Florida

GSF Mortgage Corp. has named Mortgage Loan Originator Ashley Whealton as a new addition to the company’s Jacksonville, Fla. office
GSF Mortgage Corp. has named Mortgage Loan Originator Ashley Whealton as a new addition to the company’s Jacksonville, Fla. office. A native of Louisville, Kentucky and a graduate of Sullivan GSF Mortgage Corp. has named Mortgage Loan Originator Ashley Whealton as a new addition to the company’s Jacksonville, Fla. officeUniversity, Ashley is new to the mortgage business and is looking forward to the challenge of being GSF’s newest Loan Originator. She previously worked as Director of Finance and Administration for a tech company. 
 
“Ashley has been an outstanding addition to our office! The combination of compassion for her customers and attention to detail make Ashley one of the strongest loan officers in the Jacksonville area. The entire office is extremely excited to welcome her aboard,” said GSF Branch Manager Chad Murphy.

 
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.
 
GSF Mortgage Corp. has welcomed Branch Manager Cesar Martinez and Mortgage Loan Originator Lissette Garcia in Naples, Fla.
GSF Mortgage Corp. has welcomed Branch Manager Cesar Martinez and Mortgage Loan Originator Lissette Garcia in Naples, Fla. Martinez and Garcia bring a combined 22 years of industry experience to GSF’s newest branch in Naples.
 
“I am pleased to welcome Cesar and Lissette in Naples,” said GSF Mortgage Regional Manager Ruth Watkins. “Their longevity in the industry will allow them to continue to serve their community and as well as introduce exclusive products from GSF Mortgage.”

 
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.
 
Frederic P. “Freddie” McDowell is a loan originator at Boca Raton, Fla.-based Choice Mortgage Bank, and president of the Palm Beaches Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with this trade association.
 
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 became involved with FAMP to lend support to the only organization that represents mortgage professionals in the state of Florida … brokers and lenders. I became a member in the 1990s, worked on several of the chapter committees; became an instructor for the “FAMP Foundation,” which provided required CE credits to loan originators to renew their license; served on the Palm Beach Chapter Board of Directors; and recently became president of the Palm Beaches Chapter of FAMP.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join an association like FAMP?
I believe members join FAMP to receive quality education, keep current on political affairs, and become part of an organization which holds its members to a high standard of ethics to be able to serve the public in a more professional manner.
 
What role does FAMP 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 organization supports NAMB, which does have more influence on matters of federal legislative and regulatory environments than we do as a state organization. But we as a state organization have managed to communicate with our state legislature and work with the legislators to help provide legislation that not only protects the public, but also creates fair playing fields within our industry.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
Hopefully, I have provided the leadership of the Palm Beaches Chapter to work cooperatively with the state level of the organization to achieve its goals with the membership, and have brought forth a supportive effort with our fellow chapters to work with them in achieving their local goals. Through my work with our great board of directors, we have doubled our membership and are in the process of providing increased rapport with our surrounding professional organizations involved with serving the consumer in the purchasing and financing of properties.
 
We are also developing local non-CE programs to provide practical training and education for our membership and related professional organizations involved serving consumers in the purchase and financing of properties.
 
What is the synergy between FAMP and NAMB?
We highly support NAMB through our organization, both through membership and corporation whenever possible. Several of our FAMP state association officers, and past presidents are also officers within NAMB who are working to achieve the goals of both organizations.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into careers in the mortgage profession?
We can provide practical training programs for specific areas of the profession, such as processor, loan originator either sponsored by our organization or made available through the college system, or private schools that are accredited and monitored by the state legislature.
 
How would you define the state of the Florida housing market?
Our state’s housing market is inflating at what I consider an alarming rate, causing a dwindling of affordable homes for middle- and lower-income families. Florida is not, in my opinion an “industry-based state.” Thus, wages do not increase with inflated home costs. Once homes break the affordable threshold for fixed-income individuals, and the two-person middle-class working family’s income, their ability to make mortgage payments are exceeded. It is rapidly getting very hard to find homes for $200,000 to $300,000 in the metropolitan areas—especially in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

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

 
Two real estate broker trade associations in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties have announced a plan to merge.
 
The proposed union of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors will create an entity that has 25,000 members, making it the third-largest regional real estate trade association in the country behind the organizations in Miami and Houston. The members of both groups will need to approve the merger before it can be made final.
 
“Our reimagined association will bring localized service to our members while harnessing our strength and size to provide cutting edge technology and influential advocacy,” said Dionna Hall, chief executive of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. “The organization will place even more emphasis on integrating key technologies.”
 
Hall will become CEO of the new Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale. Ron Lennen, president of the Fort Lauderdale association, will become president elect of the new association. The merged association's multiple listing services is expected to carry more than 40,000 on-market listings, totaling over $21 billion in inventory.  

 
Embrace Home Loans has announced the opening of its ninth branch in the state of Florida
Embrace Home Loans has announced the opening of its ninth branch in the state of Florida. The new Viera, Fla. branch will serve all of Brevard County and be led by Greg Peele, with industry veterans Stephen Thaggard as sales manager, Karen Thaggard as senior loan officer and Lizann Livingston as senior loan officer.
 
