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Nathan S. Pierce founded Advanced Funding Mortgage Home Loans in Salt Lake City back in 1994. He is now in his second go-round as the president of the Utah Association of Mortgage Professionals (UAMP)–he previously held that title in 2011. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Nathan about his work in the state trade association and Utah’s housing market.
How and why did you get involved in your association? And can you share the track within your association that led to the presidency?
Nathan S. Pierce: First, I was asked to be involved and as someone that is very passionate about the industry and has been blessed with a long successful career I felt I owed something back. Second, I saw a need to help mortgage professionals become true experts at their craft along with helping them to understand the importance their role is in the legislative process.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join your association?
Pierce: There are many benefits to being a member of UAMP. They begin with the obvious ones, such as monthly luncheons that include training sessions on marketing, legislative updates, preparing for industry changes, etc. We have our Annual Trade Show, one of the largest and most attended in the country and is offered to all professionals at no cost. Then, you have our industry partners that offer discounts to members, including continuing education services, and other networking events.
All of the previously mentioned benefits are great and make up for the cost of membership many times over. However, there are more important reasons for becoming a member of the UAMP. First, being a member shows dedication to our industry and the willingness to subscribe to a higher standard than non-members. Second, there is power in numbers—I often receive complaints from non-members that want regulation change, but are unwilling to participate in the process. I try to explain that they have options: They can stand by and wait for someone else to do it, they can lobby individually with their time and resources, or they can become a member and we can share in the efforts to effect change.
What role do you feel your association plays in the state legislative and regulatory environment, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Pierce: We feel that our number one responsibility as an association is to participate in shaping our own industry, and we can do this by making sure our voices are heard. The most effective way of doing this is reaching out to our legislators and regulators. UAMP participates in both a Utah legislative conference and NAMB’s Legislative & Regulatory Conference in Washington, D.C. Regular communication with both national and local legislators is also part of our routine. UAMP also regularly works with our local regulator, the Division of Real Estate, in the writing of rules. We are the go-to association in Utah.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
Pierce: I cannot attribute any accomplishment of our association to just me. It is a team effort that is shared between the entire board of directors and participating members. Our success are numerous, including continuous increases in membership, an Expo that has seen 50 to 75 percent increases in attendance year over year and close to 100 percent growth in vendors since 2011, or that Utah is among the top few states with members serving in leadership roles within NAMB. These accomplishments can all be attributed to the dedication and hard work by all of us serving.
As the state affiliate for NAMB, what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
Pierce: We could not do what we do without the support of NAMB. NAMB provides valuable resources to our association and is instrumental in our daily operations. Without NAMB, we would not have the recognition with our national delegation of legislators that we do. They make becoming a member of the UAMP more valuable than it would be without them. The success of the UAMP and NAMB are one in the same and to achieve our goals a tight relationship between us is priceless.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Pierce: This has become an increasing concern of mine and something that needs to be addressed throughout the entire country. I believe there are several items that can be done to address this problem. We must begin with restoring confidence and trust in the mortgage professional. Many past mortgage representatives abused this and now we find ourselves facing a reputation that paints us as greedy and abusive to homeowners and future homeowners. Because of this, regulations have become too burdensome and has diminished the excitement homeownership along with the desire to become a mortgage professional.
It is also important that we continuously strive for higher standards in our industry. Not through government regulation, but through our own companies and businesses. This will not be a fast or easy goal, but it can be accomplished.
We have also seen a large part of our industry revert back to business models that do not encourage long-term growth and success. Loan originators in many company models are no more than low-level employees given the task of data collection. It is often said that homeownership will be the largest investment of a person’s life—if this is the case, should it be left to unlicensed and minimally trained data collectors? Efforts need to be made in demonstrating that young people can obtain a career that is exciting, changing, very rewarding, and, if done right, lucrative.
The rewards must outweigh the costs, and the perception is that they do not. We must change that perception and let young people know there are other ways than the model mentioned above.
Also, efforts need to be made for professionals to participate in education at the high school level and maybe, even the junior high and middle school levels. This is not to recruit the future loan officers, but also as a part of financially literacy. This has the obvious effect of developing young minds to be better consumers and investors, but, also allows us to reach out and showcase our skills.
How would you define the housing market in your state?
Pierce: We are fortunate in the Utah to have a housing market that has seen growth over the past little while and is beginning to grow at a much faster pace than it has since the housing collapse. Homes are selling quickly at typically at full asking price, with some areas seeing multiple offers at above asking prices. I believe that we are currently experiencing a healthy housing market with values growing at a pace that encourages participation for those looking for a new home to live in at the same time encouraging some investors.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].