NMP's Mortgage Professional of the Month

Susie Stringer is a Senior Loan Officer at SecurityNational Mortgage Inc. in Round Rock, Texas, and President of the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals (CTAMP)
Susie Stringer is a Senior Loan Officer at SecurityNational Mortgage Inc. in Round Rock, Texas, and President of the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals Susie Stringer is a Senior Loan Officer at SecurityNational Mortgage Inc. in Round Rock, Texas, and President of the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals (CTAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently had the chance to chat with Susie regarding her involvement with CTAMP and the state of the housing market in the Lone Star State.
 
How and why did you get involved with the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals? Can you share the track within the association that led to your current leadership role?
Having been in the mortgage industry for more than 20 years, I was introduced to the CTAMP Board of Directors through an associate. Once I met this group, I realized what their goals were and what an amazing group of people they are, donating their time and energy for our association. It was an effortless transition to get involved and to share what I could of myself.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join CTAMP?
Knowledge is power. We are a local chapter of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals, and they support and provide information and representation to the industry. We focus on teaching, while working to keep individuals informed on changes in the industry.
 
What role does CTAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments?
As a trade organization, we are involved in both state and federal legislative issues, and we send our representatives to lobby each year. It is a very exciting time to be in this industry.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
While expanding our membership, we have been able to provide an extremely robust education program that addresses the day-to-day concerns of mortgage professionals. Our motto is: “Don't Wait, Educate!”
 
What is the synergy between CTAMP and NAMB?
We are a local chapter in the state of Texas, working with NAMB, and we have a fluid connection with them.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is still a tricky one, but I do believe it is an important subject. Young people need to have a way of integrating themselves into the mortgage field. Because the industry stepped away from paid mentoring programs as a result of heavy regulations, this may be a good time to revisit and revise that idea in order to attract a new wave of young mortgage professionals.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Very strong, steady and robust. 
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.
Susie Stringer is a Senior Loan Officer at SecurityNational Mortgage Inc. in Round Rock, Texas, and President of the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals
Sherry Bitner is Branch Manager and Mortgage Loan Originator at Oakland Park, Fla.-based RE Financial Services Inc. and president of the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals
Sherry Bitner is Branch Manager and Mortgage Loan Originator at Oakland Park, Fla.-based RE Financial Services Inc. and president of the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals Sherry Bitner is Branch Manager and Mortgage Loan Originator at Oakland Park, Fla.-based RE Financial Services Inc. and president of the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Sherry regarding her trade association leadership.
 
How and why did you get involved with the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals? Can you share the track within FAMP that led to the leadership role in your chapter?
I was introduced, and joined, the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers, as it was called at the time, in 1988 by the broker I worked with at the time. He encouraged me to go to meetings so I could learn more about the mortgage business. At that time, there were very few resources for education, and I found FAMB to be very beneficial to fill that void.
 
I was able to develop professional relationships with others in the business and share experiences of failures and successes to help grow my business through my association involvement. The relationships with the lenders and vendors also built my network, so I could reach out to them for services and additional knowledge. I also spent 10 years as a Wholesale Account Executive and was encouraged by the companies to attend the local FAMB meetings to promote and grow my accounts. 
 
In 2004, I opened my own brokerage company and became involved as an Executive Officer in the Suncoast Chapter of FAMB in 2005, when I also became involved in attending state meetings. I was learning more about business management, commitments, managing my time more effectively, and it also improved my ability to work together collectively as a team. I was taking myself to an entirely new professional level.
 
Today, my passion is strong in supporting FAMP as President of the Suncoast Chapter. It takes a village to run a chapter, and with all of our dedicated Directors, we are able to grow our chapter. On the state level, I serve as a Statewide Director, and I am involved in both the Membership Committee and the PAC Committee.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join FAMP?
The majority of long-term members feel it is important to support their professional organization because of what FAMP does. They know they are supporting those on the chapter and state level who are working hard to represent them. They always attend continuing education classes and tell me it is always better in person because of the discussions that take place in a live classroom setting, and they know they are supporting FAMP. 
 
