NMP's Mortgage Professional of the Month

Aimia Doucet is a Loan Officer with GMFS Mortgage in Lafayette, La.
Aimia Doucet is a Loan Officer with GMFS Mortgage in Lafayette, La. Since last December, she has been President of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Doucet about her work with this trade organization.
Aimia Doucet is a Loan Officer with GMFS Mortgage in Lafayette, La. 
Why should mortgage professionals in your state join LMLA?
We host a convention every year that provides education to our members. We bring in top educators and bring in all of the wholesalers that want to highlight their loan products. During this time, we share our ideas as the Originators join together as one, with the main purpose of promoting homeownership.
 
How is LMLA involved in the legislative and regulatory environment?
At the national level, we have NAMB lobbying for us. Closer to home, we have very little regulation of the industry that is governed by the state. We’ve been blessed, in that regard. The Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions regulates licensing. However, since the SAFE Act was passed, they do not audit as they have in the past.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishment in your work with LMLA?
The biggest and best message that we give other Originators is that they have our support. It is a tough industry and we are doing the best to encourage young professionals to become Loan Originators. Even though we may be in competition with each other, it is important to the profession that we work closely with one another in order to be stronger as a group.
 
Aimia Doucet is a Loan Officer with GMFS Mortgage in Lafayette, La.Are you involved in other organizations outside of the LMLA?
I work with the Acadian Home Builders Association, where I serve on the Membership Committee. I serve as President of the Acadiana Mortgage Lenders Association and am a member of the Realtor Association of Acadiana.
 
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
It is definitely important to encourage young professionals into mortgage careers. The average Loan Officer age, the last time I checked, was 48. I work with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Finance Department on creating awareness of this career. I am seeing an increase in new involvement in the industry; however, the increase is slow and not where it could be.
 
What is the state of Louisiana’s housing market?
The housing market is definitely on the rise. We are no longer in the refi boom; it is definitely a purchase market. We are seeing an influx of young homebuyers. In fact, there was a 30 percent increase in first-time homebuyers in 2017. This is due to an increase in the availability of loan programs that require much lower downpayments than in the past. The most popular are conventional products that only require three percent down. We are still overcoming that young adults are unaware that a 20 percent downpayment is simply no longer required to purchase a home.

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

 
Ernest Jones Jr. is a Senior Mortgage Consultant with Lend Smart Mortgage LLC in Tucson, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals
Ernest Jones Jr. is a Senior Mortgage Consultant with Lend Smart Mortgage LLC in Tucson, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals (AZAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his leadership in this trade group.
 Ernest Jones Jr. is a Senior Mortgage Consultant with Lend Smart Mortgage LLC in Tucson, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals
How did you first get involved with AZAMP? What was the route that took you to your current leadership role?
I retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2001 and joined the mortgage industry in 2002 after spending a year in the insurance/security industry. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Southern Chapter of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Brokers (AZAMB), which is now AZAMP.
 
My primary reason for joining AZAMB was to affiliate myself with individuals who displayed the commitment, dedication and integrity of a mortgage professional. After becoming an AZAMB Board Member, I worked on several committees and served as Vice President. In 2003, I was given the opportunity to serve as Board President when the President resigned due to health conditions.
 
In 2008, I was given a second opportunity to serve as President of AZAMB’s Southern Chapter. Serving on the Board with other dedicated professionals is an honor and privilege. Each member on the Board has the skill set and experience to serve as President if they are willing to lead.
 
In Arizona, AZAMP Chapter Presidents also serve on the AZAMP State Board. Therefore, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on either or both the Southern Chapter or State Board of AZAMP since joining the mortgage industry in 2002.
 
What are the benefits of being part of AZAMP?
The primary benefit in my opinion is being able to affiliate with other industry professionals. AZAMP is not about procuring business for members. Instead, the organization is about promoting the common business interest of those engaged in the industry.
 
Additionally, AZAMP’s goal is to promote and enhance the image of the mortgage lending profession throughout the state of Arizona. AZAMP also has an established relationship with NAMB who advocates for Mortgage Loan Originators on the national level.
 
At the state level, AZAMP holds an annual Mortgage Expo which provides MLOs an opportunity to interact with wholesalers and learn about new programs which benefit consumers. AZAMP also hold events such as bowl-a-thons and scholarship drives to support local youth, blood drives for the community, continuing education classes and monthly lunch-learn events for members.
 
