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This month, we had a chance to chat with Jim Pair, president of Mortgage Associates Corpus Christi (MACC) and immediate past president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB).
Pair began his career in mortgage banking in 1961 as a loan originator after a stint in the U.S. military. He served as a senior officer of a mortgage banker, and five years as the president of two savings and loan associations in Texas in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1992, Jim founded MACC, serving as president, focusing primarily on the origination of conventional single-family loans. In 1994, MAAC was approved to originate Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and in 2001, was approved to originate Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. MAAC continues to be a top mortgage shop in the Corpus Christi area, having been honored four times with the “Best of the Best Award for Mortgage Lending in Corpus Christi,” as bestowed by the readers of the Corpus Christi Caller Times.
Jim became involved with mortgage trade associations in 1992. Taking the advice from friends in Houston who were members of the Texas Association of Mortgage Brokers (TAMB), now the Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals (TAMP), he approached the Texas affiliate of NAMB about forming a chapter in Corpus Christi. They agreed and Jim launched TAMP’s Corpus Christi Chapter, serving as the chapter’s first-ever president and as a member of the TAMP statewide board of directors.
As he became more active on the state level with TAMP, Jim became involved with the legislative affairs of the association and the Texas State House in Austin, educating senators and representatives on the role of the mortgage broker in the housing finance industry. His involvement with TAMP eventually led to the seat of TAMP statewide president in 2000-2001.
He eventually became involved nationally with NAMB, serving as chair of both the Membership Committee and the Education Committee. He soon after joined the NAMB board of directors and just wrapped up his term as NAMB president in June. He will continue to serve on the NAMB board of directors in the role of immediate past president, and serving as chairman of the NAMB Nominating Committee and co-chair of the Industry Partners Committee over the next year.
How did you first get involved in the mortgage industry?
While attending college, I worked part-time for a mortgage banker. After completing my degree and my military obligation, I went to work full-time for a mortgage banker in Houston, Texas. Since that time, I have been involved with mortgage bankers, savings and loan associations, real estate development firms, and currently, as a mortgage broker.
How did you first get involved with mortgage industry trade associations and how did you help grow membership of your Texas state affiliate of NAMB?
I became heavily involved when licensing had been approved for mortgage brokers in the state of Texas. The regulatory agency that would oversee the broker industry, the Texas Savings & Loan Department, was approved in the law licensing brokers, and was subject to review by the legislators for sunset. During my term as president of the Texas Association of Mortgage Brokers, now known as the Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals, we had to fight to retain the Department as our regulatory agency. We were still in the process of rule-making with the agency and clarifying wording in the bill. All of this was accomplished during my term as president of TAMB/TAMP. In addition, we saw a great spike in membership due to the passage of the licensing law.
When did you begin to become more active on the national level with NAMB?
As president of TAMB/TAMP, I served as a delegate to the NAMB Delegate Council for two years. Before serving as a delegate, I was aware of NAMB, but did not fully understand its purpose. My experience as a delegate led me to become more involved on the national level. I could see all the good NAMB was providing its members, and I wanted to give back to the industry. I volunteered to serve on a number of committees for NAMB after my term as president of TAMP. Working on these committees led me eventually taking on the role of chairman of NAMB’s Membership, Education and Communication Committees.
You served NAMB as president last year. What goals did you set when you took the office of NAMB president and do you feel you accomplished these goals set at the outset of your term?
My goals as NAMB president were to build unity with our members and our state affiliates, protect our industry in Washington, D.C. and keep our association alive during the economic downturn we were experiencing. In all instances, we were successful. This could not have been achieved without the leadership and support of our volunteers, the hard work of our members and the dedicated staff at NAMB. They are the ones who stepped up and made this happen, and they are the ones who deserve all the credit. Without their commitment, nothing would have been achieved.
After a whirlwind year as NAMB president, you can now focus again on your business in Texas, Mortgage Associates Corpus Christi.
Mortgage Associates Corpus Christi was started in July of 1992 to provide permanent loans to customers of several builders who were building custom homes. At that time, it was very difficult for a builder to obtain constructing financing on a custom home without a firm commitment letter from a lender. We were able to provide that service to the builders and we grew from there.
Based on the quality of service we were providing to the consumer, we were able to expand into the Realtor market. Over the years, our referral based experienced tremendous growth, to the extent that referrals contribute to the majority of our originations.
How did you manage your duties of serving as president of a nationwide trade association such as NAMB, over the last year while keeping MACC’s operations running smoothly?
I am very fortunate to have a great partner in Jo-Anne Lamorey at MACC. We started together in 1992, and have always complemented each other’s strengths and weakness. Jo-Anne is a strong producer. This allowed me to concentrate on my duties with NAMB at the national level and the day-to-day operations of the company without the responsibility of production. Without her, I could not have served as president. We are a small shop and someone had to keep the loans coming in and she did that for me.
How has your local market in Corpus Christi, Texas reacted to the housing crisis?
Corpus Christi is a unique market, in that historically, we have not experienced great fluctuations in growth from year to year. It is a slow but steady market. This has helped us in the downturn the nation has experienced over the last few years. We still have a good purchase market based on the state of the economy of the rest of the nation. We have not experienced the dramatic loss in property values that many regions of the country have experienced. One good thing I can say about the market in Corpus Christi is that when the rest of the country is down, our market is not down nearly as much, and when the rest of the country is up, our market is not up nearly as much. It is what I would call a “ho-hum market.”
What do you do to generate business with MACC?
Our business model is based on referrals. This model has allowed our company to experience a steady stream of business and modest growth from year to year. The quality of service provided to the consumer is key.
What methods do you feel need to be put in place to police the industry? Is the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) and greater enforcement of the laws currently on the books enough, or do you feel new regulation is necessary?
We certainly do not need any new laws and regulation. Congress has already overreacted with the new laws that have been enacted just this past year alone. This is true with the agencies that oversee our industry. The market place has corrected itself without the help of Congress and the agencies.
The NMLS has provided a platform that standardizes the licensing of mortgage professionals across the nation. That was indeed a necessity since many states had very lax licensing requirements if any at all. Enforcement is the key to any laws or rules. If there had been strong enforcement of the laws and regulations that were already on the books prior to the current mortgage meltdown, the problem would not have been nearly as severe as it was.
Enforcement is the key to the future of our industry, and I am afraid that Congress and the agencies are not paying that much attention to future enforcement.
What advice do you have for mortgage professionals in order to strengthen their viability in today’s marketplace?
We must go back to the basics that all mortgage brokers started with … innovation and being creative. It seems the longer we are in business, we lose sight of the necessity of being innovative and creative. We should seek to build customers for a lifetime, not just for one transaction. These basics will always allow mortgage professionals to compete in today’s market.
What do you feel the future holds for the mortgage broker profession?
There will always be a future for a professional mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers provide a service to the consumer that no other channel of distribution provides. We offer choice for the consumer and are willing to work with the consumer to achieve their dream of homeownership for however long it takes. We are always available to our customers, unlike other channels. These are qualities that other channels do not provide.
Of equal importance is that members of NAMB have pledged to follow a strict Code of Ethics and abide by a code of strong Better Business Practices. The NAMB Lending Integrity Seal of Approval is a powerful symbol of our professionalism as mortgage brokers in today’s marketplace.