Whenever I meet someone in the housing industry I am always asked, “How is NAMB doing? Is NAMB weathering the storm? What is NAMB doing for me?” Those questions take a little time to answer so I cannot always give a detailed answer. So, I decided to write an article about what NAMB is doing and include a little recent history.
In July of 2010, I took over as NAMB’s Treasurer. It wasn’t a job for which I volunteered. Someone who had a twisted sense of humor must have nominated me. Things couldn’t have looked darker for the mortgage industry and for NAMB. It looked as though property values could sink to credit card levels. We had lost Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in bankruptcy and the big banks were wobbling. Mortgage originators were leaving the business in droves. NAMB revenues had plummeted far below operational expenses.
The NAMB board wrestled with these issues for weeks and even months. As Industry Partners declared bankruptcy, their creditors demanded money they had paid NAMB. We had no idea how many of these situations would exist. Convention attendance had fallen, leaving NAMB with millions in hotel shortfalls. The easy way out would have been to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We could see the headlines, “NAMB Declares Bankruptcy” and decided that would not only damage our industry, it may damage the country. NAMB is the symbol that people watch to see if the mortgage profession is alive and viable. A NAMB bankruptcy would have sent ripples throughout the housing industry. We simply couldn’t do that. The only other choice was to reinvent NAMB.
NAMB was operating like every other trade association in Washington, D.C. It had its executive director and his support staff with a posh McLean, Va. address. D.C. area wages are among the highest in the nation making that a very expensive way of doing business. NAMB had pared its D.C. staff, but they were still too expensive for NAMB to survive. The single most important service NAMB provides its members is access to the federal government and that can only be done in Washington, D.C. NAMB’s Executive Vice President Roy DeLoach was acting as NAMB’s chief lobbyist, but his salary was far more than NAMB could continue to pay. It was clear this reinventing had to be radical and there was a very real risk it couldn’t be done.
It was decided that NAMB needed seven core services, lobbying, membership, certification, public relations, Internet services, meetings and accounting. The board sent out proposals in all of these areas to see what could be obtained on a contract basis. When the responses came back, the board took the bold step of replacing all salaried staff with independent contractors. Roy DeLoach was retained as NAMB’s contract lobbyist without the responsibility of executive duties at a huge cost saving. Harry Dinham, who had managed NAMB’s state affiliate in Texas for many years, took over membership and certification. Public relations was turned over to NMP Media Corp., publishers of National Mortgage Professional Magazine, and Internet services were also handled by NMP Media also with several other contractors. Meetings were contracted to several different vendors, and a highly experienced CPA firm took over NAMB’s accounting.
NAMB’s office moved to Texas where costs are much more reasonable, while Roy DeLoach keeps a virtual office in Washington, D.C. The real question was, “Would it work?” The answer surprised us. It not only worked, it has worked as well or better than having a staff. One needs to look no further than NAMB’s recent successes on Capitol Hill to have confirmation. Freed from his desk duties, Mr. DeLoach has been able to keep NAMB front and center with government entities. We regularly meet with members of Congress, the director of the CFPB, the FHA Commissioner, leadership at the VA, the Appraisal Foundation and the list goes continues. NAMB had five members on the CFPB small business panel and was instrumental in convincing the CFPB that the flat-fee idea was bad for industry and consumers. The new CFPB proposed rule allows brokers to participate in borrower-paid transactions. FHA pulled back it collections rule and still is accepting six percent seller contributions and just eased its condo rules. All of these were suggestions made by NAMB. NAMB has preserved lender-paid transactions despite the political jargon that said yield-spread premiums (YSPs) were banned. Wow! Those are impressive accomplishments!
As a committee chair, I was always frustrated that I could never tell if someone on my committee was a member or current on their dues. NAMB membership is now fully computerized online, and membership rosters are current. When your membership is about to expire, you are given several reminders to avoid any lapses. Harry Dinham also handles certification. We are pleased that most originators are renewing their certification and new people are choosing to obtain the only national certification for originators. NAMB is also an approved education provider for the SAFE Act eight-hour course.
On the public relations front, NAMB has a great magazine that is shared with two smaller trade associations, National Mortgage Professional Magazine. NAMB leaders and other highly knowledgeable experts provide many informative articles for the publication. On the electronic front, you regularly see John Hudson, NAMB’s Government Affairs Committee chair, on YouTube and in other videos. NAMB is also holding Webinars featuring CFPB director Richard Cordray and top law firms.
NAMB’s Web site is far better than it ever has been. The site is more interactive and easier to navigate. Originators can sign up for membership or renew quickly with a credit card. It contains tons of information and links. NAMB continues to make improvements to the site every week. News from NAMB will keep members up to date on your e-mail on a weekly basis.
NAMB is the only mortgage originator trade association that holds major national meetings. NAMB’s Legislative Conference has become a standard by which other legislative conferences are measured. Originators get to hear the top names in the legislative and regulatory arena, and speak to them personally. Originators join others from their states in a coordinated march on Capitol Hill offices. Every year, hundreds of originators speak with their elected Congressional officials under NAMB coordination and have excellent results. Finally, NAMB’s finances are in order. Previously, we had a staff member who was studying accounting. Now, we have a CPA firm with non-profit experience providing NAMB’s accounting. NAMB is current on all of its monthly obligations. State chapters are paid their shares before the tenth of every month like clockwork. NAMB’s finances have never been more tightly run. We have the resources to meet our obligations.
The good news is that reinventing NAMB has worked. It has actually made for a more efficient and effective trade association. It is a model of the 21st Century trade association. NAMB is here to stay. Your association is sound and ready to meet the challenges facing our industry.
What is NAMB missing? It may be “you.” Sadly, more mortgage originators choose not to support their industry than those who do. Then, they wonder why members of Congress pass laws that harm originators. Politicians look at numbers and money. First, join NAMB. It is one of the most reasonably-priced trade association memberships. We should have thousands of originators marching on Capitol Hill, not just hundreds. Set aside a day this year to ensure you will continue to able to make a living and attend NAMB’s Legislative Conference. It’s not too late to contribute to NAMBPAC. When you join NAMB, we can keep you up to date on the issues that matter.
We reinvented NAMB to help you. We offer all of the services for which NAMB has come to be known. We made membership cost less than it ever has been. It has never been easier and more important for you to become a part of the NAMB family. Do it now at NAMB.org. Better yet, if you are a member, get someone else in your company or a friend to join.
John Councilman, CMC, CRMS is vice president/chair of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Committee for NAMB―The Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (410) 557-6400 or by e-mail at [email protected]