Keith Delatte is president of Lafayette, La.-based InterTrust Mortgage LLC and president-elect of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Keith regarding his work with his state’s trade group.
How and why did you get involved in the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA)? Can you share the track within the association that led to your leadership role?
If memory serves me correctly, I joined LMLA as a member sometime in 2000 or 2001. In late 2005, I received a phone call from a friend of mine who was serving on the board and she flat out told me that I must become a board member … so I did.
The “Why” I joined is simple. As a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America, it was all about “Service to Others.” So I guess it was my turn to step up and serve others. I served as governor of LMLA from 2006-2008. I stayed on the board and served as recording secretary for 2009 and 2010. I was off the board for a four-year span, and came back as a board member in 2015. I was nominated and accepted the position of president-elect in 2016, which means that in 2017, I will serve as LMLA president.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join your association?
Every mortgage professional should be a member of their state association. Being a member makes the individual much greater than the sum of their parts. Basically, there is strength in numbers and the more members in the association, the greater the voice we have. In Louisiana, it’s sad to say, but many mortgage professionals are not members. To the mortgage professionals out there who are not members, I ask you to get off the sidelines and get into the game … we need your help.
What role does LMLA play in the state legislative and regulatory environment?
Our association has a Legislative Chair member who is responsible for communicating new rules and regulations being introduced that will impact our industry. Our association reaches out to our membership. We gather thoughts, ideas and concerns on these issues, and then pass our comments to NAMB.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with LMLA?
Two things come to mind. First, before Dodd-Frank and the CFPB came into existence, our association met quite often with Commissioner John Ducrest with the Office of Financial Institutions. Our association gave valuable insight and input into proposed rules and regulations affecting our industry. That has now shifted as the CFPB is ultimately in charge, but our long-term and valued relationship with OFI Commissioner Ducrest remains.
Second, the value of LMLA’s Annual Education Conference & Trade Show. Attendees receive eight hours of outstanding education from David Luna of Mortgage Educators and Compliance. The Trade Show typically has 25-plus industry participants introducing the latest and greatest products to the conference attendees. And did I mention the Conference is held in New Orleans? Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler … Let The Good Times Roll!
As Louisiana’s state affiliate for NAMB, what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
As a state affiliate of NAMB, we lend our support and voice to the collective whole. Simply stated: Strength in numbers. NAMB represents our industry in so many ways: Education, working with the CFPB, and even testifying before Congress. A quick check indicates the National Association of Realtors has over one million members. If we could get to that size, we would have one powerful voice.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into careers in the mortgage profession?
I live in Lafayette, La. and I’ve seen a good increase in younger people choosing a mortgage career. The key to keeping them in our industry is training, education and time.
What is the state of the housing market in Louisiana?
Louisiana is fairly diverse, but we are more of an oil and gas state than anything else. The state’s housing market has increased steadily over the last several years, until the price of oil tumbled to $27 per barrel in early 2016. As a result, certain areas in the state have idled back a bit. But, overall, our housing market is still strong.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.
CoesterVMS, a national appraisal management company (AMC), has donated 144 cases of water to help the victims of the flooding in Louisiana.
“There are so many people in need after the devastation that affected so many people in the Gulf region,” said Brian Coester, chief executive officer of CoesterVMS. “Water, although sometimes disastrous, is also essential. That is part of the reason we wanted to provide people with this basic need.”
The water donation will be given to the Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge, La. which distributed the water to locals in need.
As President Obama tours the flood ravaged sections of Louisiana, the SmarterSafer.org coalition of housing, environmental and consumer advocacy groups issued a public statement for the White House and Congress to strengthen proactive federal mitigation strategies relating to weather catastrophes.
“Instead of simply focusing on recovery after a major weather event, Congress should pursue measures that encourage resiliency such as updating building codes, maintaining and rebuilding natural barriers, elevating homes, pursuing potential buyouts, and ensuring that as areas are rebuilt they can withstand major flooding in the future,” the statement said. “Congress should also support the Administration’s proposed Flood Risk Management Standard, which requires that federally owned or funded buildings and infrastructure are more resilient to severe storms. Additionally, more than 60,000 homes have been damaged, and those without flood insurance may face an uphill battle to rebuild. It is important that Congress pursue reforms to ensure that homeowners in flood prone areas understand their risk and are encouraged to purchase insurance either through the private sector or the National Flood Insurance Program—while also ensuring that FEMA undertake better mapping and risk analysis.”