The state and local trade shows bring in lenders and vendors from across the state and country. The FAMP state convention provides outstanding educational speakers on the most informative educational breakout sessions available anywhere. Newly licensed individuals and new processors are eager to learn as much as possible. By attending FAMP’s various meetings and events, they have a variety of resources at their fingertips. 
 
Sherry Bitner is Branch Manager and Mortgage Loan Originator at Oakland Park, Fla.-based RE Financial Services Inc. and president of the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals What role does FAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
On the local level, we invite all of the legislators in our area to meetings each year to socialize with members and speak with everyone. This builds a professional connection and recognition of who we are with those local legislators, and it also helps support our state efforts. Each year, all of the chapters meet in Tallahassee for our legislative visitation day.
 
On the federal level, our state organization sends participants to NAMB’s Legislative & Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C. NAMB does an excellent job on updating us as to the federal level agendas and FAMP does an excellent job on keeping us abreast of the local agenda. On the chapter level, our agenda is to reach out to get to know our local legislators as much as possible. When we need to reach out to them, they know who we are and we are able to share our specific points of view on specific legislation with them.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments within the association?
We have managed to increase the Suncoast Chapter’s membership consistently over the past three years. We hold monthly meetings and ask for surveys at our meetings from the attendees as to the type of events they want, and the majority of them are all educational-based. We also do several network appreciation gatherings a year as well.
 
Our biggest accomplishment is our local trade show each year. This year, the Suncoast Chapter Trade Show doubled the attendance from the prior year. We have increased the number of Suncoast Chapter Directors each year, as well.
Our main objective is to keep growing the chapter and offering our members the tools to succeed in their busy professional lives.
 
What is synergy between FAMP and NAMB?
NAMB sends out all types of valuable information covering government affairs, education, trade shows, and updated news articles on current events to everyone. We have Valerie Saunders, who is Vice President of NAMB, and Kimber White, who is a Director for NAMB, both from FAMP. We have excellent representation and resources because of their participation. 
 
Over the years as a member of NAMB, one of the best benefits I have found is when I have a client who is purchasing a property in another state and needs a mortgage. I will search the NAMB membership and find a member in the city the buyer will be purchasing and contact the NAMB member and then refer my client to that member. I have also experience the referral coming to me as well. Our membership brings professional recognition and collaboration which clients respect.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Perhaps a good start to bring more young people into our career would be contacting the local college and university level to introduce students to the career opportunity. Another idea is to participate in job fairs on the local level. Many new people entering as Loan Originators and Processors are requesting training to make their work environment more streamlined and productive. 
 
Our FAMP Foundation has compiled a Bootcamp for new Loan Originators and Processors, and has brought this to the local Chapter areas. It has been extremely successful this year. It all comes back to education, where FAMB brought me education value 29 years ago, and today, it is still bringing that same value to new members. 
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Overall, the housing market in our FAMP Suncoast Chapter area has not reached the highest values that existed prior to the recession in many places, but it is getting close. Inventory is low, builders are building, sellers are looking for the highest purchase price possible, buyers want a good deal on the original asking price, and bidding wars occur on properties priced right in the marketplace. Thus, there are still appraisals coming in below the purchase price, which is not at all a bad thing as it controls the steady growth. Overall, the market is in healthy shape at this time and continues to grow.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Jayne Bail is a mortgage loan originator at Denver-headquartered Platte River Mortgage & Investments Inc. and president of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Professionals (CoAMP)
Jayne Bail is a mortgage loan originator at Denver-headquartered Platte River Mortgage & Investments Inc. and president of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Professionals (CoAMP)Jayne Bail is a mortgage loan originator at Denver-headquartered Platte River Mortgage & Investments Inc. and president of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Professionals (CoAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Jayne regarding her work with this trade group.
 
How and why did you get involved in the Colorado Association of Mortgage Professionals (CoAMP)? Can you share the track within the association that led to the leadership role?
I’ve been a member of the Colorado state association since 1998. In 2008-2009, I was inspired by the leadership at that time, Douglas Braden and Kay Cleland, and signed up for the Education Committee. After a year on the Education Committee, I was nominated and accepted a position on the Board of Directors in 2010. I’ve been on the Board ever since, except for a brief absence during my mother’s declining health. I’ve been serving next to Douglas Braden, CoAMP Past President, on the Government Affairs Committee for the past five years as well.
 