Ernest Jones Jr. is a Senior Mortgage Consultant with Lend Smart Mortgage LLC in Tucson, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Association of Mortgage ProfessionalsWhat is AZAMP’s legislative agenda today?
Currently, the primary focus is at the national level, where NAMB is focusing on the three percent Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule. The rule primarily affects consumers purchasing homes between the $100,000-$200,000 range by limiting their options to use Mortgage Brokers due to the three percent rule. A Congressional bill is presently being worked to have the three percent QM rule revised. There are several other concerns which were addressed during NAMB’s Annual Legislative & Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
Since you have been with AZAMP, what do you see as your most significant accomplishment?
The association’s ability to stay engaged with MLOs during market and technological changes is perhaps our most significant accomplishment. Especially considering how technology makes it challenging to get MLOs to participate in live events.
 
Also, having the membership support the change of the association’s name from “Arizona Association of Mortgage Brokers” to “Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals” was very important. In doing so, it opened the doors for other industry professionals to become AZAMP members and serve as Board Members. In Arizona, Mortgage Brokers, Mortgage Bankers, Appraisers, Insurance Agents, Title Escrow Officers, etc. are encouraged to become members of AZAMP.
 
Outside of NAMB, does AZAMP have direct relations with other mortgage industry or housing-related trade groups?
No, not a direct link like other than NAMB. We have relations with other industry professionals on an individual basis. However, we do not any other established local, state or national affiliations.
 
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
NAMB recently held a SWARM event in Phoenix which addressed the importance of attracting young professionals into the industry. The average age of the Arizona MLO is above 50 years of age. The primary challenge for newcomers is being able to earn an income while learning the business. The mortgage industry is very competitive, especially for those just entering the industry.
 
Perhaps the biggest challenge is earning enough income while building a strong client base. Therefore, most young people tend to be employed by the big companies who have the financial resources to train and keep individuals on board longer while they learn the business. It is extremely difficult for Mom and Pop Shops to hire and keep younger, less-experienced individuals.
 
What is your local housing market like today?
It is indeed a seller’s market. Homes do not stay on the market very long, especially homes in the $100,000 to $200,000 range. Many buyers are making offers prior to visiting properties. Additionally, sellers are less likely to give concessions and/or negotiate price due to the lack of housing inventory.
Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions. Since December 2017, he has been President of the Orange County Chapter of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with CAMP’s Orange County Chapter.
 Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions
Your leadership role in this CAMP Chapter is a volunteer job. Why are you taking time away from your busy schedule to work as a volunteer?
We are advocates of the mortgage industry in one of the most regulated and compliance burdened states in the nation—if not the most. If I don’t volunteer, who else is going to do it? I feel I could make a difference. This industry is getting so crushed by regulation and somebody has to be the voice of common sense.
 
Is CAMP your only experience in volunteer leadership?
Sixteen years ago, I started the Labor Day Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) where nine of us who are friends from college–self-funded, take high-risk kids from foster parents and heinous upbringing and pay for their college education.
 
What is the size of the CAMP Orange County Chapter? Why should local mortgage professionals be part of this Chapter?
The Chapter has approximately 65 paying members. The mortgage people are really busy and most don’t see membership as a benefit. One tipping point is that mortgage professionals have to be NMLS-licensed. Thus, we sponsor NMLS training certification for members. Each CAMP Chapter has a Government Affairs person and we focus on what’s important for our industry. When we meet with our elected officials, we go as a group with a less-is-more mindset: Five proposals, with one that we are against and four that we support. We don’t get a lot of time with the elected officials and often, meet with their Chief of Staff.
 
What has been on your legislative agenda lately?
We have been against more taxes in this absolutely crazy tax-burdened state. What keeps popping up is SB 993, a proposal to tax B2B services. For example, if you have an attorney and his bill is $10,000, that service could be taxed like a sales tax. One could pay the tax on the attorney’s services, and the attorney is also taxed. Now, take all of the people brought together in the mortgage process: Notary, title service, third-party processor, etc. Imagine being taxed on all of their fees. That can add $500 to $4,000 more to get a loan, which is supposed to be a non-taxable event. CAMP is monitoring and lobbying against this proposal.
 
How long have you been in the mortgage profession?
I originated my first loan in 1996. One year later, started Nationwide Lending Corp. I have been with Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions going on five years now.
 
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage SolutionsThat is a lengthy career. Do you see today’s younger generation coming into mortgage careers?
I see younger people in the industry in three areas—when they have a relative in the mortgage industry, (father-son brokers) in servicing and in the call center environment. As for young people coming in as self-generating Loan Officers, no.
 
