A new data report from Realtor.com analyzed U.S. Census Bureau statistics covers the nation’s 75 largest metro areas to compare the homeownership rates in the first three-quarters of 2014 to the first three-quarters of 2017
A new data report from Realtor.com analyzed U.S. Census Bureau statistics covers the nation’s 75 largest metro areas to compare the homeownership rates in the first three-quarters of 2014 to the first three-quarters of 2017. The result: Milwaukee now holds the title as the city with the greatest increase in homeownership.
Realtor.com found Milwaukee’s homeownership rate is 68.77 percent, up 11 percent from three years ago. The city’s median home price is $224,950, and Milwaukee was praised for its surplus of new residential construction. Bret Mayborne, Director of Economic Research at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, acknowledged that the city did not have “much of any image nationally” for years, but quickly added, “That's changing.”
Rounding out the top five cities with significant homeownership increases were Charlotte, N.C., whose 62.8 percent rate is up 10.5 percent from three years ago; Memphis, whose 61 percent rate is 9.3 percent above its 2014 level; Baltimore, with a 68.4 percent rate that is 7.3 percent above the 2014 level; and Allentown, Pa., with a 74.8 percent rate that is up 7.3 percent from three years ago. 

The announcement by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group of a $10 billion manufacturing campus in southeastern Wisconsin is welcome news to the local housing market
The announcement by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group of a $10 billion manufacturing campus in southeastern Wisconsin is welcome news to the local housing market, according to the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR).
According to a Milwaukee Business Times report, GMAR is forecasting a potential spike in new home construction in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth Counties due to Foxconn’s arrival, which involves initial plans for employing 3,000 people. During the first five months of this year, there were 91 building permits for new single-family houses in Racine County, 66 in Kenosha County and 46 in Walworth County. GMAR is also anticipating an increase in office and retail property construction in connection to this economic development.
“The scale of new growth is probably somewhat similar to what the city of Milwaukee experienced after World War II, when the city saw acre, upon acre of new housing and commercial development radiate out from the city center to the south, west and north,” said Mike Ruzicka, President of GMAR.
However, David Belman, President of Belman Homes and President of the Wisconsin Builders Association, warned that the local municipalities need to consider creating workforce housing or smaller homes at price points workers can afford: On average, it costs $84,671 to build a home in these markets, and Belman noted it was difficult to build a house for less than $300,000—which could be too expensive for new Foxconn workers earning an average of $53,000 per year.
“It is great for our state to have this kind of growth and development and we are going to work to promote this and get homes built in that area,” Belman said. “But it might not just be homes that are getting built, but apartments as well. Regardless, this will be a good thing for Wisconsin for years to come.”
Waterstone Mortgage Corporation has announced the promotion of Ericka Smith to the role of Vice President of Marketing at the company's Pewaukee, Wis.-based corporate office
Pete Salamone, a mortgage industry veteran with more than 20 years serving borrowers, has joined Waterstone Mortgage as a Regional Manager, overseeing the company's growth and recruiting efforts in the Southeastern Wisconsin region.
Salamone began his mortgage banking career in 1994 and has worked for several leading mortgage lenders in Wisconsin. His previous roles include National Director of Business Development for Inlanta Mortgage, where he was responsible for overseeing the company's talent acquisition efforts; and Director of Production and Sales Manager for Paragon Home Lending.
"Considering his experience and successful track record as a mortgage leader, we are excited to have Pete join our team," said Waterstone Mortgage President and CEO Eric Egenhoefer. "Pete's goals and strengths as a leader align strongly with our culture. We expect he will contribute greatly to Waterstone Mortgage's future success."
Salamone said, "Waterstone Mortgage has such a robust selection of mortgage products, an excellent reputation and an amazing team. I'm thrilled to be able to collaborate with such exceptional mortgage professionals and help clients achieve their dreams of homeownership."

