How did you get involved with HAMP, and what was the path that led you to your leadership position within the association?
I got involved in 2007. As a member, I wanted to give back to the industry. It was a long journey to get to the position I’m at now. I started with the Membership Committee, because that’s how you get to know your members. I moved from there to the Legislative Committee, then the Seminars and Events Committee. I served as Treasurer because I thought it was a great idea to learn what our expenses were. I served as President for 2014, 2017 and 2018, and my current term runs through Dec. 31 of this year.
Why should mortgage professionals in Hawaii become a part of HAMP?
We currently have approximately 120 members and we try to protect the livelihood of mortgage professionals in Hawaii through education and the monitoring of legislative issues. The collective strength of the association helps to provide the best for its members and for the consumer.
What is the association’s role in the state’s legislative and regulatory environment?
We keep in touch with the State’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and maintain close communication with the Department’s Commissioners. We have a local law firm that monitors upcoming bills and they let us know if there is anything we need to know about. I’ve met with our state legislators and it is a great experience—you get to see how the system works and how you can make an impact for the Loan Officers and the consumer.
What is your association’s relationship like with NAMB?
NAMB keeps its state associations informed through monthly calls. We participate in order to represent our state, although it is a big haul to get to Washington, D.C. every year, but we make sure that we are supporting NAMB, and do our best to keep informed.
Do you see a lot of younger people coming out of college and going into the mortgage profession in Hawaii?
We are not seeing that. It is definitely on our radar, and we have talked about how to encourage that. It can be tough with this generation, because they want to see quick growth. We are talking about going into the high schools and colleges, and educating them to understand what it means to be a mortgage professional. They’re exposed to what doctors and CPAs do, but they may not have an idea about what we do.
What is the current state of your local housing market?
It varies by island. Our inventory is low and prices remain high, as the median price for a single-family home is $773,500 and it is $405,000 for a condo. We also have a lot of foreign investors who are moving prices up. As a result, we have a lot of families who are living together.
The Aloha State is in danger of saying “aloha” to housing unless a new wave of units comes to the market.
According to an Associated Press report, Hawaiian housing experts are warning that their state will need between 65,000 to 80,000 new units by 2025 in order to keep up with the current demand for new housing. This is especially acute for affordable housing, as single-family homes cost a median of $750,000
“We’ll continue to see increasing median household prices which will continue to essentially squeeze out individual—especially local residents—from being able to afford a home,” said Luis Salaveria, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.
Ramping up home construction would also benefit the Hawaiian economy, according to Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.
“If we actually built enough houses to satisfy growth in population and existing shortfall, it would add one percent to our total jobs, one percent to our total income over the whole time period, so every year we’d have one percent more jobs than we would otherwise,” said Bonham. “It’s by no means a small issue.”
When it comes to closing costs on mortgages, the Aloha State is also the most expensive state.
According to new data from Bankrate.com that analyzed closing costs on a $200,000 home loan, Hawaii had the highest average closing costs with $2,655—more than a few dollars above the national average of $2,128. The other states with high closing costs were all along the Atlantic coast: New York ($2,560), North Carolina ($2,409), Delaware ($2,358), South Carolina ($2,322), and Connecticut ($2,313).
In contrast, Pennsylvania’s closing costs were $1,837. Low closing costs were also abundant in Wisconsin ($1,863), Kentucky ($1,874), South Dakota ($1,904), Oklahoma ($1,911), and Missouri ($1,926).
“Thanks to the new and improved mortgage disclosures that the CFPB introduced last October, closing cost estimates have become more accurate because they mandate that lenders include all costs ahead of time,” said Holden Lewis, Bankrate.com’s senior mortgage analyst. “This is great for consumers who can now comparison shop with more confidence.”