Here is why. In 2006-2007, I started to get very frustrated with the business. The rules were changing and I felt out of touch. I found CoAMP to be a foundation of information. It became my portal, so to speak, to learn from other industry partners, peers and community. My participation with CoAMP geared me up for what was to come and how to handle the obstacles of the new administration and rulemaking.
 
My participation with CoAMP has helped me to grow and learn what leadership is about, what teamwork is and that being a part of the group that makes the difference for others in our community is inspirational. I get up every morning with the intention of making a difference with everyone I have the privilege to engage. And I don’t mean just with CoAMP—this has allowed me to be a better Loan Officer to my clients. I care more, even more than before. There is a bigger picture now.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join CoAMP?
I believe other members are here to learn, network and to be advocated for on the legislative front.
 
What role does CoAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Our GA Committee Co-Chairs are Douglas Braden and myself. I focus mostly on the state issues, while Doug focuses on the federal level. We have a committee of five members. On the state side, we are very involved and well-known with our state regulators. We are at each Board of Mortgage Loan Originator meeting, every other third Wednesday of the month. We monitor legislation and weigh in with the committees and members as issues arise. We sit on the Inter-Professional Committee and Colorado Housing Council. The Inter-Professional Committee consists of trade associations in the housing industry, such as CAR, LTAC, Appraiser Association, State Departments of Real Estate, of Insurance and Real Estate Attorneys. We meet monthly to discuss what’s happening in each association, any issues, rules or laws that might be coming up. The Colorado Housing Council meets once a month, and we usually have a speaker that addresses housing issues in our state.
 
Our state is currently going through our sunset review. We have met with the office that is conducting the review and have made some recommendations for changes and improvements to our current state law.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
Most significant is our presence and contribution at the table of the state legislators, regulators and trade association interaction/collaboration. We’ve also partnered with Mortgage Educators and Compliance (MEC) to provide all continuing education to our members. MEC’s involvement in our association has increased the awareness of our association in our state community and has had a direct connection to our increased membership. 
 
What is the synergy between CoAMP and NAMB?
Our connection with NAMB is most effective with the federal level of our government affairs efforts. Doug works closely with NAMB’s GA Committee to communicate with our representatives on Capitol Hill.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is a tough question. I started in the industry straight out of college and worked in secondary marketing, post-closing auditing/underwriting and processing before I even thought about originating. This was a great path of entering the industry. I just don’t think the current generation sees this as the great amazing profitable industry that it actually is.
 
How would you define the state of Colorado’s housing market?
Our housing market is crazy … not enough inventory and not enough entry-level/affordable housing to take care of the demand. This is driving up values at a high rate of appreciation and making it difficult for the first-time homebuyer to afford a home. 
Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Trish Sublette is a Loan Originator with Security National Mortgage Company in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and President of the Space Coast Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with her about her involvement with FAMP and the Space Coast Chapter.
 

How and why did you get involved with FAMP? Can you share the track within FAMP that led to the leadership role in your chapter?
I initially joined the Space Coast Chapter of FAMP in the late 1990s when I first became a broker. Back then, I joined to gain education from the speakers at the monthly meetings, and for the camaraderie of my peers. Around 2006 or 2007, the current President of our chapter asked me to sit on the Space Coast board as the Community Outreach Chair. I accepted, and from attending the board meetings, I learned more about the FAMP organization. When our Awards Chair could not attend a State Board Meeting, the President asked me to represent our chapter at the meeting for the Awards Committee. I did, but what I did not know was that the Awards Committee is a closed committee which means no one can be a substitute for another member. As a result, I became the Space Coast Chapter member on the State Awards Committee. 
 
Later, I was asked to be a Director on the State Board and no longer continued with my membership for what I could gain from the organization, but for what I could contribute to the organization. In 2010, I was elected President of the Space Coast Chapter and have been President ever since. I also served as State Awards Chair for three consecutive years, and currently am Vice President of the Foundation, and President of the Foundation Advisory Committee.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession join FAMP?
In my opinion, there are two types of members of all associations, and FAMP is no different. Some join for discounted required education and any other benefits they can gain. Others join FAMP because they take pride in being a member of their industry and work towards the betterment of that industry. In my case, I joined for my benefit, but remain a participating member because I believe in what FAMP does for our industry and our community and want to be a part of its success. If only more members got involved, they would see what a great association FAMP is.
 