SmarterSafer.org also called on the Senate to pass the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (HR 2901), which unanimously passed the House of Representatives last spring. This bill, which is designed to enable property owners to purchase flood insurance coverage through the private sector, has yet to be considered in the Senate.
“Thirteen lives were tragically lost in this flood—which experts say could take years for the state to fully recover from,” SmarterSafer.org added. “President Obama and Congress owe it to the American people to act swiftly and ensure that communities are better prepared before a similar storm strikes.”
Separately, new efforts are underway to provide flood-displaced Louisiana residences with rental housing. The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that the Louisiana Housing Corporation has set up a Web site—LAHousingSearch.org—for people who are looking for temporary rental housing and landlords with rental properties to accommodate those left homeless by the floods. And the Daily Advertiser reports that the Airbnb service is waiving its fees through Sept. 4 for listing rental spaces in South Louisiana. A separate Airbnb site has been set up specifically for this region.
“In the event of emergencies like this one, our disaster response tool connects local residents who have been displaced and are in need of urgent accommodations with Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge,” Nick Shapiro, Airbnb director of public relations and communications.
With tens of thousands of homes sustaining damage from flooding in Louisiana, mortgage insurer United Guaranty has initiated a disaster policy and will work with mortgage lenders and servicers to provide flexibility for borrowers in the declared disaster area who are experiencing severe property damage and interrupted employment.
Forbearance measures to prevent foreclosure actions on those coping with storm damage should follow the procedures on dealing with homeowners affected by disasters, natural or otherwise, found in the guidelines established by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
"As homeowners in the declared disaster area begin to recover from the damage caused by this historic flooding, this forbearance measure provides flexibility in serving those families,” said Brian Gould, chief operating officer for United Guaranty. “Servicers will not need prior approval from United Guaranty for workout terms on individual cases under these guidelines. We hope this action provides some support and relief to the many families who are dealing with this severe flood.”
The havoc created by Louisiana’s recent flooding is going to exacerbate a problem that has plagued the Baton Rouge metro area long that persisted long before the catastrophic weather: An acute lack of housing inventory.
According to a Baton Rogue Advocate report, there were 3,382 homes on the market in the flood impacted metro areas, according to data from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ (GBAR) Multiple Listing Service. Last month’s home sale level was 15 percent below the July 2015 figure, and it represents an inventory supply of 3.9 months, based on current sales activity.
“Inventory is already low—now you’re going to have all these people trying to find a house,” said Ginger Maulden, president-elect of the GBRAR, who noted some people may remove their homes from the market either because they were damaged in the floods or to accommodate displaced friends and family. “We already had a situation in our market when people were getting multiple offers for their houses. It’s going to be crazy.”
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce reported last week that more than 110,000 residences, or nearly one-third of the homes in metro Baton Rouge, were identified as being flooded areas waters. Livingston Parish was particularly hard hit, with different reports estimating that between 75 and 87 percent of homes were damaged by the flood waters.
In areas that were not affected by the floods, there has also been a rush of people raising prices on their homes or trying to void contracts on homes in order to secure higher prices.
“People are going to think twice about purchasing a home in a flood zone,” Maulden said. “There will not be the same attitude.”
The torrential flooding that has submerged portions of Louisiana has impacted 110,000 homes worth a combined value of $20.7 million.
According to a Washington Post report citing data from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce, approximately 280,000 people live in the sections of the state that received the record-level flooding. In addition, more than 7,000 businesses—approximately one in every five businesses in the region, employing more than 73,000 people—were also in the flooded areas.
The figures underscore two of the biggest challenges that families as well as local, state and federal officials face as they work to recover from the unprecedented flooding: How to house those left suddenly homeless, and how to pay for the recovery.