What do you think is holding them back?
The industry is not as appealing as tech. There’s no college courses to become a Mortgage Loan Officer. There is a lot of compliance and testing, and that is really not glamorous. Plus, I can go to college and get a finance, history or philosophy degree, but I cannot go to college and get a mortgage degree. California used to be one of the mortgage meccas of the nation, with well-paying and gratifying careers. We need to educate students and college counselors that these careers exist. In the end, this profession does not require a college degree.

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

 
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with his regarding his work with his state trade group.
 Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA)
How and why did you get involved with the California Mortgage Bankers Association? Can you share the track within CMBA that led to the leadership role?
Everyone in the mortgage banking business, myself included, has benefited in countless ways from the work done by our state and national trade groups. Many of us attend great conferences and events that allow us to network with colleagues and spark valuable business connections. Many of us know, in perhaps a vague or non-specific way, that our trade groups represent our interests in legislative and regulatory arenas and protect our ability to provide access to affordable credit for consumers and businesses.
 
However, many of us are not aware of all the work that goes into making this happen, both from a staff perspective and the Board of Directors of these organizations. I felt that it was my turn to give back to the industry that has given so much to me and provide my knowledge and experience to help lead my state group, the CMBA, in what has turned out to be a very interesting time. My direct involvement came in stages, as I helped plan and organize the association’s annual Western States CREF Conference for a number of years, and eventually, was asked to deepen my involvement by joining the Board of Directors, which I did in in 2009.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join your association?
Members join for a variety of reasons: Building connections (finding and developing new business opportunities), keeping teams educated and up-to-date on the latest trends, and supporting advocacy efforts. Which priority is more important varies from member to member, and it often depends more on the company’s situation than any of the activities or functions of the association.
 
For example, a new start-up tech vendor is likely joining to find potential clients among the membership and establish themselves as a reputable firm and a subject matter expert. A residential Mortgage Banker expanding their business into multiple states is likely to have serious regulatory/compliance challenges and educating their employees (through conferences or Webinars) is critical.
 
Finally, when we read about a legislative proposal that puts our ability to do business at risk, suddenly we remember that our state trade group has our back, and thanks to support through membership, the association is ready to effectively make a strong argument and head off a potentially disastrous bill by working with lawmakers to either amend or defeat such a proposal. When it comes to membership, the bottom line is this: Association staff and Directors should be well aware that there is no requirement to join the association and should therefore work hard to maximize every dollar spent on membership.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Here in California, our full-time legislature (one of the few in the country) proposals proposes dozens of bills each year that either directly or indirectly impact the mortgage industry. This year we’ve got several bills that are particularly important, including a few that we are strongly supporting. 
 
AB 2368 would allow for a new remote online notarization system in California, and the California MBA is proud to be a sponsor of this legislation. If you’ve purchased a home in the past few years, you’ve likely seen the wonderful transformation that is taking place in the process, thanks to innovations in technology. The front-end of transactions, and the borrower’s experience have been dramatically improved; however, the closing of a mortgage is still very much unchanged. You need to meet face-to-face with a notary (often in public places with little security) to close the loan. This bill would allow California to join with a growing number of states to allow the tech revolution to reach the final stage of the lending process and allow for borrowers to close their loans remotely and securely through an online platform. 
 
We’ve received a good reception from legislators so far and are hopeful this bill can pass this year. We’re also strongly in support of SB 1087, which would add new enforcement mechanisms and regulatory authority to hold PACE solicitors accountable and continue to better protect vulnerable consumers. Our legislature passed legislation last year to start that process, and SB 1087 is a follow-up measure that will regulators to take quick action to stop abusive solicitors who aren’t honest with consumers about the nature or cost of the program. 
 
Finally, we’re opposing SB 818, which would reinstitute several of the provisions of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights (CHBOR) that expired at the end of 2017. When the CHBOR was initially passed, we lived in a much-different regulatory environment; the CFPB didn’t even exist yet (hard to imagine!). Now, we have several concerns with the bill, including the fact that it doesn’t have a sunset date, and seems to be pushing the boundaries beyond the original CHBOR language.
 