What role does FAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
FAMP plays a major role in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments. Our members attend Lobby Day in Tallahassee, speaking with our state legislators about the concerns of the mortgage industry.
 
On the federal level, our Executive Committee goes to Washington, D.C., to speak with federal regulators and legislatures. We are always watching proposed bills that would affect our members or the mortgage industry in general while still in committee to determine if the bill would be helpful or harmful to us. We then send out a Call to Action to our members to contact their Congressman. Currently, the congressional agenda does not contain anything that will affect us.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
This is a tough question because whatever is accomplished is done with teamwork. I could say I held the Space Coast Chapter together for the past six years, but I could not have done it without our Board members. On the state level, I have had a voice, which is only meaningful if others listen. Fortunately, the members of FAMP and the Foundation do listen. 
With the Awards Committee, we increased the number of awards given to our members to say thank you for their contributions, and we also had more chapters participating in the awards than had been in the past. But, again, it wasn’t just me, it was the entire committee.
 
What is synergy between FAMP and NAMB?
I have concentrated primarily on FAMP; however, I do know that ideas have been passed back and forth between the two organizations. However, what may work for a national association does not always work locally for a state organization. 
 
As for involvement in the federal legislative process, NAMB is the leader, and makes FAMP stronger through its involvement.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Success in this industry depends on knowledge and good work ethics. In my opinion, internships on the high school and college levels within mortgage companies would afford young people the opportunity to learn from the bottom up on just how the industry works.
 
Too many loan officers start out as just loan officers, and although they have completed all of their education requirements, they do not know the everyday responsibilities of the loan officer. Once they learn it is not a nine to five job, and that they must interact with all parties to the transaction, and sometimes without compensation, they leave the industry. Without knowing the internal workings, they will spin their wheels, and not have the confidence to succeed. FAMP now offers a boot camp for that reason.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Right now, Florida’s housing market is good. It is a seller’s market, so the buyers tell me. It appears once they decide to put a bid on a house, there has already been another bid accepted. What used to be an average priced home of $80,000 is now $150,000 and upward. 

Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.
 
John Repasky is founder and president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Counsel Mortgage Group LLC and president of the Central Chapter of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals (AzAMP)
John Repasky is founder and president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Counsel Mortgage Group LLC and president of the Central Chapter of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals (AzAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with this Chapter of his state’s trade association.
 
How and why did you first get involved in AzAMP? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role in your chapter?
I have been in the mortgage business for approximately 15 years. I thought it would be good to give back to my profession, as it has been good to me. I was elected as president-elect of the Central Chapter of the AzAMP and now serve as the president of the Central Chapter.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join AzAMP?
To stay informed as to what is happening in the industry. We have monthly meetings where we discuss the topics of the day affecting our businesses, government affairs updates, and have a guest speaker give topical information. For example, we have had credit companies, financial analysts, state regulators and a congressman speak to our group.
 
What role does your association play in the legislative and regulatory environments? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We are a member of NAMB and participate annually in the NAMB Legislative & Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C. We share the same issues NAMB proposed at the Legislative Conference regarding loan originator education and removing payments to brokers in the three percent points and fees cap. We are interested in what will happen to Dodd-Frank in the new Trump Administration and how it will affect our businesses.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with AzAMP?
I am proud to be a part of an energetic team that makes up our Board. It is the work of the entire Board which advances our association. We’ve had membership drives, increased use of our Web site and social media, discussions regarding continuing education opportunities, and open meetings regarding the issues of the day.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Education that our profession is one area where you can help people and make a good living. Many students come out of school wanting to help people. Our profession is one where you can directly help someone with, most likely, the most important financial decision of their lives. It is a rewarding profession where you know you helped someone achieve homeownership.
 
