Industry Vets Launch New Default, REO Vendor

Industry veterans from Saxon Mortgage Services, now a unit of New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), and Fannie Mae (FNM) have formed a new REO outsourcer and default services provider, partnering with a Houston-based bank to take a distinct tack on the default business. Fort Worth, Tex.-based Canvas Realty Partners, an REO brokerage, said Monday it had partnered with Unity National Bank, NA to launch Unity Financial Services, a full-service REO and default management firm; Houston-based Unity National is one of three African-American controlled banks in the U.S., and the only such bank in Texas. Unity National owns a majority interest in Unity Financial Services, according to a press statement put out by the firm. Unity Financial Services will focus on three main activities: loss mitigation, recovery services on large portfolios of unsecured loans and REO asset management services. Troy Austin, a founder of Canvas Realty Partners and former general counsel for Saxon Mortgage Services’ loan servicing operation, will serve as the president of Unity Financial Services. “As we watched the economy continue to dive and Washington continue to try to respond, my partner at Canvas, Matt Faris, and I felt we could make a positive impact in helping to resolve this enormous problem facing our nation,” Austin explains. “The question was, ‘how do we get in front of the decision makers quickly enough to be able to help?’ The answer was in aligning with a group who already knew the decision makers and had political advantage, a group with vision, like Unity National Bank.” In other words, the new firm will look to leverage its status as a minority-owned business to grow a presence in a marketplace that is largely becoming influenced by government programs, which traditionally place value on performance-based diversity. Unity National is a certified member of the Treasury’s Minority Banking Deposit Program, and has been designated both as a Minority Business Enterprise and as a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) — such designations allow Unity National Bank to partner with numerous governmental organizations, corporations, non-profits, Austin said. The new company is actively seeking contracts with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and will soon be seeking contracts from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac as well. Canvas’ Austin isn’t the only long-time industry exec managing the new venture. Effie Booker will serve as executive vice president of sales and marketing for Unity Financial Services, the company said; she formerly served as regional director for Fannie Mae, senior vice president for Wells Fargo Bank, receiver for FSLIC, and asset manager for FDIC. “Unity Financial Services is actively seeking partners who can help us expand our service offering,” Austin said. “We have already entered into a formal relationship with one of the nation’s leading title and real estate service providers.” Write to Paul Jackson at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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