Industry folks who aren’t lobbyists or don’t have connections to powerful lawmakers can still make a difference in their state’s advocacy efforts by attending their legislative day at their state capital. We just held ours in March, and it is always effective for industry professionals who have on-the-ground knowledge to speak to legislators about the real-world consequences of some of the legislation they are considering. I strongly encourage folks to take advantage of those opportunities, as well as attending national events, like the MBA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA)What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
As you may have guessed, advocacy and political involvement is a particular interest of mine, and so I’ve been very involved in improving the CMBA’s political activities, specifically through our Political Action Committee, CAMPAC. It is crucial for industry to support the candidates that share an appreciation and understanding for the important role that business plays in our state, including the real estate finance industry. Making our voice heard in campaigns is done by raising funds for CAMPAC, and in a state that doesn’t have the most business-friendly reputation, it makes it all the more important that we support candidates to want to see our economy and opportunities expand. I’ve played a role in building support for CAMPAC–not only with our membership, but even within the Board of Directors. As a result, we’ If we haven’t built and nurtured those relationships during the “quiet” years, it will be hard to build trust and maximize our collective strength when we really need it.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is a huge challenge for the mortgage banking industry! Due to the financial crisis, consolidation and a few other factors, today’s Mortgage Banker is not only much older than they were 10 years ago, they are older on average than they will be in 10 years. The Millennial generation aren’t just consumers, they are employees, and we need their voices in our industry. There are several ways that we can more quickly integrate them into the fabric of the mortgage banking community, starting with involvement in our state trade groups. 
 
For example, CMBA has a new program that allows members to send up to three employees, 35 years of age or younger, to any conference for free. This solves a huge problem for companies with tight budgets (aka every company) who want to invest in their younger, rising stars, but can’t afford to send them to expensive conferences and events. If your state trade group isn’t doing something like this, you should encourage them to–it’s a great way to incentivize companies to show their employees that they value them and want to attend to their professional development. 
 
Beyond our trade groups, I think that we need to do a better job of encouraging colleges and universities to build real estate financed-focused curriculum and programs. I’ve rarely met a colleague who went to school to be a Mortgage Banker–most of us were simply fortunate enough to stumble into the real estate finance industry. That’s why we need to begin to build enthusiasm for our industry at the collegiate level. Several universities in California do have real estate focused curricula, but we need more participation from the schools and we need our companies (and their employees, who are alumni) to push schools to develop these programs.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Diverse. California has more diversity of housing than any other state market in the nation. Median home prices are at or near all-time highs, having passed $507,000 in December 2017. That doesn’t tell you much, however. For example, the San Francisco Bay area is a unique housing market, with little new home supply added each year, major affordability challenges, and a very robust rental and multifamily market. 
 
On the other hand, locales in the Central Valley, Inland Empire, or Northeast have an entirely different makeup, with a much more pro-growth environment, and more opportunities for first-time homebuyers. That doesn’t even include the Los Angeles-area, Orange County, and San Diego markets, which have their own unique housing profile.
 
Overall, our biggest challenge is affordability, and it’s not one that is going to be easily solved. Instead of a silver bullet, we are likely going to see a mix of new supply, more emphasis on density, and making sure mortgage lenders are able to provide adequate financing to meet the demand.

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

 
Kevin Moran is Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Retail Mortgage Lending at Webster Bank, headquartered in Waterbury, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association
Kevin Moran is Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Retail Mortgage Lending at Webster Bank, headquartered in Waterbury, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with his state trade group.
 Kevin Moran is Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Retail Mortgage Lending at Webster Bank, headquartered in Waterbury, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association
How and why did you get involved with the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA)? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role in this group?
I was asked to join the CMBA Board by Tom Egan, who was the President at the time as well as a friend and mentor. I became involved because I recognized the importance CMBA plays as a champion for the industry at a state, regional and national level. I began as a Board and committee member with a focus on Strategic Planning, which led to the Board voting me into an Executive Committee role, and ultimately, Board President.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join CMBA?
CMBA is well-known for its leadership and advocacy. Professional mortgage bankers choose to join the CMBA because it provides educational opportunities, networking events and legislative advocacy that supports the industry and encourages professional development.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
CMBA’s Legislative Committee meets bi-weekly during the legislative session to monitor and discuss pending legislation and is a strong advocate for the interests of the industry with the state legislature through our lobbying efforts. In addition, we work closely with the MBA on national regulatory and legislative issues.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I would say continuing the work of my predecessors to strengthen the financial health of the CMBA in order to ensure our ability to serve our stakeholders and the industry as a whole. That, along with expanding our membership base and ensuring strong Board and committee participation. One of my key objectives is to launch our “CMBA on Campus” initiative, an outreach campaign focused on two- and four-year colleges in Connecticut to educate students on career opportunities in the mortgage banking industry. Our Executive Director Barbara Goodrich is helping to spearhead this effort, and we are looking forward to some great results.
 