How would you define the state of the Arizona housing market?
The Arizona market is currently stable. We survived the housing crisis, and now see Boomerang Buyers re-entering the market, i.e. those who had unfortunate financial events years ago and now can qualify as their mandatory waiting periods are coming to an end. 
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Moneyhouse is a family-owned company that traces its roots to a single mortgage bank founded in 1997 in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Today, it is Puerto Rico’s most prominent mortgage banking entity, and it is seeking to expand its operations across the mainland U.S.
National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Ralph Rosynek, senior vice president of the company’s U.S. division and chief information officer, about this company’s role in the reverse mortgage market.
 
What makes your company different from its competitors?
The background of Moneyhouse. The company is based in Puerto Rico, and that cultural background has migrated to the U.S. The company is a well-established, 20-year-old, privately-owned mortgage banking business that is in the forward and reverse mortgage business and operates as a direct lender in addition to being a Ginnie Mae issuer for both loan product types. It also offers retail, wholesale and correspondent opportunities for consumers and business partners.
 
Unique to Puerto Rico is the fact that all transactions are done in Spanish. Many aspects of the Puerto Rican business side have been able to assist our U.S. expansion and create an important niche for us—we have a fully bilingual staff with Spanish documentation options and support. There is a large percentage of Hispanic potential borrowers and homeowners in the U.S. that are underserved, largely because of language. We can work with Hispanic borrowers and help make mortgage transactions much more comfortable for them in addressing their needs.
 
How many people work with Moneyhouse U.S. and what does the company look for in potential employees?
We have approximately 12 people working at Moneyhouse U.S., and it is a growing staff—we are looking to expand immediately, especially in our Orlando office. We have a great interest in individuals with reverse mortgage experience and because of our forward and reverse capabilities are also looking for MLO’s who would like to be able to originate both products. Being bilingual is something that is very attractive to us but not a requirement due to the other markets we serve.
 
What impact will the rise in interest rates have on the reverse mortgage industry?
On the reverse mortgage product, it will largely have no impact. The real impact that is more important will be the shift from the number of potential loan officers who become interested in the product to support their business and volume replacement as refinance volumes decline. The overall benefit to the consumer is a widening of the talent pool to help educate seniors about the product and provide access.
 
What do you see as the near-term state of the reverse mortgage market?
In today’s market, the reverse mortgage ultimately benefits neighborhoods and the overall housing market by allowing for borrowers to remain in their homes, allowing for the purchase of a new home and many times not requiring them to access other taxpayer funded programs for housing assistance. For today’s Baby Boomers, there is also an opportunity to add value to their retirement strategy by utilizing a reverse mortgage as a component of financial planning.
 
We are looking at approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people becoming eligible for reverse mortgages every day. We recently celebrated the one millionth reverse mortgage originated in the U.S. since the program’s inception. However, the market share for this product is maybe two percent to three percent of eligible senior’s at best.
 
What can be done to grow the market share for reverse mortgages?
Our company and other industry participants are out there continuing to educate older homeowners on the misconceptions surrounding the product and show how it really works as a benefit to a number of senior needs. A lot of lingering fears have been instilled by incorrect reporting and distorted facts over the life of the product to date.
 
As lenders, we are constantly working to reinforce positive values. Yes, this is not a program designed for every senior, but for many it should be seriously looked at as a component of an overall financial strategy for seniors.
 
What is your company's current marketing strategies?
On the U.S. side, our Orlando, Fla., group works with central Florida homeowners offering forward and reverse mortgage products seniors on a retail basis. Nationally, our marketing strategy as we expand is on a wholesale and correspondent business-to-business basis. In Puerto Rico, our staff of 100-plus includes 40-plus loan officers working on a face-to-face retail basis with borrowers across the island in addition to a wholesale and correspondent business-to-business team assisting other lenders on the island.
 
Some reverse mortgage companies in the U.S. have television advertising featuring well-known celebrities. Are you planning to follow that approach?
Probably not in the U.S. In Puerto Rico, we have a well-known celebrity associated with the company who is recognized throughout the island: Gilberto Santa Rosa, affectionately known as the “Salsa King,” who has represented Moneyhouse for many years.
 
Well, that sounds a lot more interesting than Tom Selleck, no?
(Laughing) I think he is more interesting than Tom Selleck, but I am not certain if he would play as well as Tom in Des Moines!
 