GSF Mortgage has named LeMar Welch as branch manager of the company’s new Madison, Wis. office. A native of Gary, Indiana, Welch is a graduate of Concordia University in Milwaukee, and has been in the mortgage business since he was 19-years-old.
Welch has worked in many different aspects of the industry including both retail and wholesale lending, risk management, secondary markets, management of both retail and wholesale and now as a branch manager.
Welch describes his business philosophy as “Client first. Absolutely client first. Goes above profit. Goes above everything.”
“LeMar is a very engaging person that is driven to succeed,” said GSF Mortgage Regional Manager Todd Pennington. “He is a hard worker and will give GSF a great presence in Madison. We are looking for great things from LeMar.”

The Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association presents "FHLMC Home Possible'" presented by Dennis Smith, Afforable Lending Manager, Freddie Mac on Thursday, May 11 at the Delafield Brewhaus, 3832 Hillside Drive in Delafield, Wis. beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Please join us to learn about the Home Possible program from Freddie Mac. Home Possible mortgages offer low downpayments for low- to moderate-income homebuyers or buyers in high-cost or underserved communities. Learn the options available to give your customer the best opportunities for homeownership. Familiarize you with the benefits, key features and requirements for Freddie Mac’s low downpayment mortgage offering: Home Possible.
Click here to register for this event or visit wimba.org.