Kevin Moran is Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Retail Mortgage Lending at Webster Bank, headquartered in Waterbury, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers AssociationWhat is the synergy between your organization and other industry trade groups, both nationally and in affiliated industries (Realtors, homebuilders, appraiser, etc.)?
We work very closely with the MBA on legislative and regulatory policy. MBA Chairman David Motley was a guest of ours at our premiere event the New England Mortgage Expo in January, and I was fortunate to be able join Dave along with our Legal Counsel Norm Roos on the keynote panel. We have Realtors, appraisers and homebuilders as affiliate members of the CMBA. Past Connecticut Association of Realtors President Linda Fercodini is on our Board and provides insights into the issues that are critical to both CAR and NAR.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
As I noted earlier, our “CMBA on Campus” is an initiative that we hope will generate awareness and interest for the next generation of mortgage bankers. In addition, we have created a Future Leaders Committee which has proven to be a great networking and talent development platform.
 
How would you define the current state of Connecticut’s housing market?
The housing market in Connecticut has lagged in terms of recovery from the financial crisis relative to our surrounding states and home value appreciation is expected to be relatively flat year-over-year. While rates have risen over the past several months, they remain at historically low levels, the economy is on a firmer footing than we have seen in a decade and consumer confidence remains high which should translate into a solid housing market for our state for 2018.
Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Bucky Houser is National Retention Manager at Arvest Central Mortgage in Little Rock, Ark., and Past President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas (MBAA)
Bucky Houser is National Retention Manager at Arvest Central Mortgage in Little Rock, Ark., and Past President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas (MBAA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with this state-based trade association.
Bucky Houser is National Retention Manager at Arvest Central Mortgage in Little Rock, Ark., and Past President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas (MBAA)
 
How and why did you get involved with the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role?
I was asked by a prior manager and longtime mentor, Todd White, who is also a Past President of the MBAA, if I wanted to join the Board of Directors. I took immediate advantage of the opportunity. I had always participated at some level, and I felt it was important to have our voices heard as mortgage industry leaders. I served as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President prior to my role as MBAA President from 2016 to 2017.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join MBAA?
First and foremost, we offer networking and idea sharing. We provide a platform that brings professionals together. We offer professional development through industry training which is key, as well.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We serve as an informational resource for our local, state and federal elected officials. Our responsibility as the experts in the industry is to inform our lawmakers about the impact of legislation on the general public and how it can have an impact on existing and potential new homeowners across Arkansas. 
 
Many of our past Executive Officers have also served with the national Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). I’ve been a member of the MBA’s Legislative and State Regulatory Committee over the past two years and have actively participated in the MBA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. Being active and heard on a national level is of extreme importance as many lawmakers do not have a broad level of knowledge of the mortgage industry as a whole. Our insight and input is vitally important to help them make informed decisions. This is a great benefit to our membership, as it focuses on items that are both relevant and that need to be addressed and we are honored to have the opportunity to advocate on their behalf.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I don’t claim any personal accomplishment. Everything we do is a team effort. Our Board, Executive Officers and membership all play an active role. Many thanks to our wonderful membership for their support as we recently raised money to build a Habitat for Humanity home for someone in need.
 
Bucky Houser is National Retention Manager at Arvest Central Mortgage in Little Rock, Ark., and Past President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas (MBAA)What is synergy between MBAA and other industry trade groups?
Some of our members participate with other trade industry associations, including the Arkansas Bankers Association, the Arkansas Real Estate Association, Arkansas Land Title Association and the Arkansas Home Builders Association. We value our partnerships with these fine groups and appreciate their support of us as well.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers? And are you seeing more young people in your state becoming mortgage professionals?
Unfortunately, we are not. That is an initiative we have started to address over the past couple of years. We realize the need to replenish our industry and develop programs to reach these young people. The key to doing that is education. We need to get ourselves in front of younger people and talk to them about which career path they may look to follow. I hope that we can partner with local universities and community colleges in the near future and put together an educational curriculum.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Strong and vibrant. The Arkansas housing market tends to be more conservative, and it didn’t bear as much of a brunt as many other states did in the economic meltdown. Our outlook here is absolutely wonderful.