Earlier this week, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offered mortgage assistance services to homeowners in the areas affected by flooding. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would speed federal disaster assistance to Louisiana and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters. President Obama, who received criticism for remaining on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard this week instead of visiting the region, announced today that he would go to Louisiana on Tuesday—but only after Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, toured the flood-devastated region today and met with residents who were left homeless by the destructive weather.
The Louisiana Association of Realtors 2016 Fall Conference will be held Monday-Thursday, Sept. 19-22 at the Horseshoe Hotel & Casino in Bossier City, La.
Pre-conference activities include a community outreach project with the Boys and Girls Club followed by a Welcome Reception hosted by the Northwest LA Assn Young Professionals Network (YPN). On Tuesday morning, there will be a Real Estate Data & Technology Forum. That afternoon will feature a U.S. Senate candidate forum and the opportunity to network with vendors and affiliates while enjoying food, drinks and entertainment. Wednesday ramps up with an energetic keynote from well known real estate instructor, Terry Watson, with continuing education opportunities for both residential and commercial agents throughout the day. That evening, conference attendees are invited join the state’s leadership in the installation of Frank Trapani from New Orleans as the 2017 Louisiana Realtors President. The conference concludes on Thursday morning with a Board of Directors meeting and an address from the National Association of Realtors President-Elect Bill Brown.
David Talbert is managing partner of U.S. Capital Group in Baton Rouge, La., and president of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with him about his work in this trade group and his views on the industry.
How and why did you get involved with the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA)? Can you share the track within LMLA that led to your current leadership role?
My motivation to accept an invitation to join the LMLA Board came after watching the changes to our industry during the post-foreclosure crisis. I was in awe of how some of our members devoted large amounts of personal time fighting on our behalf in Washington, D.C. and here at home, while still managing their daily business responsibilities. Once I was sworn in, I volunteered myself for anything needed and served as treasurer, then vice president, and this year, as president of LMLA.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession should join LMLA?
As a rule of thumb, every mortgage professional should join our national association and their prospective state organizations. It’s very apparent that we do not have a collective voice as evidenced by the low participation in the organizations that are meant to protect our livelihoods.
While I don’t believe that each mortgage professional is obligated to dedicate time, I do believe that we need to show that we are fiercely protective of our own livelihoods, rather than depending on everyone else to show it on our behalf. It boils down to the fact that politicians aren’t going to listen to the shouts of the dedicated few if those shouts are not reinforced by the collective cry of the many.
While I agree with many of the regulatory changes since Dodd-Frank, I feel most were devised and implemented without the appropriate input and approval of professionals in our industry whose knowledge on how to balance consumer protection and freedom of choice is insurmountable to the government’s cause. Keep in mind, this is my keyhole view of what happened and is currently happening. What I am certain of is that my colleagues here in Louisiana that are still prospering are some of the most ethical and community-oriented professionals I’ve come across in any industry.
What role does LMLA play in the state legislative and regulatory environment, and is there any item on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Currently, there aren’t any agenda items of concern for us in our state legislature. Louisiana’s Office of Financial Institutions does reach out to our organization for opinions and feedback but, from what I understand, this has decreased since the creation of the NMLS.
As a state affiliate for NAMB, what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
I feel our annual mortgage conference is, by far, what we contribute the most towards overall agenda for mortgage professionals. This year will mark our fifth conference since Hurricane Katrina. We host it in August of each year in New Orleans, and our state participation is huge. We get our continuing education from a legend in the mortgage community, Dave Luna, and it’s a ton of fun to recap with our co-workers and competitors on the previous year, while learning how we can do better.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Our state’s housing market is booming and never faced the decline that many other states had faced. I don’t find we have an issue drafting new blood to our industry. I think knowledge is the key to everything, whether it is RESPA, state regulations, long-term financial planning, and being able to track fixed-income assets to accurately gauge what is going to be the opportune time to lock in for the client.
Long story short … as seasoned professionals in this business, it’s important for us to teach the new blood the “why” of this business, and also “why” they are doing it in the first place so they can confidently carry that torch. The consolidation of banks and of larger companies creates master marketers, not mortgage professionals. I’d like to see more shops controlled by local individuals who live and work within the community that they lend in. This is what we have here in Baton Rouge, La. and a huge reason why I love my job.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.