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Tom Shaner never worked in the mortgage industry prior to his becoming executive director of the Maryland Association of Mortgage Professionals (MAMP) in 1997. Instead, Shaner was (and remains) president and chief account executive at Joseph E. Shaner Company, an association management firm headquartered in Baltimore. But while Shaner never processed a loan before taking the reins at MAMP, he used his leadership skills to revitalize an ailing organization and restore its vibrancy and relevancy.
National Mortgage Professional recently spoke with Shaner about his experiences and work with MAMP.
How did you first become involved with MAMP?
Tom Shaner: Back in the 1990s, a couple of volunteers at the association realized it needed to have a professional management firm running it, and they asked us for a proposal. We were accepted and began to work with and develop the association.
What are the advantages that Maryland-based mortgage professionals gain by joining MAMP?
Shaner: This is always one of the hardest things, especially in the world of the mortgage professional. Many mortgage professionals look at this and say, “We can do it without you. We see the costs … what are the benefits?”
Can we, as an association, say, “We’re directly getting money into your pocket?” Can we say, “We help keep money in your pockets?” Yes, we can. We provide education for professionals and offer networking opportunities to bring together vendors. We are always looking to provide benefits.
One thing we do consistently well is with our legislative voice. An association has to be that voice for politicians to hear. To go without a voice being heard can lead to disaster. Unfortunately, that message is not resonating with many individuals. I realize that it is a high hurdle to get many small mortgage professionals to contribute money for legislative purposes. But it could have been worse if there wasn’t some voice there. We have to make sure our voice being heard at the statewide government level.
How is MAMP’s relationship with the state government? What are the main legislative issues on your plate today?
Shaner: We have an extremely good relationship with our two legislative committees, and we work so that everyone understands exactly what we’re trying to say. This is a benefit to mortgage professionals because our legislation is property-tweaked so as not to have negative consequences.
We’ve been fortunate because it has quieted down here in Maryland in terms of legislative activity. In Maryland, there is the 24 months rule, which does not allow brokers and loan officers to make a commission on some customers if they did a refi within 24 months. But the broker next door can make full commission if do he or she does the refi. We are constantly trying to find solutions to that.
Since you have taken charge at MAMP, what have been your main accomplishments?
Shaner: Of course, our legislative outreach–we are a very well-respected organization in Annapolis. Another major accomplishment was developing our convention. When the market crashed, so did our conventions. I would have the opportunity to host 200 10x10 exhibitor booths, but 100 of those firms were likely offering sub-prime products that do not exist anymore. So, instead of the 200 booths, I had in 2009, the next year I couldn’t even get 20. Now, we’re slowly bringing the number of exhibitors back up. The trick now is to get brokers and loan officers to participate in the association as members and come to our events.
What do you see as the greatest challenge encouraging more people to join MAMP?
Shaner: We find the number one objective is time. It is not so much money–our membership is extremely affordable. It’s time. They just cannot seem to get out of the office and schedule that in advance.
As Maryland’s state affiliate of NAMB, what benefits do members of MAMP gain from being part of the national association?
Shaner: That’s a tough one. When NAMB made the decision several years ago that it would no longer require members of state associations to be a NAMB member, our membership fell off the books. Yet, we promote the option to be in NAMB to our members. We still think it is an excellent organization and we encourage membership and participation, but we are not as active as we used to be.
How would you categorize the state of the Maryland housing market today?
Shaner: It is returning to normalcy. It is steady and we’re seeing lots of new sales. It is a strong market today, but I cannot say what it will be tomorrow.