Tampa Bay Nonprofits Rehabbing Foreclosed Homes Under Federal Program

Industry Update
December 27, 2015

TAMPA — Tampa Bay nonprofits will get first crack at purchasing, rehabilitating and selling foreclosed houses owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under an expanded federal initiative that began this month.

Though foreclosure numbers continue to drop, between 700 to 1,200 foreclosed homes still remain in the Tampa metro area in need of rehabilitation and new occupants.

As part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative, nonprofits in this area and 17 regions nationwide can buy the homes and get them back in shape.

The initiative, jointly developed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage lenders. is designed to stabilize neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing downturn. The nonprofits will partner with the National Community Stabilization Trust.

The impact of the program can be far-reaching, from helping those in need of a home to improving the property values of the neighborhood.

“The more foreclosures there are in a neighborhood, the more adverse effects they have on property values,” said Tim Wilmath, director of valuation for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office.

“In most cases when a property is foreclosed, you almost always have condition issues,” Wilmath said. Run-down abandoned houses — some boarded up with the previous owners furniture and trash strewn across a weed-infested lawn grass — can devalue neighboring houses by as much as 25 percent, he said.

“The idea is to get these homes occupied again, with quick and certain sales,” said Megan Moore, special adviser to the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. “You don’t want communities of investors, but of homeowners and renters who have a vested interest. Each (non-profit) buyer may focus on specific neighborhoods or only first-time buyers or just on veterans. The one thing we are trying to do is get them occupied.”

One of the problems would-be home buyers have had through the entire housing downturn is competition with investment buyers, said Ernest Coney, CEO of the nonprofit CDC of Tampa. “We’re really excited about the program because it really will help offer more inventory, especially in the affordable housing space, which is drastically needed in the Tampa market.

“We found a lot of residents who were trying to purchase homes were getting outbid every time by investors,” Coney said. “This program will create an opportunity for residents to gain direct access.”

Here is how it works: A nonprofit gets notified that a house is available and then has 12 days to look at it and evaluate it and decide whether to purchase the house, which could either be rehabilitated or torn down.

According to RealtyTrac, a national real estate trend tracker, there are plenty to choose from. One in every 65 houses in Hillsborough County is in foreclosure. While that is a drop of 38.5 percent in a year, it is still high on a national scale. In Hernando County, one in 61 houses is in foreclosure. Pinellas County is faring the best in the region, with one in every 81 houses in foreclosure, down 42.9 percent from November 2014. Pasco is doing the worst, with one in every 54 houses at some point in foreclosure.

“We can purchase the home and go in and rehab the home to make it brand new and provide that to someone who is looking for a first-time home,” Coney said. “We are also a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, so we have a lot of people that have taken our classes (for first-time home buyers) and we know who will qualify” to buy.

For the CDC of Tampa, the goal is to get back what it puts into a house, he said, and to provide affordable housing.

Even if one of these houses is torn down, it will benefit the neighbors, Wilmath said. “Some of these houses are too far gone to rehabilitate, but by tearing them down, it removes a blighted property that could have been used for drugs or other illegal activity. Just removing it is going to have a positive impact on surrounding property values,” he said.

In Pinellas County, Community Land Trust will focus on purchasing these homes for resale to low and moderate income families, said Marquaz McGhee, the nonprofit’s housing services director. “A family that makes $37,800 is still able to purchase a house in Clearwater. That is 80 percent of the median income for the area.”

Even if the houses are advertised on the open market, he said, Community Land Trust can establish income requirements so that the houses only go to low- and moderate-income families.

Nicole Lytwyn, a 22-year-old recent University of Florida graduate, has already benefitted from a similar program Community Land Trust has been involved with partnering with the City of Clearwater. Lytwyn closes on a renovated house on Neptune Avenue Dec. 29.

“I was looking for eight months and I could not find any decent home in my price range,” Lytwyn said. “Everything was either almost condemned or because it’s a seller’s market, first-time homeowners can’t afford the prices.” Lytwyn said she’s in love with the house she is purchasing from Community Land Trust and believes others can benefit like she did from the expanded federal program.

“Especially people like me who are just starting out,” this will be a great program, she said.

McGhee said his agency hopes to purchase 15 houses in 2016 under the expanded federal program.

Already, Community Land Trust has been involved in such purchases and resales, including the house on Neptune Avenue. It had a leaky roof, needed a kitchen remodel and other upgrades, he said. It had numerous code violations. Now, it has a new owner who is a Clearwater native and vested in the community.

“We buy, then take out the cost of the land and up-front pricing. That house sold for $134,000, instead of $182,000,” McGhee said.

The houses being sold through the federal initiative have a value of $75,000 to $175,000.

“This is a federal program that actually works,” McGhee said.

Organizations interested in purchasing the foreclosed homes must first become a National Community Stabilization Trust community buyer, Moore said.

She called it a “great and unique opportunity” for all parties. The initiative was first offered as a pilot program in Detroit, Chicago and in Cook County, Illinois. “What we learned,” Moore said, “is that this can be replicated. We’ve seen in the pilots that this can work.”

In addition to the Tampa Bay region, the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative has also expanded into the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area, Jacksonville and into the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro area.

Source: The Tampa Tribune



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.