We are entering 2021 full of cautious optimism and anticipation. We hope to see more in-person interactions, moratoriums being lifted, and some normalcy returned to our daily jobs and our industry. Last year brought many unique challenges, and our industry successfully faced them head-on. While we have a lot to be optimistic about with the new year, we will likely see new obstacles that we must work together to overcome.
The number of loans in forbearance remains elevated. Many properties have not had inspections completed in months. Unidentified vacant properties due to fewer inspections will bring inevitable community blight. If properties are vacant and mortgage servicers are not aware of the vacancy, no postings will be placed on properties. As a result, concerned neighbors, police officers or code enforcement officials are unable to determine who to contact. Due to this, municipalities receive these calls instead of property preservation companies, resulting in violations and potential deterioration of the properties.
With warmer months quickly approaching, grass and overgrowth will once again be a challenge. When landscaping is not appropriately managed, complaints from neighbors and HOA’s will commence, resulting in cities issuing fines. Also, as we approach the warmer spring months, we are preparing for seasonal weather events like tornados. The last few years have brought significant technological enhancements to assist with disaster preparedness. However, the best satellite imagery and storm tracking still can’t replace physical presence at the properties. It is critical to have inspections completed to assess damage and understand the risk posed to properties when disasters strike.
As an industry, continued education and routine communication to the investors and insurers are more important than ever. In the last year, the focus has rightfully been on aiding mortgagors. While continuing to aid those who have been struggling financially, it is important not to lose sight of the value behind these inspections. Neighborhood safety and property values are important for all borrowers, and these inspections help to ensure properties are being cared for and neighborhood blight is avoided.