The National Association of Mortgage Brokers show in Las Vegas this past December was a revelation for what had been an industry and trade group in upheaval.
There is no doubt about it. Mortgage brokers took it on the chin as a result of the financial crisis. The business environment for the trade was unfriendly, with darts coming from government on hand and large mortgage bankers on the other.
Attendance at mortgage broker trade shows on both a national and state level suffered. Yet, NAMB National ended up with nearly 1,500 people registered. To put a context on that, the official attendance at October’s Mortgage Bankers Association annual was 3,500 (although some estimates have the number of unofficial attendees equally that).
The change, as officials from NAMB discussed in a roundtable with Origination News managing editor Brad Finkelstein, was a repositioning of the organization to include all forms of originators. This part of the discussion includes NAMB president Donald J. Frommeyer, vice president John Councilman, treasurer Fred Arnold, immediate past president Jim Pair and government affair committee chairman John H.P. Hudson.
FINKELSTEIN: The attendance at the show this year, with almost 1,500 people registered, when I heard this prior to the show, I’ll admit I was shocked. How do you see this, as both a sign for the business as well as for your organization?
FROMMEYER: I think what you’re seeing is that everything is coming back. We’ve had an excellent year in the mortgage business. I don’t know any mortgage professional right now who isn’t a little bit busy. (As for the conference) we offered a great product this time. We made some changes over the past two years from what we’ve done and this time we became a little more aggressive in doing things. We hired an executive director, Vincent Valvo, to do that and it has really paid off. So a lot had to do with good business and we had a lot to offer.
FINKELSTEIN: Until now it has been a tough ride for the mortgage broker business.
FROMMEYER: It has been and also I wonder if this had been in October or November if that number of 1,500 would have been 3,000 (because) we are two weeks before Christmas Eve.
ARNOLD: The originator, the mortgage professional has finally come back. It was learning how to reorganize, to understand the new legislative environment, to personally financially rebuild our companies. Because of that for several years we had some challenging times getting the numbers here. Because the new professional is looking for ways to serve his or clients even better, serve the consumer even better, that’s why we’re seeing them come in bigger numbers this year than in past years. So not only is it the fact that the economy is a little better in our industry, the level of professionalism is higher than it’s ever been. For this many people to come to Vegas in December shows the commitment our professionals have for the industry. That is what is most important, the consumer is getting a higher quality of professional, that’s seeking out ways to continue to serve the American people even more and that’s something we can’t hold lightly.
HUDSON: I am the government affairs chair and I like to put a GA spin on things. I also believe that while yes over the last several years we have been down, the resurgence this year also has to do with the rebranding of NAMB. We are no longer NAMB, the broker association; we are now NAMB the Association of Mortgage Professionals. The issues that are coming down on both the legislative and regulatory front for originators out there—it is no longer an issue of mortgage brokers, it is no longer an issue of mortgage bankers. These are consumer issues. So mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers are all finally coming together as one united front. And under the direction of the new and improved rebranded NAMB we are really seeing that.
COUNCILMAN: We are going to continue to make those changes at NAMB to make it better. This association is really beginning to gel and work like a machine. We really have made some tremendous strides in this association to bring it back to what it really needs to be to be competitive in this marketplace.
FINKELSTEIN: We will probably never see brokers having a 70% market share of originations ever again. But what do you consider to be, when everything finally right-sizes, to be the proper market share?
FROMMEYER: It is kind of ironic that you asked that, because I was talking with a couple of mortgage bankers and all they kept talking about is how they broker loans out. It isn’t always the fact that the correspondents are (selling as whole loans) 100% of their business. They are doing brokered loans. You have credit unions that are doing that, you have banks that are now doing that. There are banks in Indiana that are brokering loans over to a bank in Illinois, because they can get a better price for them and they don’t have to worry it. I don’t think we will get to the 70% to 75% that we once had. But I would venture to say that 45% to 50% of all loans right now are being brokered.