How does your company approach social media?
We just started looking at that on the U.S. side, as a means of prospecting for new consumer and business clients. It used to be that companies heavily relied on lead generation, but we’re not sure that methodology works today as a long-term solution and continue to explore alternatives to reaching borrowers.
 
Also, social media is being used more and more by the younger tier of reverse mortgage borrowers. I am not certain that anyone is tapping into social media to its fullest advantage in the reverse mortgage market.
 
What is your company’s growth strategy for the next 12 months?
I think that we will have a year of growth ahead of us in the reverse product. The financial planning community and the real estate community recognized the results of marketing education for consumers. These groups are asking a lot more questions about the reverse product.
 
Also, we are now facing another set of challenges, greater efficiencies and access to product. Today’s digital age movement requires us to be much more resourceful in how we market and make products available. The greatest future impact could be the paperless environment combined with new product and methodology innovation. For some companies, this will be their greatest hurdle. I would not be surprised if we see an increase in the workforce needed to make a digital product successful as the reach across geographical markets also requires a greater talent pool to provide an exceptional level of customer experience.
 
If your company could be described in a single word, what would that word be?
“Innovative.” We celebrate our 20th year in business this year, and our goal is to look at things differently and provide a different perspective with more options and choices to our potential customer market. That will keep us fresh for the next 20 years.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. 
Michael O’Connor is a mortgage specialist at Thousand Oaks Mortgage and Lending and president of the Greater Ventura Chapter of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with his local CAMP chapter.
 
How and why did you get involved with CAMP? Can you share the track within CAMP that led to your leadership role in the Greater Ventura Chapter?
I have been involved in CAMP since around 1992 when the Chapter was formed in our area. Why? I thought that being involved in an organization like CAMP that was trying to improve the professionalism and lobby for better mortgage guidelines were good goals and I wanted to help achieve those goals.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join CAMP?
First, not too many members of the mortgage profession join the association. Why? First, they are too busy just making money. Second, they are not aware of the goals of CAMP. Third, it costs money and takes some time to be an involved member.
 
What role does CAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We play a big role in federal and state regulatory process. For the last four years, I have traveled to Washington, D.C., with our Government Affairs Representative representing the Greater Ventura Chapter of CAMP to lobby for better guidelines for the average mortgage borrower. This last year, there were approximately 128 attendees at the NAMB event—28 were from California and a large contingent was from Texas. We spent a long day learning about issues and economic conditions, then we tackled the talking points.
 
Let me give you an example of one talking point regarding the three-percent rule. For a borrower to buy a home valued at $200,000 or less, that person will pay more of an interest rate because the amount of money at three-percent for a $200,000 home does not cover the closing costs. So, the borrower has to borrow at a higher interest rate and get a rebate to cover the costs. We have been trying to change this technical flaw in the Dodd-Frank Act, for the last three years. Rep. Brad Sherman, a centrist Democrat, addressed our group on the Tuesday morning before we hit Capitol Hill and told us the Dodd-Frank Act is sacred scripture to Democrats and the three-percent rule will not be changed.
 
We also travel locally to Sacramento each year to lobby for issues involving borrowers in California.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with CAMP?
I see two major accomplishments. First, the fundraising that we do on a local level. Second, the lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. and in Sacramento.
 
As a Chapter, we just did a Lender Fair on May 18. We had 23 lenders and approximately 135 LOs visiting the sponsor exhibits. As far as my most significant accomplishment, I serve as the president of the Chapter and feel an obligation to provide the leadership.
 
One other thing I would like to mention that has been a major point of satisfaction in my career has been the fact that I have been on the board of Many Mansions since 1999. For those individuals who can afford to buy homes, I help them finance them. This goes for low-income, very-low-income, disabled, veterans and homeless. I feel if I can help people who can afford to buy home, then I should spend my charitable time helping those less fortunate.
 
What is synergy between CAMP and NAMB?

There is not a lot of synergy at the Chapter level, but a very good amount at the state level. Currently, a Californian, Fred Kreger, leads NAMB, and California has provided the leadership for many tenures.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Exposure. We need to show them the satisfaction you get when you put a young couple in a new home. Plus, it is a financially rewarding career.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
We are not building new homes at a rate to keep up with the demand. It is very expensive to build a single-family residence in California, so builders are now doing apartment construction. 
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Marc Reneau is first vice president and mortgage operations manager at First State Bank in Clinton Township, Mich., and immediate past president of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association (MMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with him regarding his work with his state’s trade association.
 
