I know of two loan officers – one who worked for a bank, the other for a mid-sized nonbank – who recently gave notice and went out on their own to become mortgage brokers. Both didn’t want to be identified but one worked for a top 10-ranked lender which recently trimmed its wholesale unit down to nothing. Meanwhile, the new mortgage employment numbers came out this morning and National Mortgage News provided readers with the scoop that residential finance hiring is up with the broker segment contributing nicely. (See the story on our website.) The question brokers need to ask themselves is simple: Are we, as an industry, back? It’s much too early to make that declaration, but one thing is certain: brokers may dislike all the regulatory hoops (and costs that go along with it) they face, but clearly it has driven second-rate performers and hacks out of their ranks, leaving (I assume) only the good guys. Next year when production slows a bit, it will become more of a purchase money market and then we will see the separation of ‘the men from the boys’ and ‘the girls from the women.’ Can brokers take on bank retailers and win? Then again, rates could keep tanking and refis could go on forever, but you get my point.