Module 1 – Documentation
Chapter 1: Tools Required for Documentation
This course will cover the services that are required on a recurring or season basis in order to preserve a property through the prevention of damage and potential code violations. Recurring services are required for both Pre-Sale and Post-Sale Property Preservation and include:
● Documentation & Condition Reporting
● Yard Care
● Pool & Spa Maintenance
● Sales Cleaning
One of the biggest keys to providing successful recurring services lies in the scheduling abilities of a property preservation company. The seasonal nature of these services can result in periodic spikes in work volume which can pose a challenge to even the most seasoned professionals. Property preservation companies can prepare for these fluctuations through:
● Regular review of the properties for which have been serviced during the past year
● Estimation of the number of properties that may require service and time required to complete each service
● Determination if existing crews and office staff will be able to handle the load
Whenever possible, property preservation professionals should make preparations through the hiring of seasonal staff or utilization of temporary staffing agencies to ensure work can be completed and processed in a timely manner. If delays are expected or encountered they should be clearly communicated with clients in an effort to avoid preventable damage and/or violation issues.
Weather conditions will also play a large role in the completion of many of these services. Outdoor services such as yard and pool maintenance can be adversely impacted by rain and or snow storms. In addition, indoor services such as winterizations and sales cleans can be made more difficult by cold conditions which may cause freeze damage or difficulty cleaning without freezing surfaces within the home. Property preservation professionals should track weather conditions within their coverage areas to be prepared for these eventualities and provide proactive communication to clients in cases where changing conditions may result in damages and/or violations.
Effective documentation is one of the key principles to providing quality service. Quality documentation is:
Checklists and standardized reports based upon the most stringent client requirements can aid in successful capture of documentation. As the industry evolves, documentation standards are often affected. It is imperative that field service professionals remain up to date regarding changes to procedures, standards, and client expectations. This information should be disseminated in a variety of ways to ensure that it is read and understood by those completing the service. Suggested methods include:
● Procedural Documentation
● Conference Calls
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
From Mortgagee Letter 2010-18:
Documentation including photographs to support each P &P claimed expense shall be provided to the MCM through the web-based P260 portal, upon submission of the claim for insurance benefits request. The documentation must support the expenditures and provide a verifiable timeline that demonstrates the mortgagee took prudent actions to preserve and protect the property until its conveyance. The MCM will audit all claims filed under HUD Form 27011 parts B-D to evaluate the charges against Exhibit B of this Mortgagee Letter and ensure that the Department was not overcharged. The MCM will evaluate the cost of the preservation and protection work performed using an industry standard cost estimator.
HUD will require the repayment of reimbursements if it determines that:
- ● Amounts paid for reimbursement were unnecessary or excessive; or
- ● Services claimed were not performed or not performed properly
For more information regarding HUD, VA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac requirements, visit the NAMFS Mortgagee Letter & Servicing Guide page at: Servicing Guidelines
Tools Required for Documentation
A good digital camera is a must. Photos provide the best visual documentation and are invaluable in providing the client with a true picture of the property and any issues associated with it. Digital photographs further prove that services were completed correctly and establish a verifiable timeline for service. Should there be any damage to the property; photos give an indication of the extent and location of the damage. Digital cameras should have the ability to date and time stamp as this is required by many Servicers and Investors. Additionally, the picture resolution should be such that the quality will not pixilate when resized.
In addition to providing photographic documentation of work, written or electronic reports are also invaluable to the documentation process. Use of checklists and standardized documentation procedures based on best practices are helpful in ensuring that the correct information is captured regarding the property on every visit. In addition, many field service professionals have opted to begin utilizing tablets or other similar technologies while in the field to minimize double entry and questions caused due to poor penmanship.