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Irene Amato is president of A.S.A.P. Mortgage Corporation in Cortland Manor, N.Y., and president-elect of the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers. Nationmal Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Amato about her trade association work and her professional endeavors.
How and why did you get involved with NYAMB? Can you share the track within your association that led to your leadership role?
At the time I started to get involved, which was around 2010 when I became the Lower Hudson Valley Region President, the industry had so much going on. I wanted to be a voice and be able to help companies get some regulations put in place. This gave me the opportunity to lobby. I felt my contributions made a difference in the formulation of a lot of regulations in that period.
I would also always try to drum up momentum for the industry. But that’s me … I’m always trying to change the world.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join your association?
I believe it is very important to be supportive of all the people around you. After all, numbers speak! Our association deals with education, produces industry events, and helps our members to keep up-to-date on legislative topics. Without it, there is no source of professional unity.
And networking is great … it is always nice to get together. But, inevitably, our goal is to help assist consumers in obtaining the American Dream of homeownership–and being a member helps us to help them achieve that dream.
What roles does your association play in the state legislative and regulatory environment? Are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
I can say there is a mind-blowing number of changes that have been made just by making legislators and regulators aware of what is needed. One very important place for making changes involves the CFPB’s open panels, where they ask us to them our thoughts on rules and guidelines. But if you don’t go in during that small time window to put your comments forward in, you lose your opportunity and lose your voice in the process.
On a state level, we go to Albany and we lobby. We usually focus on three to four points that are critical to the industry.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I’ve made dramatic changes in building relations between lenders and mortgage professionals. I have worked to strengthen the momentum for the industry, and in dealing with legislators I tend to get my point across.
I also teach NMLS education courses, and strive to put a different spin on the classroom experience. I am also involved in events planning–and planning the convention is the fun part of it.
Ultimately, you have to be passionate for this type of activity. It is volunteer work, and I am always available for the members. When I send out letters, my cell number is on it so people can reach me at any time.
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?
It offers strength in numbers by showing how many mortgage professionals there are nationwide. And every state having its own association only strengthens the cause.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
That’s one thing I’m really, really pursuing. I recently had three kids right out of college working in my company, and it was a fantastic opportunity for them.
This is a great field for so many young kids: They are using their minds in helping people achieve the American Dream. But it is important to teach them the right way from the beginning. This is not about teaching an old dog new tricks.
How would you define your state's housing market?
We’re growing. We’re back to seeing bidding wars. Do I want that? No. I see market trending upwards in a very smooth transition. I welcome that–I do not want big hikes.
And our company is helping by doing financial seminars. Education is key, and being able to explain what the homebuying process is all about can help the market that it is now growing.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.