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Residential Department: Q&A: Michael L. Zevitz, USFN: November 2014


Q&A: Michael L. Zevitz, USFN

Michael L. Zevitz, president, USFN

The effects of the recession are still keenly felt

Since the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the mortgage industry has been subject to a dizzying array of new rules and regulations. Many of these new regulations intend to verify consumers’ ability to repay their mortgages and ensure that they understand all of the nuances of the loans they’re receiving.

The effects of the recession persist across many of the nation’s housing markets, however. In particular, defaults and foreclosures remain a major aspect of the mortgage arena, although the overall foreclosure picture has markedly improved in the past few years. USFN is a nonprofit organization that provides default services and education to the mortgage-banking industry. We spoke with Michael L. Zevitz, the organization’s president, to learn more about the nonprofit organization as well as legislative trends in the market today.

What are a few of your organization’s overall goals and objectives?

The organization has been in existence for 26 years, and it was founded upon some very strong principles, which we still adhere to. The primary principle is education-based, and that is to disseminate information to the industry and to provide opportunities for individuals. [We focus on] residential mortgage loan defaults and [provide] an opportunity for individuals who are working on defaulted loans to get together at strategically placed locations yearly and exchange information and also provide a voice for those who are dealing with defaulted loans.

What are some of the items on your agenda as USFN’s incoming president?

One thing that I really want to concentrate on is making sure that the USFN has a good working relationship with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As you might expect, the CFPB is taking on a lot of responsibility for regulating and protecting consumers, and the USFN needs to be aligned with and in touch with those decisionmakers at the CFPB. While it’s relatively new to the industry, it’s time for the USFN to make inroads and to establish good working relationships with that bureau.

How has industry communication changed in the past few years and how can mortgage originators most effectively keep up with new regulations and lending laws?

If you look at organizations such as the MBA [Mortgage Bankers Association] or the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, everyone is offering webinars, seminars [and] publications. There’s a tremendous amount of media that puts out information that is extremely helpful. If we look back 10 years [ago], we didn’t have these opportunities for video teleconferencing and for peer-to-peer Web conferences. Those things are what’s driving this industry and making sure that everyone gets information pushed out in a timely [manner].

How would you describe the state of foreclosures in the market today?

The default industry was inundated in 2010 and 2011 with default-mortgage foreclosures. We saw a peak come through of almost 3 million defaults in 2011, which was unprecedented. Not even that many were pushed out in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Luckily, that has leveled off, and we have come back to near-normal levels of the prerecession period, and I believe that the industry itself — by way of policing itself and regulatory direction — has done a much better job in the last three to five years of making sure that the loans that are originated meet certain standards to hopefully reduce future defaults.

Are there any USFN-hosted educational seminars or events coming up in the next few months?

Our annual executive servicer summit takes place every September, and it is geared toward high-level, key decisionmakers at large institutional servicers and mortgage banks. In November, we’re having a member education retreat geared exclusively toward USFN members, and in March and June of every year, the USFN presents its loan management and servicing seminar. That’s open to all midlevel and entry-level decisionmakers at [the previously mentioned] institutions.

Michael L. Zevitz is president of USFN, a national nonprofit association of select attorneys, trustee companies and affiliated companies providing comprehensive default services to the mortgage-banking industry. In addition to his role with USFN, Zevitz serves as managing attorney of South & Associates PC, a law firm focused on the protection of creditors’ rights in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Reach Zevitz at


Raymond Fleischmann was editor of Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition. For questions about this article, call (800) 297-6061 or e-mail

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