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Rocke Andrews is no stranger to readers of National Mortgage Professional Magazine or to the industry as a whole. As broker/owner at Tucson, Ariz.-based Lending Arizona LLC, he is one of the most prominent figures in the Grand Canyon State. And after a number of years in high-profile positions within NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals, he will become the organization’s president in Las Vegas at the association’s NAMB National conference.
We spoke with Andrews about NAMB, his work, the industry and its relationship with the federal government.
How did you get into the mortgage profession? Was this something you always wanted to pursue?
Rocke Andrews: I graduated as a civil engineer, and really didn’t enjoy that. In 1987, I decided to get a real estate license–I saw greater flexibility and income potential in that field and it enabled me to be my own boss.
That was back during the start of savings and loan crisis. Did that impact you?
Not on my business, in particular. There was just the general effect on the economy.
So, all of these years later, are you still satisfied with your career switch?
I find that being a mortgage broker is the best way to get mortgages to people. The professional died out a little bit with the economic crisis. But today, service is probably better for getting mortgages to people.
How did you first get involved with NAMB?
I was working at Nova Financial in the early 1990s when a wholesale rep for Countrywide took members of our office to the Arizona brokers association’s luncheon. The people there were friendlier and more willing to share ideas than at the mortgage bankers’ organization. I attended my first NAMB convention in 1996.
When did you become further involved in NAMB?
I served on the Education Committee in 2009, and I was elected to the board of directors in 2012.
Did you become involved with your state association as well?
I was president of NAMB’s state affiliate in Arizona in 2001, but my initial goal was to be part of the national organization.
In the past few years, NAMB has become an increasingly prominent force in Washington, D.C. As incoming NAMB president, how do you plan to keep that momentum going?
One priority I have is to increase NAMB’s membership … the more members we have, the better position we can have at the table in Washington, D.C.
Where is NAMB today in terms of membership numbers?
We currently have about 3,800 members, and I would like to grow that number to 5,000.
But even as a relatively moderately-sized organization, NAMB still commands a lot of respect in Washington, correct?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Reserve respect our position on issues because our members are small business owners whose number one goal is to strengthen homeownership in the United States.
Is it true that you have already been something of a ubiquitous figure in Washington, D.C. already on behalf of NAMB?
I’ve made approximately 16 or 17 trips to D.C. A typical trip depends on what’s going on. I’ve met with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and specific legislators. On separate occasions, I’ve met with the Fed and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFFB).
We hear so much about the power of Political Action Committees (PACs) and their impact on shaping federal policy. Just how important are PAC contributions in getting your voice heard in Washington?
Unfortunately, they are a major factor. It gets you entry into offices. This is something we want to pursue—it ensures we can get in and get appointments.
But NAMB isn’t throwing money at PACs like handfuls of New Year’s Eve confetti?
Only if they ask for it. And if w Let’s switch gears for a minute to consider a few issues that impact the industry. There has been a lot of talk about getting more young people interested in mortgage careers. What is your view on this? e donate to them, it is strictly to pursue our legislative goals. We will be looking strictly at [PACs connected to] members of the Financial Services Committees.
Let’s switch gears for a minute to consider a few issues that impact the industry. There has been a lot of talk about getting more young people interested in mortgage careers. What is your view on this?
Actually, here in Arizona, where we have quite a few young loan officers, due primarily to family relationships. They tend to start as assistants and work their way up. I see it as issue, not as a major concern.
What about the state of third-party origination?
One of my priorities as NAMB president is to let people know it is a safe channel. People need to know that NAMB is here to help them with compliance concerns–especially when the CFPB may be coming after them.
The national homeownership is at its lowest level … one that has not been seen since 1966. Should we be worried?
People take pride in homeownership, but not everyone is made out to be a homeowner. Before 2008, we got a little bit ahead of ourselves trying to get everyone into homeownership.
But many potential homeowners either cannot or will not consider buying a home.
There is a large percentage of people eligible for home loans who don’t think that they are. We need to educate them on the possibility of financing. In many places, it is cheaper to own than rent. And this not just a long-term investment, but it is also better for their budget.
While first-time homebuyers are facing obstacles, either real or perceived, there is a great deal more activity pursuing wealthy homeowners on the jumbo mortgage side. There is less competition because you are not competing with giant government agencies.
We know that NAMB helps many professionals with this business. Has it helped your new business operations?
It has not necessarily resulted in new business, but in some business–referrals from members in other states, and learning about new products and new lines of business.
Will we be seeing more of you around the country in your new role as NAMB president?
I can see my travel increasing a little bit. But all of the NAMB officers put in lot of time to do this work. I don’t think the president has greater time demands than others on the board. You spend about 40 to 50 percent of the week working on NAMB. We’re constantly working on stuff.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.