How and why did you get involved in the Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers Association? Can you share the track that led to your leadership role in the group?
“If you’re working in the mortgage industry in Rhode Island, it’s because RIMBA has been working for you.” That phrase is exactly what led me to getting involved in RIMBA. I began as a Board member 10 years ago (frankly, I should have committed much earlier in my career) and served as the organization’s Vice President before being named President in 2016.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join RIMBA?
Three different reasons … First, to advocate for industry-related affairs and issues, particularly on the legislative side. This is hugely important to all of us. Second, to network with industry peers and colleagues. And third, to become informed and educated in the pursuit of excellence in their career. There are other reasons, but these are the big three.
What role does RIMBA play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We have a dedicated Legislative Committee focused on proposed bills being sponsored and discussed in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Our state is quite political and we have an inordinate amount of legislative activity for a state of our size. The RIMBA team stays on top of it all. Our legislative season just wrapped up and the largest issues we faced were all centered around workplace-related legislation, equity pay, paid time off, things like that.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
Building brand awareness, improving advocacy and relevance for our organization. RIMBA’s membership growth, educational sessions, communication protocol, committee depth and industry engagement has improved by 30 percent over the last 18 months. We have made great strides.
What is synergy between RIMBA and the national MBA?
Principally, it’s a legislative connection. We participate annually in the MBA Legislative Day in D.C. and stay in constant contact with the national MBA on all matters facing our industry. We also have a nice balance of educational content that MBA plays a big part in.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
That is the big question, isn’t it? We can’t all be my age in this game! Candidly, we need to be willing to invest in young people. That means hiring, training and developing the next generation of mortgage professionals realizing that the payoff in doing so is tomorrow, not today. This is both a leap of faith and a challenge with today’s narrow operating margins.
How would you define your state's housing market?
Typical of the nation’s housing market at this point … plenty of buyers, but not enough sellers.
Attendees learned how to leverage Embrace's MBS Highway sales tool to increase production and how to leverage new loan programs, such as HomeReady for low- and moderate-income buyers.
Scott Koondel of Mortgage News Network stops by the Residential Home Funding booth for a chat with Anthony Pepe
Brad Smith, Managing Director of Renovation Sales with Home Point Financial, details the ins and outs of renovation lending during his Breakout Session
Reps from REMN Wholesale on the Exhibit Hall floor of Mohegan Sun
The crew from United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) were on hand at the New England Mortgage Expo to detail their company's product offerings
Bethany Johnsen has joined Mortgage Network Inc. as a loan officer in the company’s Providence, R.I. office where she will be responsible for serving homebuyers and homeowners throughout the state. Johnsen brings 15 years of industry experience in the Rhode Island area to Mortgage Network, including an extensive background in real estate sales. A Rhode Island native, Johnsen joined Mortgage Network from Simsbury Bank in Warwick, R.I., where she was a mortgage loan originator. Prior, she spent 12 years as a Realtor in Rhode Island before transitioning to mortgage lending with Bank of America. Johnsen earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Rhode Island College.
“Bethany brings an impressive professional background to Mortgage Network’s Providence office,” said Jesse Kenner, manager of Mortgage Network’s Providence branch. “Few loan originators have her extensive direct experience in real estate sales, giving her valuable perspective in working with real estate professionals and homebuyers in the area. She is uniquely positioned to add tremendous value to each transaction, creating the excellent customer experiences that Mortgage Network is renowned for.”
Johnsen noted that New England home sales are promising for 2016, particularly in Rhode Island.
“Single-family home sales were up nearly 10 percent by the end of 2015, and based on industry research we expect first-time buyers to play an especially important role in the market,” said Johnsen. “I am looking forward to using all of my real estate and financial experience to help borrowers realize their homeownership dreams and to providing the industry’s best service to the real estate community. I am thrilled to be part of Mortgage Network’s team of experts in my home state of Rhode Island.”
A large number of homeowners and renters living in the Ocean State are drowning under the costs related to their housing, according to the 2015 Housing Fact Book released by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University (HWRI).
Using the metric that defines housing cost burden as spending more than 30 percent of one’s income on residential needs, the new HWRI report determined that half of all Rhode Island renter households and about one-third of mortgaged homeowner households are burdened by housing costs. And being mortgage-free is no protection from this dilemma, as the report added one in five homeowners that no longer have to repay a home loan spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.
The situation has become worse over the years. HWRI found there was a 33 percent increase among mortgaged Rhode Island homeowner households considered cost burdened between 2000 and 2013. During the same 13-year period, cost burden levels rose 40 percent increase for homeowner households without a mortgage and 38 percent in renter households.
“Our analysis of additional indicators found that the state’s low vacancy rate, low rates of new housing authorized by building permits, and high costs of construction have resulted in housing costs that are high relative to incomes in Rhode Island,” said Nicole Lagace, director of HWRI. “For the past decade, these housing costs have outpaced the incomes for Rhode Islanders at all income levels ... These housing cost burdens decrease the purchasing power of many Rhode Islanders and hold back the state’s economy. Policymakers need to advance housing affordability as a public policy priority and invest in housing as an economic driver for Rhode Island.”