InsightsExpect the Best, Prepare for the Worst: Best Practices for Property Preservation as Part of Disaster Preparedness

If you thought 2020 was a wild ride, this year’s hurricane season is on track to keep the housing market on its toes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Prediction Center is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season extending from June 1 through November 30. For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected.1 If this year’s season plays out like 2020, working with a single national property preservation provider rather than multiple regional providers could be the smartest decision servicers make in 2021.

Property Preservation providers are an important part of helping servicers and investors keep an eye on their assets before and after weather events. Property Preservation companies can perform multiple services from simple inspections to get a quick view of a property, its condition and occupancy to doing actual preventive maintenance, property upkeep and repairs.

“Having a property preservation partner that can aggregate the damage information and target impacted areas across geographies enables a much more efficient response,” says Anthony Scotese, Vice President, Operations, in ServiceLink’s Field Services division.

ServiceLink provides property preservation services that are in tune with the ever-changing industry requirements surrounding the preservation of properties. “Our standard reporting covers historical concerns and areas of importance from our clients, and custom reporting is available when needed,” says Samantha Saggio, Vice President, Field Services Vendor Management. “ServiceLink is also constantly evolving our current product offering to meet the varying needs of customers including servicers, asset management companies and investors."

ServiceLink Field Services (SLFS) monitors FEMA and weather indicators to watch for potential weather events and disaster declarations. When a disaster has been identified, SLFS communicates the awareness to our clients and offers services for inspections on their impacted portfolio.

Once inspections have been completed, the servicer can determine which of the default and vacant properties require hazard claims. They can also use inspection results as the basis for outreach to impacted homeowners within their current non-delinquent portfolios. “Some servicers take this opportunity to initiate discussions with borrowers on their options, in case they need assistance or an exception of any kind,” says Saggio.

“Proactive and comprehensive communications from the property preservation company are essential to helping servicers and their borrowers protect their assets and get the insurance quotes they need,” says Scotese. “We offer servicers the peace of mind of having one source that helps them understand the impacts of the hurricane on their portfolio from a default — and non-default—perspective. They can find out which of their borrowers were and were not impacted, determine where disaster claims need to be filed and then help their borrowers file those claims, since the broad scope and traumatic nature of hurricanes can make it difficult for them to figure out what to do. We help our clients take their own proactive approach in managing that borrower experience.”

Where repairs for roof damage, flooding, electrical and plumbing issues etc., are needed, ServiceLink can provide bids to get the work done, and oversee and provide progress reports on the repairs. “Addressing damages quickly after discovery can help prevent them from getting worse,” Saggio says, adding that, “ServiceLink also keeps its clients informed of any circumstances obstructing access to areas, thus causing delays in work performance or the ability of homeowners to return to their property.”

“Property preservation providers play an integral role with servicers.” Scotese concludes. “I can tell you we are ready, willing, and able to assist our clients in managing disaster response at any level desired. There is absolutely no reason a servicer needs to panic when a storm hits — even in a dangerous hurricane season like this one. If they have the right partner, they can be assured of prompt, reliable support.”

For more information about ServiceLink Field Services, visit svclnk.com/servicers.

1Gaches, Lauren, May 20, 2021, “NOAA predicts another active Atlantic hurricane season,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-predicts-another-active-atlantic-hurricane-season

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