Michael Kellman is senior vice president of consumer lending at North Shore Bank and president of the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association (WMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with his state’s mortgage trade association.
How did you first get involved with the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association? Can you share the path that led you to your leadership position?
I got involved with WMBA because I was beginning to participate more within our mortgage side of the business. I had been involved in consumer lending at North Shore Bank, and as my management of mortgage lending grew, I gravitated to the WMBA to gain more knowledge and meet people.
I originally contributed as a member of the Single-Family Production Committee and ended up chairing that committee. I had success with that and was then placed on the executive path that led me to secretary, treasurer, vice president and president. My term runs from June 2016 through June of 2017.
Why should mortgage professionals in your state become members of WMBA?
As a member of WMBA, you are a part of the only organization dedicated solely to the mortgage profession. Our goal is to strengthen the mortgage lending industry in Wisconsin through education, networking and political activism amongst all stakeholders. I have learned so much from the people in the organization–there are dozens of people who I can call and get real answers to many questions.
How is your association involved in shaping legislation at both the state and federal levels?
WMBA has a lobbyist employed to assist with legislative issues within the state. One issue we were involved in was the referendum changing the fee payment structure with the DFI for NMLS licensing fees for loan officers in the state of Wisconsin. Historically, the lender had to pay annual dues for NMLS state licensing fees; these annual fees are due and payable Dec. 31.
Full due fees were required to be paid upon licensing and not prorated if the licensing took place in November and December, then due and payable again in full for the Dec. 31 renewal. Employers were hesitant to hire during that period, since they would have to pay full fees for November or December and again a full fee Dec. 31 for the new year. Now, if they register in November and December, they are licensed for a 13-14 month period and not required to pay twice within a few months.
Additionally, WMBA contributed to the passing of Wisconsin Act 376, a new foreclosure bill signed into law. Effectively, the new law reduced the redemption periods involved in foreclosure, and furthermore, it addressed the issue of abandoned properties under Wis.Stat. 846.102
At a federal level, we encourage our membership to take an active role and join the Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA). They are kept abreast of federal legislation that may impact our industry and trade and they have an opportunity to speak directly to their members of Congress and state legislators about the impact of proposed legislations or regulations.
What has been your greatest accomplishment within the association?
I am proud to have played a part in WMBA becoming the clearinghouse for mortgage-related issues and for helping people find ways to solve problems. Many of our meetings are educational. We have several large financial institutions in Wisconsin, but we also have a huge number of smaller, community banks, mortgage banks and brokers that do not have the staff in place to sift through 1,000-page regulations. WMBA gives them the information to do their job legally and correctly.
What is the synergy like between your association and the national MBA?
Members of the WMBA may or may not be members of the national Mortgage Bankers Association. We try to cooperatively align ourselves with the national group because they obviously have a broader reach and more staff to help us stay on top of important issues of the day and solve problems.
In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
We recently completed our second year of the Best in Business Awards at WMBA. One category was the Rising Star, a recognition award for Millennials positively affecting our industry. To allow for Millennials to have a greater say in the direction of our organization, we formed a committee made up of our Rising Stars Award finalists. We are excited to receive and implement their input and observe the outcome of their leadership within our organization.
This is the hardest demographic to attract, yet the industry is perfectly suited to Millennials because it offers flexible schedules, pays very well, and allows them to help people. The industry is also going greener as we are moving to a paperless environment. We recognize that for us to gain and retain Millennials in our industry, it is vital that we get the word out and take into account their interests while enlisting their participation.
What is the housing market like in the state of Wisconsin?
With house prices back to where they were before the Great Recession and the attractive rate environment, our housing market is on the rise. Inventory is still somewhat limited, but we see construction lending now coming into play. Consequently, this is a strong and rising environment.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was recently joined by representatives from Ocwen Financial to highlight the 2016 results of the partnership between the City and Ocwen. Mayor Barrett, Alderman Michael Murphy and Ocwen announced the partnership at the beginning of last year to provide substantial assistance designed to help Milwaukee homeowners who face economic challenges by administering loan modifications as well as low interest loans to help finance critical repairs to homes.
In 2016, more than 260 loans were modified, averaging $225 in monthly payment savings for Ocwen borrowers in Milwaukee. In addition, there was a $6 million total principal reduction at the end of 2016.
“I’m pleased Ocwen continues to share my commitment in doing everything we can to keep Milwaukee homeowners in their homes,” Mayor Barrett said. “Residents who own their homes add value and stability to Milwaukee neighborhoods. By fostering public-private partnerships, we are strengthening neighborhoods and enhancing the quality of life for Milwaukee residents.”
With Ocwen’s $75,000 contribution to the Mayor’s Strong Home Loan Fund, the City is able to make loans to homeowners for essential home improvements. More than $86,000 was given by Ocwen to support Milwaukee non-profits and seven properties were donated.
“Ocwen is pleased to be working closely with the City of Milwaukee and local non-profit organizations who have come together to help stabilize neighborhoods and keep families in their homes,” said Jill Showell, senior vice president of Government and Community Relations. “Ocwen commends Mayor Barrett and Alderman Murphy for their focus on addressing the local challenges and for working constructively with Ocwen to help bring hope and stability to this great city. Through a combination of financial support, property donations and direct outreach to borrowers, Ocwen is helping to make a difference in Milwaukee, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration.”
On Feb. 28, the City received Ocwen’s second financial contribution since the partnership’s inception. With Ocwen’s demonstrated commitment to the City, the second phase of the five-part plan for Milwaukee will continue and include the following elements:
►Ocwen will continue to enhance its efforts to reach struggling borrowers in Milwaukee by offering sustainable mortgage loan modification options. This assistance is helping qualified customers reduce mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure.
►Ocwen made a second $75,000 contribution (providing $225,000 over three years through 2018) to the City of Milwaukee to support the Strong Homes Loan Program.
►Working with community partners and the City, Ocwen will conduct three more face-to-face customer outreach events in 2017 in Milwaukee neighborhoods to meet with and help Ocwen customers struggling with mortgage payments.
►To assist with community revitalization efforts, Ocwen will continue to work with local non-profits to identify properties for donation, renovation and return to owner-occupancy.
►To further enhance its efforts in the city, Ocwen is donating $200,000 over three years to various Milwaukee-based non-profit community groups to help struggling borrowers and to reduce city blight, donating $200,000 over three years Alderman Michael J. Murphy, who has worked consistently for years to bring banks and mortgage lenders to the table to help prevent foreclosures and to stabilize city neighborhoods, said he is pleased with the assistance provided by Ocwen.
“We need an all-hands approach in strengthening neighborhoods and helping homeowners avoid foreclosure,” Alderman Murphy said. “This partnership and assistance from Ocwen will help many residents stay in their homes and keep our valuable housing stock stable and viable.”
The five point plan is the product of numerous discussions among the Mayor, Common Council President and Ocwen since July 2015. In addition to the plan, Ocwen and City officials have worked together on targeted outreach to delinquent Ocwen borrowers and have increased compliance with City registration ordinances to mitigate issues with vacant and “zombie” properties.
GSF Mortgage Corp. has added both Coby Matush and Brian Salak as mortgage loan originators in GSF’s Brookfield, Wis. location