How did you get involved with the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association and what was the path that led to your leadership role?
Of all things, I wanted to change where the organization held its Annual Golf Outing. I despised the course where they had it. So, I got involved with the committee responsible which lead to me working with the group. At the time, one of my employees was involved with MMLA, Allison Johnston, and she was in a leadership role. There was a rule that said not more than one person in a company could be involved in leadership. I later left that company for a job offer that I couldn’t refuse. As soon as I left, she contacted me to say that I was “nominated” to be part of a leadership committee and the rest is history.
 
Why would a mortgage professional in your state want to join MMLA?

There are a number of things. We’ve been around since 1929, so we have a long legacy of dealing with Michigan. On the education front, we keep everyone well informed on what’s going on. We also keep each other update on available opportunities. If you haven’t figured out that this is a relationship-based business, you’re in the wrong business!
 
We also have a monthly risk management call, which is a very valuable tool. Even though we are all competitors, we feel comfortable enough to share ideas, concerns and simply bounce ideas off each other.
 
How is MMLA involved in the state legislative process?
We keep Murray Brown of Karoub Associates on retainer, who keeps his finger on the pulse on what goes on in the state legislature. We tell him what we need to do as an industry, and gives us advice on who to approach if the MMLA needs to meet with the state regulators or someone serving in a legislative capacity.
 
We sometimes sponsor legislation. With the advent of TRID, we were very active with the state legislature to standardize recording fees in Michigan. Every city and county had a different way of doing their recording. Now, all but one county uses the same flat fee system and we’re working diligently on converting the last one.
 
What do you see as your most satisfying accomplishment within the MMLA?
I would cite something that started last year. As I said, we began in 1929, and as with most organizations, things tend to stagnate. We looked at the organization as a whole and realized that it needed to be updated. The by-laws were antiquated, our mission statement did not reflect what we were doing. So, we hired a strategic planning consultant and brought in both members and non-members to look at how we could fix things. We are in the process of executing a three-year plan where we are rewriting what and how we do things. This includes updating our Web site so it is mobile-friendly. We have also hired a communications director to help get our message out consistently.
 
What is the level of synergy between MMLA and other trade groups?
Typically, our Executive Director Joanne Misuraca, whom we lean on quite heavily, attends various industry conferences. We ensure she partakes in no less than two visits a year, at both state and national levels, to make sure people see how we are dealing with things and to keep in sync with the rest of the country.
 
How would you define Michigan’s housing market?
Incredible! Bidding is at its highest in 10 years. Sellers get three to five offers within a day of a home listing in most markets. I have a friend whose house sold in six hours, then bought a new house two hours later. But we have very little inventory—there are not nearly enough home here for sale.

Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Linda Knowlton is vice president and manager at Fort Myers, Fla.-based Mortgage Group Services LLC and president of the Southwest Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP). She serves as Membership Committee chairperson for FAMP State and as director of the FAMP Foundation Education Board. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with her about her work with this chapter.
 
How did you get involved with the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals Southwest Chapter and what was the path that led you to the leadership role?
I became involved about five to six years ago. I was attending a continuing education course on a local level and the then-current president, Dave Kane, was at the meeting. He indicated the Chapter needed to step up and get more people involved or we would have to close our Southwest Chapter. I wouldn’t say that the chapter was dormant at the time, but it was pretty close. We lost thousands and thousands of brokers across the state and it impacted the Southwest Chapter.
 
So, we got together with three or four others and started work on rebuilding the chapter. We started with less than 40 members when I took office, and now we are almost to 100.
 
Why should a mortgage professional in your market get involved with FAMP’s Southwest Chapter?
You do not need to be active at a state level, but you need to be active locally and know what goes on. We, as licensed originators, must support and police our own industry. Communication is the key to any success individually and professionally, and FAMP is striving constantly to communicate to our members. FAMP provides information that we need to use on a daily basis. For example, we have the Office of Financial Regulation speak to our Chapter and discuss regulations, license requirements and audits. We also have had a local attorney discuss contract issues. Other speakers and topics include, tax analysis hosted by a FAMP-supported PMI company; compliance; licensing and regulation topics. Our local and state legislators have also spoken at many of our meetings. It is essential that we know who are local and state legislators are. When we lobby in Tallahassee and in D.C.; we get to know who the players are and who we need to be in front of and they get to know who we are as well.
Our chapter has 12 meetings a year, which include two luncheons and a social each quarterly. We also hosted our first golf tournament, to benefit a local non-profit.
 