“Previously, Karen and I were working from our home office, and while we did exceptionally well, it was time we had a greater presence within the community,” said Stephen Thaggard. “By opening an office in Viera, we’re able to further grow the company and build on our existing relationships to support the needs of those in Brevard County. My time at Embrace has been extremely humbling. We share the same values, and they are truly an outstanding organization that continuously gives back to the communities they serve. It’s a great team and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
 
Stephen Thaggard and his wife, Karen Thaggard, draw on 21 years of industry experience. The pair has been serving Brevard County with Embrace for seven years, from inside their home office. The continued growth of the market, as well as their success, coupled with Stephen Thaggard’s recognition as a part of the President’s Club for three consecutive years prompted the opening of Viera’s own office. The Thaggards have created a strong network of influence within the area, utilizing large amounts of repeat clients and referrals to grow their business.
 
“As Karen and Stephen have widened their reach in the Viera market, there is now a need for more Embrace loan officers in Brevard County,” said Jeff McGuinness, chief sales officer at Embrace Home Loans. “With the growth of closed sales and median sale prices in Florida as well as the leadership of Stephen Thaggard and Greg Peele, I have no doubt that our Viera branch will be extremely successful.”

 
Eddie Hilliard is executive vice president of business development at Ponte Verda Beach, Fla.-based Mainsail Mortgage and president of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP)
Eddie Hilliard is executive vice president of business development at Ponte Verda Beach, Fla.-based Mainsail Mortgage and president of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Hilliard regarding his involvement with his state’s trade group.
 
When did you first get involved with Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals, and what was the path that led you to a leadership role within the association?
I’ve been in the mortgage industry for 24 years, but I did not have my broker’s license until 2010. Jody Barry, who was past president of FAMP, wanted me to become more involved, and I wanted to give back to a group that gave me so much over the years. I started showing up at meetings, and I later became chairman of the Membership Committee. From there, I moved up the ranks. My current position started in August 2016 and will expire at the end of July.
 
Why should members of your state’s mortgage profession join FAMP?
It is important to be part of a group that is trying to move our profession forward. We’re very serious about making sure that our members know what is going on education-wise and compliance-wise, as well as bringing in new lenders to talk about their programs.
 
How is FAMP involved in shaping legislative issues?
We like to bubble up our information for Tallahassee to Valerie Saunders, our state chairwoman. We are also involved in raising money for the FAMP PAC, and we participate in the Legislative Day activities in April, when we connect with legislators so they can know who are and how they affect our industry. On a federal level, we hand that off to Valerie Saunders and NAMB.
 
What has been your most significant accomplishment within the association?
Making sure that our monthly meetings have content for our members, so when they leave they can say that they’ve gotten something out of it. Also, ensuring that we bring relevant education to the table.
 
What is the synergy between FAMP and NAMB?
Our relationship is not the way it was in years past, when there was automatic joint membership. But we still get a lot of information from NAMB and we are appreciative of what they are doing for the industry.
 
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
The FAMP Education Foundation has “boot camps” that bring in people right out of college and introduces them to the basics of what our industry is doing, while showing them what they need to know about what it takes to be successful in our business. We have some great schools here, but I don’t think we’ve done a good job in marketing to them. There are so many people who are scared of the real estate industry because of what happened from 2007 to 2009, so being part of this industry is not high on their list.
 
What is the housing market like in your state?
It is taking off. We are seeing huge growth in all areas. Builders are buying up lots and putting infrastructure in place. The market is busy as we saw great growth in the third and fourth quarters of last year.
 
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
An influx of new residents into the South Florida market is being balanced with an exodus of longtime residents who can no longer afford to live in this area
An influx of new residents into the South Florida market is being balanced with an exodus of longtime residents who can no longer afford to live in this area, according to a Florida International University (FIU) study of recent U.S. Census Bureau data.
 
The Miami Herald is reporting that although the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach market is one of the 10 fastest-growing metro areas in the country, is growth is being fueled by people moving from other countries, particularly Latin America. Indeed, FIU estimated that the net international migration to the region has increased 397 percent since 2010.
 
But while this occurred, the market has witnessed a net outflow of 106,591 residents to other parts of the country. In the Miami-Dade and Broward metro areas, the residential shift has created something of a white flight, with the White non-Hispanic population plummeting by 16.6 percent and 22.3 percent between 2000 and 2015, respectively.
 
Maria Ilcheva, senior researcher at FIU’s Metropolitan Center, noted that a mix of economic reasons can be cited as the source of this shift.
 
“We have people coming here from other countries to invest and to migrate for other reasons,” she said. “On the other hand, the locals are looking for exit strategies … There are two obvious reasons in our county: wages are lower than in the rest of the country, and the unaffordability of housing and the cost of living. You can’t completely divorce these two factors.”
 
Condo market analyst Peter Zalewski agreed with the FIU findings. “I don’t think there’s any question this all has to do with housing,” he said. “The cost of housing in Miami has become unbearable [for many locals].”
On Wednesday, June 7, the FAMP Suncoast Chapter Meeting With Motivational Speaker David Clapp will be held at Der Dutchman Restaurant, 3713 Bahia Vista Street in Sarasota, Fla.
 
For more information, contact ​Sherry Bitner by phone at ​(941) 504-1445 or e-mail ​SherryB@verizon.net.