Recently, a report from the National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA) addressed the issue of vacant and abandoned properties in regard to instituting policies that standardize procedures, definitions, and best practices. The report, which was developed with input from several NMSA member organizations such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank United, Selene Finance, and others, sparked conversation amongst industry leaders nationwide.“I’ve seen the worst of the worst and I’ve seen what vacant properties do to the property itself, the value, and the communities,” said Founder and Chairman of Community Blight Solutions Robert Klein. “I think that no plywood boarding, which has been adopted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the VA, is definitely a step in the right direction where we don’t advertise vandalism and we don’t advertise vacant properties.”Based on research, the paper discusses how extended periods of vacancy encourage vandalism, squatting, and violent crime—specifically a 19 percent increase in the number of reported crimes per year within 250 feet of a foreclosed home. Klein explained that the concept of combining all the Government Sponsored Enterprises and determining one format of how the industry will protect and preserve the property issues can be summed up in one phrase: “it’s about time.”“This should’ve been done years ago,” Klein said. “There really is no reason why we have different GSEs all focused on preserving and protecting vacant properties. Why different guidelines should apply to each problem would make life much easier for preserving and protecting the property, for the communities, for the mortgage servicers, and for the GSEs as well.”Jim Taylor, SVP of Property Preservation at Wells Fargo and Chairman of the NMSA subcommittee on vacant and abandoned properties, and Gui Kahl, SVP of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and NMSA representative from Wells Fargo, in a joint statement agreed that implementing these ideas will be beneficial for all.“Finding common ground through the pursuit of these policy recommendations will create meaningful benefits for the consumer, the communities, and investors,” said Taylor and Kahl. “More importantly, such common ground supports NMSA’s leadership and partnership in the pursuit of our mutual mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and the quality of affordable homes for all.”The NMSA wants to define terms such as “occupied,” “unoccupied,” “vacant,” and “abandoned.” Because most times vacant and abandoned properties have to go through the same process as a home that remains occupied by the consumer, the likelihood of properties going into states of disrepair is much higher, resulting in detrimental effects on the consumer and lower property values for the neighborhood. The National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST) said in a unified comment that aligning key definitions, guidance, and best practices across all sectors of the industry and regulatory framework is important to them and they are eager to be a part of it.“In particular, NCST supports NMSA’s efforts to standardize definitions relating to occupancy status of a residential property,” said NCST. “There is no universally accepted taxonomy across the mortgage servicing industry, and where definitions exist at all, they are frequently in conflict, making it difficult for property preservation managers to ensure that they adhere to all relevant rules.”Specifically, according to NCST, “vacant” and “abandoned” are used interchangeably too often, and the proposed distinctions are nuanced and useful.“Of particular benefit is the distinction between “unoccupied” and “vacant” in assessing whether a property should be secured and maintained by the servicer, the former status accounting for scenarios and life events such as a homeowner or lawful tenant’s vacation, sabbatical, or long-term hospitalization,” said NCST. “As NMSA works to build industry consensus for the adoption of these standard definitions, we encourage a collaborative approach that brings together community, consumer and industry voices.”As the NMSA looks to handle this pressing subject, Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado said he welcomes additional feedback from industry professionals and experts.“The issue of vacant and abandoned properties has been at the forefront of the mortgage industry for decades,” said Delgado. “I am pleased to see such a favorable response from the industry towards the NMSA paper, that by design offers real solutions. I look forward to a collaborative discussion with federal agencies, business leaders, and mortgage companies and continuing to work with communities to address such an important subject.”To view the NMSA white paper, click here. 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The Scot suggested at one point that the hardest part of the midfield enforcer was his tongue, a barb which produced a cutting response. A smiling Keane said: “Well, what do you think? I kick pretty hard. “I think it was a cheap dig. He was never critical when we were winning trophies and he was getting his new contracts, getting this after him, Sir this. “He was not pulling me or other players, saying, ‘Listen, you need to relax a bit’. That was the game and I appreciate the game. The game finished, but it was all the carry on afterwards.” While Keane moved on to Celtic to finish his playing days before himself heading into management, Ferguson rebuilt once again at Old Trafford before retiring in a blaze of glory, leaving the club in a period of transition which created issues for successor David Moyes that are currently being addressed by Louis van Gaal. However, Keane does not blame his former manager for what he left behind. He said: “I wouldn’t be critical of Ferguson, but sometimes when you’re leaving, it gives the manager a chance to make their own mark. He (Moyes) brought in one or two players, didn’t get the players clearly that he was after in the summer. “But I don’t think that’s the manager, it’s the chief executive (Ed Woodward) who can probably look at himself. I’m sure if you ask the chief exec, he will say, ‘Yeah, we missed out on a few deals’. There were two or three lined up that fell through, and they ended up getting one or two on transfer deadline day, (Juan) Mata in January. “But maybe the damage was done then. I was going to Old Trafford and there was a lot of negativity around. They got no momentum and it was as if David Moyes was snookered from the first few weeks. “That negativity can get into the dressing room, and that’s why I felt it was a weak dressing room. They should have dealt with that and the players should have done better. “I saw a number of games and whatever has gone on – politics, managers leaving, lack of players coming in – they should have done better and they did let him down, without a shadow of a doubt.” In the book, Keane talks candidly about his issues with alcohol and anger, and the mistakes he has made during his career to date, and it has proved a cathartic exercise. However, asked if it has been hard work being Roy Keane at times, and if he now likes himself more, he replied with a smile: “That’s a bit heavy. I’m contented and comfortable with who I am, yeah.” Roy Keane has warned Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho he would be “knocked out” if he tried to shake hands before the final whistle in Sunday league football. Press Association “I’ve seen him doing it to other managers, it is a disgrace. The game is still going on. You wouldn’t do that on a Sunday morning, you would get knocked out.” But while Mourinho found himself in the firing line, it was Keane’s former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson upon whom the spotlight fell as Keane discussed the falling-out between the pair as his time at Old Trafford drew to a close in 2005. The relationship between the two men deteriorated beyond the point of no return with the then United captain’s infamous MUTV interview and his reference to Ferguson’s involvement with the syndicate which owned racehorse Rock of Gibraltar helping to bring matters to a head. Keane, who insisted he only ever had ” five, six” one-to-one talks with the Scot during his 12 and a half years at United, was nevertheless not afraid to have his say, but admitted other managers were intimidated by Ferguson. He said: “I think a lot of managers would probably be intimidated by him, probably bow to him. I think a lot of managers are heavily influenced by him, of course. “I think (Everton boss Roberto) Martinez reckons he was misquoted a few years ago (saying) that Ferguson had his disciples. He obviously does. “When a manager takes players away from being on loan – I think it was Preston when Ferguson was manager – when his son (Darren) got the sack, and, all of a sudden, the players are coming away on loan.” Ferguson used his own autobiography, published last year, to settle his own scores with Keane and Beckham among those to come in for criticism, a move described as “ridiculous” by the Irishman. Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert refused to take Portuguese’s hand as he prepared to head down the tunnel before the end of his side’s 3-0 defeat by the Blues at Stamford Bridge on September 27, and his assistant Keane’s reaction was even more withering. Asked about the incident as he launched his new autobiography, The Second Half, in Dublin on Thursday afternoon, Keane said: “It’s disgraceful.