Mortgage Revolution: A Catalyst for Positive Change in the Mortgage Industry ... An Interview With Brian Larrabee, Co-Founder of Mortgage Revolution
Along with Mark Green and Mark Madsen, Brian Larrabee is one of the founders of Mortgage Revolution, a non-profit grassroots movement of true mortgage professionals joining forces to influence a positive change in the mortgage industry. Larrabee is a 20-year veteran mortgage professional and founder of Estate of Mind Inc. Mortgage Revolution’s mission is to empower loan officers and the mortgage industry by setting higher standards for transparency in lending and ethical business conduct. On Friday-Sunday, Oct. 15-17, 2010, Mortgage Revolution will be holding MRev North East at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, N.Y. This conference will be Mortgage Revolution's fourth conference, after already engaging in discussions with close to 1,000 mortgage professionals in San Francisco, Atlanta and Orlando Fla. National Mortgage Professional recently sat down with Brian Larrabee to get a briefing on Mortgage Revolution, its mission and progress. NMP: Brian, thank you for taking the time to speak with National Mortgage Professional. Could you start by telling our readers why you Mark Green and Mark Madsen formed Mortgage Revolution? Brian: Back when the credit crisis and its resultant problems first hit the housing and mortgage markets, there was a void of leadership and communication within our industry. The media was having a field day, the market contractions were palpable and the finger of blame was pointed rather squarely in our direction yet there was no one standing up to set things straight. We felt that there was no better time and a well defined need to have a gathering of real professionals with a positive, educational and charitable theme. NMP: With all the recent changes and new regulations impacting the mortgage industry, what is Mortgage Revolution’s view of the current state of the industry? Brian: There’s a little dichotomy there as on the one hand, many of the new regulations are well intended yet very misguided. Then there’s the new national registration system and state licensing. These, while also missing the mark in terms of what an originator is now required to be tested on are at least creating a threshold that will prevent things like wholly uneducated telemarketers from guiding homebuyers in one of the most important financial decisions of their lives. The end result is that our ranks have been thinned in a big way. In our observations, we see that those left standing are the seasoned professionals, those that never contributed to the problems we have and those that are committed to doing the right thing for their clients, in turn making things better for our industry as a result. NMP: In general, what is Mortgage Revolution trying to accomplish? Brian: For some of us, it’s primarily about bringing people together. For others, we hope that this will ultimately lead to greater strength and respect. Right now, our futures are being dictated by those with no interest in or real understanding of the challenges, process and on the street consequences of poorly designed regulation. We have politicians and their staffs designing protocol with the stated intent of protecting consumers that in reality, only achieves the opposite. A perfect example would be the creation of the new Good Faith Estimate (GFE). Before, we had a one-page GFE that was either well understood or easy to clarify. Now, we have a three-page contract that few understand and that no one signs. It doesn’t inform a buyer of their total payment nor cash to close. This would not have happened if someone at HUD could differentiate between the perception of the industry vs. the minority that caused it and instead, reached out to the many honest and ethical professionals within to participate in the re-design of that form. NMP: Has Mortgage Revolution made a positive impact on the mortgage industry? Brian: We’re going to leave that for others to judge. However, I can say that we have had a very positive impact on those that have participated. From industry veteran speakers that have cited this as the best event of their careers to both relatively new or well seasoned loan officers that have made comments such as “it’s like drinking from a fire hose.” So, we do hope things continue moving in that direction and that more originators recognize that we’re doing this for them. If that culminates in a measurable benefit for the industry as a whole, we can all be happy. NMP: What were the key takeaways for mortgage professionals who attended the first three conferences in San Francisco, Atlanta and Orlando? Brian: I think you might get a different answer from everyone you ask on this as each event has been a little different but what I hear most is—that we still have a viable industry due to the show of strength and achievement demonstrated, that despite all the changes and oppression we have, you can still reach momentous goals as we’ve heard