How is your chapter involved in the state and national legislative discussion?
At a state level, each FAMP Chapter goes to Tallahassee—or, as we say, we “Rally in Tally”—each year. At the national level, we encourage members to go to the NAMB Legislative & Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C. to lobby on Capitol Hill.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishment within the Southwest Chapter?
It would definitely be my involvement in rebuilding the Chapter. We took a chapter that was not active for at least three to five years, and have tripled the membership, but more importantly, we are supporting our industry on a local level with our SW Chapter.
 
What is the level of synergy between your chapter and NAMB?
We have a very good relationship with NAMB. NAMB Past President John Councilman lives here—and he is very active in our chapter. It is nice to have him here. We provide communication from NAMB to our members on a weekly basis.
 
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
We’re trying to obtain new Millennials as members. FAMP’s Chapters are also trying to recruit Millennials from related industries, such as banking and real estate, or right out of college. Do have an answer yet? No. But we are trying to bridge the age gap for the association and the industry.
 
How would you describe your area’s housing market?
It is very active, from a standpoint of sales values. Certain portions in our market are between $175,000-$300,000, and they are pretty active—we are seeing multiple offers. There are also many first-time homebuyers in this market—I am currently working with four of them, which is very encouraging. We also have a lot of seasonal buyers, and that market is pretty strong. There is a challenge with homes in certain price ranges staying on the market longer than they should. Staying connected with the real estate agents and builders help us with our “local” information and we also have them as FAMP members.

Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.
 
Mark Severance is the branch manager at Regency Mortgage in South Burlington, Vt., and past president of the Vermont Mortgage Bankers Association
Mark Severance is the branch manager at Regency Mortgage in South Burlington, Vt., and past president of the Vermont Mortgage Bankers Association. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with the state’s trade group.
 

How and why did you get involved with the Vermont Mortgage Bankers Association? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role with the association?
I got involved in the VMBA right after it was formed. I always recognized the value in having a trade association to represent the needs of the individual businesses and the group. When the first VMBA president decided to leave the industry part way through his first year, I assumed the presidency to complete his term, and then served a term of my own. I have since done two other terms on the board, and served as president for two years from 2014-2016.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join VMBA?
Three reasons: Access to educational opportunities (required for licensing), access to information that affects us all, such as legislative activity, and networking. 
 
What role does VMBA play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We maintain a relationship with a lobbyist in Montpelier to be our “eyes and ears” so that we can be informed on any legislative initiatives that may affect us. We have testified in committee meetings from time to time, and we try to set ourselves up to be resources for our legislators when they need information when considering a bill.
 
Right now, the one thing I can focus on is the State Current Use program. The current laws create a lien on a property when enrolled in Current Use, even when there is no payment or tax triggered. I would like to see that changed so that the lien only comes on to the property when a tax is triggered, which would mirror the policy in other states.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with VMBA?

Building the association, getting involved with the national Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and attending the National Advocacy Conference, providing communication to members about various factors that affect our daily operations, and developing a very positive relationship with our regulators in Montpelier.
 
What is synergy between VMBA and the national MBA and other mortgage/housing trade groups?
VMBA is a member of the national MBA. I sometimes find our influence to be minor, due to being in a state with a small population. I think we can do more in terms of connecting with other trade groups, because there are other groups that have similar interests and focus, such as Realtors, Home Builders and Appraisers.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is a big issue. Many companies are now starting to address the fact that there are very few young people coming into the business. This is primarily the result of licensing issues, and the time delay between starting work and actually earning commissions. Companies are developing training programs and transitional strategies to get new people from ground zero to the time where they can be productive.
 
How would you define Vermont’s housing market?
Strong. Activity this spring has been robust, and properties are selling quickly, and often with multiple offers.

Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.