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

 
 
Joanne Johansen is President and CEO of Platinum Mortgage Solutions in Wallingford, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Association
Joanne Johansen is President and CEO of Platinum Mortgage Solutions in Wallingford, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Association (CMA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with her regarding her trade association leadership.
 Joanne Johansen is President and CEO of Platinum Mortgage Solutions in Wallingford, Conn., and President of the Connecticut Mortgage Association
How and why did you get involved in your state's trade group? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role in this group?
It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has the moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.”
 
When I reopened my company, Platinum Mortgage Solutions in March of 2017, after working with other mortgage companies for approximately eight years, I was determined to be an active participant in the mortgage industry. My Compliance Attorney and good friend Wendy Bernard of The Bernard Law Group suggested that I join the Connecticut Mortgage Association (CMA). I immediately recognized this as an opportunity to be fully engaged in the business I love and I found the CMA to be natural fit.
 
I realized immediately that I could make a difference in an organization that had been struggling with declining membership of the past few years, and the similarity between the CMA and my philosophy of rebuilding Platinum Mortgage completely aligned. Just as I was breathing life into my “new” company, I was confident that I could do the same for the CMA and was determined to bring some spark and positive energy to the organization. I accepted the CMA board’s nomination and became the President of the CMA in January 2018.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join CMA?
I believe that mortgage professionals join the CMA because of the spirit of community and inclusion that the organization offers. As Mortgage Brokers, we have endured unique challenges together and I believe that we have a collective desire for industry support and organization.
 
The new CMA is working hard to create an organization where Mortgage Brokers are empowered through networking and education, in an environment that supports and encourages members to make prudent and strategic decisions based on the lessons we have learned as an industry in the past 10 to 15 years. We also enjoy the support of corporate sponsors who support the broker community and we provide countless opportunities for continuing education and networking with fellow professionals.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight? 
The CMA represents its members at the state and federal level. CMA monitors legislation affecting mortgage professionals, including issues such as mortgages, residential real estate financing and the mortgage origination process, and other related matters. CMA supports business-friendly legislation, including bills that improve the real estate financing industry and mortgage origination process. CMA opposes legislation that creates impediments to business growth and development in the state. CMA advocates its members’ interests before state agencies that regulate mortgage professionals, including the Department of Banking. CMA participates in industry coalitions with like-minded organizations to help shape policies and decisions that affect businesses.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I proudly can say that since I assumed the role of president, the CMA has increased our membership by over 40 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Additionally, we acquired three new corporate sponsors, Plaza Home Mortgage Inc., First American Title and CCS Insurance. We have extended the invitation to all Connecticut Mortgage Brokers and we constantly communicate to our peers that there is power in numbers. Sometimes all it takes is to extend the invitation, open the door and getting the word out the community that the CMA is back. It is empowering to see Mortgage Brokers engaged, involved and getting excited about the CMA again.
 
What is synergy between your organization and other industry trade groups, both nationally (MBA, NAMB) and in affiliated industries (Realtors, home builders, appraiser, etc.)?
We work with all industry professionals to ensure that our organization has the broadest scope in representation in the mortgage industry. Our goal is to always align the CMA with industry participants and organizations that demonstrate their focused interest in the advancement and success of mortgage brokers. 
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
We need to do a better job of educating young people about the rewarding career they can enjoy as a mortgage professional. For example, when I started in this industry, I was 30-years-old and prior to that time, I was unaware of how much of a positive impact this industry would have on my life and future.
 
Sure, we face challenges, but so does any career and I believe that awareness is one the key ingredients for attracting young people to this industry. Young people see this industry with fresh eyes and have a more informed perspective of Millennials and other young buyers. The CMA believes that the organization is a powerful gateway of information and education to young people.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Unofficially, Connecticut’s industry professionals are generally describing the current period as a “sellers’ market” as the inventory for homes is reportedly for first time homebuyers. Simultaneously, there appears to be a rising trend of single or unmarried couples looking for properties, and this demand appears to have driven purchase prices higher in the state.
 
I read recently that around 16 percent of all homes sales in the state of Connecticut are short sales or REO sales (bank-owned foreclosure) and regardless of the obvious improvements in the market these properties still remain in rotation. So, we while have qualified buyers, there are not enough homes.
 
On the positive side, the spring market has really begun to bloom in Connecticut and the new trend appears to be an increase in the sophistication and knowledge of the purchasers over similarly situated consumers of a decade ago. Informed and knowledgeable consumers are better for the industry and it helps us to do our part to facilitate responsible mortgage practices.

