Down payment assistance essential to bridging national homeownership affordability gap

Down payment assistance essential to bridging national homeownership affordability gap

September 11, 2005

A bipartisan broker in King George's court: NAMB President Bob Armbruster carries the message of mortgage brokers to the Republican National Convention in New York CityPeggy KernGeorge W. Bush,Republican National Convention,Republicans,NAMB,Bob Armbruster
In these times of political polarization, flip-flops versus
stubborn stay-the-courses, swift boat vets and sluggish war abroad,
National Association of Mortgage Brokers President Bob Armbruster
has a difficult job: maintaining bipartisan communication in what
is possibly the most heated presidential campaign of our lifetime.
Three months ago, NAMB Government Affairs Vice President Roy
DeLoach traveled to Boston for the Democratic National Convention
(Bob was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts). This time,
it was Bob's turn, and the atmosphere in New York made Boston look
like a tea party. Together with Roy and Government Affairs
Committee Chair Marc Savitt, he flew into the Big Apple on the eve
of the Republican National Convention, when close to a half-million
Americans marched past Madison Square Garden to protest the Bush
Administration and the RNC's presence in New York. Throughout the
week, both legal and illegal protests were staged throughout the
city. Republican delegates were followed by activists; a few even
made it to the convention floor. The good news: NAMB's hotel was in
lower Manhattan, far away from the ruckus of midtown ... but
poignantly close to Ground Zero. During the last week of August,
New York was a very small town.
The Mortgage Press' offices are located just outside of
the city, so I was able to catch up with Bob on his last day in
town. I chose a lunch spot in the offbeat East Village, a
neighborhood consciously separated from the city's hustle and
bustle. Even here, however, politics were present. Drawn on a wall
across the street from our café were two opposing arrows, one
pointing toward "Bush," the other toward "Truth." At one point, a
man walked by, dressed in a chicken suit, brandishing an American
flag and a band of bullets draped across his chest. Strange, even
for New York's East Village. In today's political climate, even
chickens are choosing sides.
But not NAMB. Bob was quick to point out that their presence at
the RNC should not be construed as an endorsement of Bush-Cheney,
nor should their presence in Boston be interpreted as endorsing
Kerry-Edwards. NAMB's primary purpose in New York, beyond
emboldening the voice of the mortgage broker amid the clamor of
today's "big" issues, was to attend the housing trade group
meeting, an annual gathering sponsored by Freddie Mac, the Mortgage
Bankers Association of America, the National Association of
Homebuilders and a host of other industry organizations. Also on
NAMB's schedule was a dinner salute to the House Financial Services
Committee at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. The event is a
chance to thank Rep. Michael Oxley and his committee for their past
accomplishments, and also discuss future goals. For NAMB, this
means a uniform national standard for the mortgage industry that
will (finally) level the playing field and streamline the patchwork
of state laws. NAMB has even drafted a simplified, standardized
mortgage package and closing instructions that would reduce the
amount of paperwork required at the closing table. Also stressed
was the need to enforce existing laws, rather than heaping more
legislation on an already over-burdened industry.
NAMB carried this message through a whirlwind of lobbying
efforts that took them from the Copacabana, to the U.S.S. Intrepid,
to the floor of Madison Square Garden. Included on the itinerary
was a fund-raiser for Rep. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who is
running for the Senate seat now occupied by Sen. Zell Miller, a
private reception for Sen. Miller, the RNC's keynote speaker, a
reception for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a luncheon honoring Speaker of
the House Dennis Hastert and a reception for Rep. Bob Ney. The team
from NAMB was also on the floor of Madison Square Garden to hear
First Lady Laura Bush and California Gov. Arnold
By the time I sat down with Bob, he had spent several days
crisscrossing the city, disseminating NAMB's message among
lawmakers and delegates. He was exhilarated, and tired. Earlier
that morning, Wholesale Access had released new research figures
indicating that brokers' market share has decreased by 10-12
percent, probably the result of a slow-down in some market
segments. Still, people would have questions. Bob checked the
e-mail on his Blackberry ... an NAMB member was upset over the
association's support of the Kerry-Edwards Campaign's call for a
national uniform lending standard. He would have to contact her,
After lunch, we took a taxi to Ground Zero, where windows are
still boarded up and firefighters still look weary. Then we walked
to the water and looked at the Statue of Liberty. New York is a
brave city, even when we're divided politically. So much of the
country is these days. Bob was flying out the following morning to
continue his travels to various state conferences. The coming weeks
would take him from Biloxi, Miss. to Oconomowoc, Wis. to Denver. He
would continue talking with lawmakers about what's best for the
industry and consumers. He would talk about his plans with NAMB
members nationwide. He would e-mail that concerned member to
explain that NAMB is not endorsing a candidate, but rather,
supporting all lawmakers who make smart decisions for the industry.
There is much work to do.
And in this political climate, bipartisanship is a tough
platform to sell.