The FORCE is made up of hundreds of knowledgeable agents and brokers who worked tirelessly through the years of the financial crisis when bank-owned properties were in abundance. They continue to serve this important niche market today, even though overall volume has declined.

While countless headlines can tell us of market changes from the financial crisis through the recovery, we reached out to one of our members to get an agent’s perspective on how things have changed.

Greg Gillespie, FORCE member and broker/owner of GumTree Realty and Property Management in Tupelo, Mississippi, has worked in real estate for nearly 14 years. He talked with us about the changing expectations of asset managers and the importance of responding immediately when an asset manager reaches out with a potential assignment, as well as the implications of note-holders entering the marketplace.

How long have you worked with distressed assets?

The first short sale I completed was at the start of the market crash in 2006—about 11 years.

Are asset managers’ expectations of agents today different than they were when you first entered the REO field?

We are definitely adapting. We are basically told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And if you don’t do it, there will be 10 other agents ready to do it.

The biggest change recently has been service companies buying up notes and trying to make a commission. That’s really where the bite has come from in the last year and a half. The note holders want a percent referral fee to pass that REO to you, so you’re doing all the same work for a 33 percent pay cut. That’s the biggest change lately.

For working with notes, doing property inspections is a new one. You have to be sitting in front of the house, and it tracks your position with GPS coordinates attached to the photos.

How have you had to adapt to these changes?
iPhones are a must. You’re forced to use one. You must be a mobile office. I’m getting a mobile printer in my vehicle. I had one eight or nine years ago, and then I got away from it. Now I’m going back to it.

We do a lot of driving, especially because we’re in a rural area. We might have one property that’s 50 or 60 miles north in the morning and then another 70 to 80 miles south of us. I put a tank of gas in my car about every other day.

Everything is about being mobile and flexibility.

What else are you doing to keep up with this new mobile demand?

I’m coming to the Five Star Conference, hoping to learn to do things easier, smarter, and faster. I want to know what new tools and technology I can use to do things better.

If you’ve worked with an asset manager but haven’t heard from them in a while, what do you do? Do you reach out to them?

I just shoot off an email, usually around Christmas. Last year, I emailed an asset manager to say Merry Christmas and ask if there was anything I could do for them. I hope I’m still on their list.

We always hear that communication is important in working with asset managers. How quickly do you respond to an asset manager’s email or phone call?

The second I hear it.

I stop what I’m doing to answer or respond. Asset managers have a stack of papers, case after case. They have a few minutes for me, and then they’ll move on to someone else. I drop whatever I’m doing. I’ll walk away from the closing table to answer a call if I need to.

What do you do to make yourself stand out to asset managers?

I don’t sleep much.

I have back-up. I own the company, and I have eight additional agents on staff as well as a full-time unlicensed assistant. I also have an office manager to help fill any gaps and be readily available to asset managers.