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

 
Ray Williams is Vice President of Business Development at MortgageBanc, a branch of Fairway Independent Mortgage in Birmingham, Ala., and current President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Alabama
Ray Williams is Vice President of Business Development at MortgageBanc, a branch of Fairway Independent Mortgage in Birmingham, Ala., and current President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Alabama (MBAA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Williams about his work with this trade group. Ray’s mortgage career began in 1996 with Transamerica. Prior to joining MortgageBanc he has held the position of Loan Officer, Producing Branch Manager, Inside Wholesale AE, Systems Admin, SVP of Production and Operations, and even some consulting work.
Ray Williams is Vice President of Business Development at MortgageBanc, a branch of Fairway Independent Mortgage in Birmingham, Ala., and current President of the MBAA 
How and why did you get involved with the MBAA? And can you share your track within the association that led to your leadership role?
In 2010, I really had a desire to get involved somewhere where I could help make a difference in our industry and obtain more knowledge as well. I found out that the MBAA held monthly education seminars and is well-known as an association that “Encourages among its members, sound and ethical business practices,” and is also involved in the communities with education events, Salvation Army Christmas Angels, and the Habitat for Humanity.
 
Here is my track record within the association: In 2017-2018, served as President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Alabama; from 2016-2017, was Vice President of MBAA; in 2015-2016, served MBAA as Secretary/Treasurer, Convention Committee First Chair, and Convention Entertainment Chair; in 2014-2015, served as MBAA Convention Committee Co-Chair, Convention Entertainment Chair, Board Liaison for Membership Committee, Future Leaders Committee member, Golf/Recreation Committee member; in 2013-2014, was Membership Committee Chair, Spring Convention Committee member, Convention Entertainment Chair, Future Leaders Committee member, and Golf/Recreation Committee member; in 2012-2013, was Spring Convention Committee member, Convention Entertainment Co-Chair, Future Leaders Committee member, Golf/Recreation Committee member; and from 2011-2012, I served the association as Spring Convention Committee member, Legislative/PAC Committee member, and Golf/Recreation Committee member.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join MBAA?

We offer an extensive education calendar with professional designations for our members (ALAMB), networking opportunities and other events, like our annual convention, to meet with our members. We coordinate our efforts with the national MBA to strengthen our association. We work with other trade associations as well because we often share common goals and concerns. We offer a Future Leaders program, an intern program and continuing education sessions. We bring real value to being a member. It affords them instant credibility that they are a professional in our industry.
 
What role does MBAA play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We take an active role with the national MBA on addressing both state and federal legislative and regulatory issues. Our involvement is the only way to influence lawmakers and regulators. We recently co-sponsored a state legislative reception with the HomeBuilders Association of Alabama, and that shows we are working together and demonstrates our strength in numbers. One issue that we would like to see addressed is the eNotary issue. As we advance into the digital age, this will be even more important.
 
Ray Williams is Vice President of Business Development at MortgageBanc, a branch of Fairway Independent Mortgage in Birmingham, Ala., and current President of the MBAAWhat do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
One was being honored and invited to become an Officer on our Board, which eventually lead to me becoming President of the association. Other accomplishments while I was a Board Member: suggesting updates to our logo, an increased social media presence, a new more user-friendly Web site, the new designation name Alabama Accredited Mortgage Banker (ALAMB), when I was the Convention Committee chair I had one of the most successful conventions on record. Also, the first committee I was ever appointed chair to, the Membership Committee, we helped grow our membership by almost 20 percent.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
I would encourage mortgage companies to develop a rookie program that educates, encourages, and mentors young professionals into our industry. Also, our local association started an internship program where, we work with colleges around Alabama, and ACRE (Alabama Center for Real Estate), to find college students with an interest in our industry, that are willing to be hired as interns over the summer, which exposes them to the entire workings of the mortgage process, as well as some classroom work.
 
How would you define the current state of Alabama’s housing market?
I see our housing market as rapidly growing, especially with all the new industries moving into our state. As a matter of fact, most of our metropolitan areas are now starting to face a housing shortage because of the wonderful growth our state is experiencing.

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

 
Nicholas Monardo is Vice President of Wholesale Lending at CNN Mortgage in Scottsdale, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association (AMLA)
Nicholas Monardo is Vice President of Wholesale Lending at CNN Mortgage in Scottsdale, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association (AMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Nick regarding his work with AMLA.
Nicholas Monardo is Vice President of Wholesale Lending at CNN Mortgage in Scottsdale, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association (AMLA) 
How and why did you get involved with the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association?
I have been in the business for 20 years, and decided four years ago to get more involved, and joined my local AMLA with the encouragement and support of company owner, Ned Kneadler.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join AMLA?
For the same reason I joined: To become more involved with the profession I love. In addition, AMLA is a great resource for networking and education with peers in the business.
 