directly from many that are doing exactly that and finally, that there will be an upside in the end, for when the recovery occurs, it’s us that will be there as a more united group, better, stronger and ready to help. NMP: Can you talk to us about how Mortgage Revolution supports mortgage brokers and loan officers? Brian: We’re all in a very competitive business and it’s so often us vs. them, banker vs. broker, our company vs. their company and so on. We provide an opportunity and a forum for mortgage pros from all spectrums and from all across the country to get together for education, networking, strategy, leadership and camaraderie. Many of our past participants have commented that one of their favorite parts has been the connections, bonds and friendships formed. We hear of many “accountability groups” that have been spawned from the events or referral partnerships for your clients in need outside of your licensed areas, etc. Given the internet and all the social media tools we have today, it’s really easy for an LO from NY to become great friends and share or bounce ideas around with an LO from the other side of the country. We’ve found that it’s really healthy and beneficial to know others from outside your own company—it can really dispel that whole the “grass is always greener” thinking and gets you to focus on what you need to do rather than griping about the inevitable shortcomings that always exist within any company. NMP: Why should a mortgage professional attend MRev North East? Brian: Do you mean besides the free Ferrari? Okay, seriously now it’s about the only place that loan officers have to meet with peers outside of their company in an environment that is hyper-charged to deliver in just two days, more ideas, strategies, concepts, information and connections than you can possibly imagine (unless you’ve already been to one of course). Besides all that, they actually are a lot of fun too. We also realize that everyone is busy right now and for this event, we even scheduled it on a weekend so there’s minimum disruption to your work week or accessibility. NMP: What is he agenda for MRev North East and are any industry leaders scheduled to speak or conduct workshops? Brian: We’ve designed a structure that has everyone together in the morning for keynote style presentations and then after lunch, there are three workshop style “tracks” that will be run by groups and individual presenters. If you come to Tarrytown you will be able to choose between learning how to make videos from people like Dustin Hughes whose videos have seen tens of thousands of plays on YouTube or you can learn about how to get beyond social media, blogging, Webinars and more with people like Dan Green, Mark Madsen & Chris Brown or the “High Touch” track which will be all about the well honed skills of top producing loan officers like Khai McBride, Derek Egeberg and Ed Conarchy. We have and will continue to feature well known presenters like Todd Duncan, Frank Garay & Brian Stevens from TBWS, Dave Hershman, Marc Savitt, Rene Rodriguez, Sue Woodard, Jim McMahon, Ric Edelman, Troy McClain, etc., yet what really sets us apart is that many presenters are actually active loan officers that are doing something really special in their markets and having great success with it. It’s pretty amazing that these superstars are willing to volunteer their time and pay their own way to come and give their secrets away for free. This is not one of those come get motivated and then go back to your old habits events. There is no walking away empty handed. You will make and post your first video, you will have your new blog online and populated or you will learn how to bring your business to the next level the way the top producers do and we’ll wrap it all up with a blueprint session to assure you can keep it all going as effortlessly as is possible. NMP: I understand that all profits from Mortgage Revolution’s conferences are donated to charity. Could you explain the concept behind this philanthropy effort? Brian: The mortgage industry and particularly those that comprise it now have been given a bad rap. We all know there were those that deserved it but they have left the building. Those that are left standing are hard working professionals, educated, experienced and ethical. Our mission is to show by example that we are not in this for ourselves but to help others through education and charity. We aren’t paid for what we do and in fact, we actually pay to be at our own events just like everyone else. We are all volunteers and if the media that demonizes our industry is ever willing to open their eyes and dig a little deeper, this is the very real and honest story that they’ll find. NMP: How can a mortgage professional register for MRev North East on October 15, 16 and 17? Brian: The easiest way is to go to www.mrev.org where you can find info and the Eventbrite registration link. We hope to see you there! For more information on Mortgage Revolution, please visit http://www.mortgagerevolution.info/about.