering the house.
“Nosy neighbors are a bank’s best friend,” Carlozzi laughed.
From the outside, passers-by can’t tell the house is vacant, although it needs repairs inside. Carlozzi’s only immediate exterior concern is graffiti that was spray-painted on the side and rear of the house.
Carlozzi jotted down his findings to make sure another home was secured.
At any point in time, Safeguard manages 15,000 to 20,000 properties in northeast Ohio. To reach Safeguard, call (216) 739-2900 or visit safeguardproperties.com.