What role does AMLA play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We are very involved on a federal and state level. As a chapter of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), we follow and support solutions to national issues that affect our industry. The MBA does a great job of informing the state chapters of any issues we should be aware of and speak to our local legislators on. In fact, to help with this, we also employ a lobbyist to monitor legislative issues at the state level. We also attend the MBA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. every spring.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I feel my most significant accomplishment within AMLA has to be promoting and encouraging our members to become more involved in participating in our Leadership Group Program. We need more participation, across the board, especially from the younger generations in our industry.
 
As the past and current year president, my focus continues to be educational and leadership opportunities for our members and their employees. With the help of our Board and our Vice President of Education Sherry Olsen, we used our standing as an approved NMLS provider to provide continuing education to approximately 900 Loan Officers last year.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
I feel we need to reach out to the younger generation earlier, at the high school level, and promote our industry. The MBA and its local chapters can provide educational affordable housing opportunities for the underserved in our communities.
 
Nicholas Monardo is Vice President of Wholesale Lending at CNN Mortgage in Scottsdale, Ariz., and President of the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association (AMLA)How would you define the current state of Arizona’s housing market?
The housing market here in Arizona is very stable and strong. We just need more housing inventory!

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

 
Brent Rasmussen is President of Mortgage Specialists LLC in Omaha, Neb. and Past President of the Nebraska Association of Mortgage Brokers (NEAMB)
Brent Rasmussen is President of Mortgage Specialists LLC in Omaha, Neb. and Past President of the Nebraska Association of Mortgage Brokers (NEAMB). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with this trade group.
 Brent Rasmussen is President of Mortgage Specialists LLC in Omaha, Neb. and Past President of the Nebraska Association of Mortgage Brokers (NEAMB)
How did you become involved with the Nebraska Association of Mortgage Brokers (NEAMB) and what was the route that took you to its leadership role?
We had a state association, but it dissolved in 2003. I went over to the Iowa association because they were offering education classes, and I got involved with their activities. I brought new leadership to rebuild a Nebraska association and worked to create a new Board, write new By-Laws and recruit new members. The new association launched back in October of 2008.
 
I have been President of NEAMB twice, from 2009 to 2010 and again last year. I am now a Co-Chairman on the Board of Directors.
 
Why should mortgage professionals in Nebraska get involved with NEAMB?
We keep our members posted on educational information in the industry, and we offer opportunities for networking. We have a major conference in the fall and events throughout the year, which gives them the ability to network with their peers and see what the competition is doing.
 
What role does NEAMB play in the legislative and regulatory process?
On a state level, we have a Legislative Committee, and we talk with the state as much as we can. At the moment, there is not a lot of state oversight activity in the mortgage industry. But we do stay on top of things in case something happens, and we have contracted with a lobbyist to work on our behalf if something comes up.
 
On a national level, we try to send board members to NAMB’s national conferences. We haven’t done so in past couple of years, but we would like to this year.
 
In the course of your career, what do you see as your most significant accomplishments?
I came to the industry in 2001, and started my own company in 2004. We’re a very small company, with two originators and a processor, but we have been able to become a warehouse lender and fund our own transactions. With the association, I consider bringing education to the mortgage professionals so they can meet their industry requirements a significant accomplishment.
Brent Rasmussen is President of Mortgage Specialists LLC in Omaha, Neb. and Past President of the Nebraska Association of Mortgage Brokers (NEAMB)
What is the synergy between NEAMB and NAMB?
We abide by the national association’s Code of Ethics, and anyone who signs up to become a member of the state association also becomes a member of NAMB.
 
Are you seeing more young people come into the mortgage profession in Nebraska?

I am seeing some young people join the mortgage profession, but not a lot—I could probably count them on one hand. We need to find new Loan Officers because this is an aging profession.
 
There is still a big stigma with commission-based careers, which can make it very difficult to pay your bills. A lot of young people are not comfortable with a 100 percent commission income and they go work at banks, where they have a regular paycheck.
 
What is the housing market like in Nebraska?
It is a big sellers’ market—there are a lot more buyers than sellers. Also, not enough houses are being built. We have an exorbitant amount of land in Nebraska, as far as the eye can see, but most of the houses being built are about $300,000 per home, and not everyone can afford a home at that price.

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