GSF Mortgage Corp. has added both Coby Matush and Brian Salak as mortgage loan originators in GSF’s Brookfield, Wis. location. Both Matush and Salak are new to the industry and have recently completed the Xinnix Training for Loan Officers course as part of GSF Mortgage’s initiative to welcome Millennials into the mortgage business.

Matush is a recent graduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a major in business and a duel focus on HR management and general management. Salak is a recent graduate from California University of Pennsylvania with a degree in business administration with an accounting concentration.

“I have extremely high expectations for both Coby and Brian,” said GSF Mortgage President Chad Jamepdro. “They were chosen to be a part of our expansion project for non-experienced loan originators and they have been excellent selections so far. Both are highly intelligent and extremely hard workers. They have everything it takes to be successful in the mortgage industry, and I am proud that they are beginning their careers here at GSF. You will see great things from both of these young men.”

​GSF Mortgage has named Debbie Beier as chief operating officer

GSF Mortgage has named Debbie Beier as chief operating officer. Previously GSF's general manager, Beier will focus on making each department more efficient and break down the barriers between operations and sales. She will also work on increasing the service level standard at GSF Mortgage.

Beier is a well-established mortgage industry professional and has spent more than 20 years in the industry. The majority of her career has been spent in sales. She started out as an AE in sub-prime lending and transitioned into an account representative on the conforming lending side. She has spent the past eight years at GSF Mortgage where she began as an AE for the wholesale division and transitioned into business development and recruiting. Upon being promoted to general manager, Beier easily transitioned to the operations side of the mortgage industry due to her prior operations background in the insurance finance industry.

“It is my pleasure to introduce Debbie Beier as GSF Mortgage’s chief operating officer," said GSF Mortgage President Chad Jampedro. "Debbie’s commitment to our business and industry is unwavering. Beyond the accolades and titles, Debbie does one thing every day better than anyone else: she cares. She cares deeply about our customers and employees. Congratulations Debbie, the promotion is well deserved and we are all fortunate that we work with her on a day-to-day basis."

Beier was nominated by the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association (WMBA) as a finalist for the Milwaukee Chapter’s Best Mortgage Operations Award.

Outside of GSF Mortgage, Beier is a Girl Scout Troop leader and also serves on the advisory board at Lenders One.

GSF Mortgage has announced that Regional Manager Leo Spanuello has been elected as secretary of the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association (WMBA)

GSF Mortgage has announced that Regional Manager Leo Spanuello has been elected as secretary of the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association (WMBA)Spanuello became involved with the WMBA in 1994 as a way to better position himself in his career. He has held several positions such as the Milwaukee Chapter President and headed up separate committees on the state board including the single-family committee, membership committee and acted as a banker/broker liaison.

Spanuello has been in the mortgage industry for 23 years and has been involved within every facet of the business including mortgage loan originator, managing a wholesale and correspondent division, working for a title company and employed 12 years as a regional manger.

“The value of being involved with the Mortgage Bankers Association is not only the visibility amongst your peers but more so the knowledge and access that you have to make changes at a higher level,” said Spanuello.

Among the WMBA Board of Directors for 2016-2017 include Leo Spanuello, secretary; Jan Brezina, treasurer; Joe Doyle, president elect; Mike Kellman, president; and John Inzeo, past president.