NYAMB Contends With Storm, More

Hurricane Sandy and the reelection of Pres. Obama were big topics at the roundtable with NYAMB officers.

There were two events in the weeks leading up to the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers annual convention which would have an impact on attendees and their immediate future.
The first occurred the last week of October when Hurricane Sandy struck the downstate region, causing massive disruptions. The organization delayed the meeting held in the Long Island hamlet of Melville for two weeks because of the storm. It even caused a change to the agenda, as organizers invited a representative from the Small Business Administration to address the attendees, giving them information they could use in the efforts to rebuild their offices as well as information about programs SBA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has that their clientele could access in their time of need.
The second event was the presidential election, held the week before. There had been more than a few people in the industry hoping for a Romney victory which would then result in a major overhaul of Dodd-Frank.
It was with this backdrop that Brad Finkelstein, managing editor of this publication, met with members of the NYAMB board: Louis Borsellino, president; Martin Pfeiffenberger, president-elect; Irene Amato, vice president; Mary Ann Pino, immediate past president; and Gene Tricozzi, past president and legislative chairman.

FINKELSTEIN: We are speaking one week following the presidential and congressional elections. How will the results affect your business going forward? Will it change anything?

BORSELLINO: That’s a tough question to answer. I am hearing there is supposed to be more across-the-aisle, working together. If that happens, then we will see great gains.

PFEIFFENBERGER: At this stage of the game it is the unknown. With the bickering across the aisles, nothing is getting accomplished. We don’t what is going to be happening. In the first (presidential) debate, with Romney saying you have QM and you never defined what QM is, it is very true. We as an association can’t put forth what we believe should happen until you actually get some clarification from the CFPB, Jan. 21 is their deadline to have it out.

TRICOZZI: The part that is going to be changing the most as far as legislation is concerned is the enactment of more and more of the Dodd-Frank law. What we had before was the Republicans were really not as enamored with the program itself. They were hoping they would have stronger numbers so they could make some changes to it. Now it appears it’s going to stay pretty much as it is and implementations will be forthcoming. I think it is going to have more of a negative effect on our industry.
FINKELSTEIN: Lou mentioned working across the aisles. Do you think the message from the electorate was that we want to see Congress work together and put aside partisanship?

TRICOZZI: I think it depends on which issue you are talking about. The fiscal cliff is more of a concern about working across the aisles than consumer financial protection.

FINKELSTEIN: Will Elizabeth Warren being elected to the Senate have an impact on the industry?

TRICOZZI: She’s never really been a champion of the brokerage community so it is going to be wait and see.

BORSELLINO: Who knows? Maybe three years after the crisis has occurred, maybe she’s got a different view of what went on. After you see the facts—brokers, we got thrown under the bus and we’re the scapegoat for everything. But you can’t blame the whole thing on brokers and loan originators, it was everybody’s problem. So after all these facts have come out, maybe she is more informed and more, not compassionate or sympathetic to us, but maybe she’ll better understand that it was not just us, it was a bigger piece of the pie.

PINO: I think Elizabeth Warren can be very beneficially to the industry because she was instrumental in building the CFPB as a special appointee of the president and I think she brings to the table the depth of knowledge and experience on how it was structured and put into play and what its responsibilities are under Dodd-Frank. So I can see it as being beneficial because she already has exposure to the industry.

FINKELSTEIN: And as Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals, said during his presentation at the conference, at least she seems to be willing to listen. She may have her positions but she is willing to consider others.

BORSELLINO: You hope so. You hope so. The biggest concern about organizations like CFPB is when they have a lot of people writing the regulations but they have no experience, they are not part of the industry, but yet they are making rules that affect us. You have a person that really doesn’t know the industry and they are going make judgments based on consumer groups, we’re going to have a problem.
PINO: In going to Washington, one of the things that has echoed every time we met with a representative has been unintended consequences.

AMATO: I think the mortgage broker’s voice may not have been heard the past couple of years, because as Lou said we were looked upon as the bad guys, but over the course of the past three years with all of the changes which have gone into effect, the consumers actually have a voice now and their complaints are being heard. After they review the complaints and the things that are the direct result of the rules and regulations and laws that they put in place they have no choice but to adjust them to benefit the consumer.

FINKELSTEIN: Hurricane Sandy has affected this area and from NYAMB’s perspective, it has taken two different tracks. First, your downstate members probably had their offices damaged, while clients have had their homes damaged. Plus, your regulator has had its offices (which are in the same building as Origination News) closed by the storm. How do you move forward?

TRICOZZI: I am in the upstate area, so we haven’t really been affected other than the Banking Department being in rebuilding mode. Not sure how long of a time frame they are looking but we are going to keep forward with the reports we are required to submit. The next big thing is going to be the mortgage loan officer recertifications for next year. Those are things that are going to have to be taken care of before Dec. 31 and that is going to be big concern for the brokerage community as a whole.

BORSELLINO: Everybody’s pipeline was affected. We all had loans that we were supposed to close. Now we had to get the property re-inspected. And some of the lenders were able to eat the costs of the price of the reinspection and of the rate extensions which occurred. But some of them were passed on to the consumer. A lot of brokers I spoke to said their building was underwater, so everybody has been affected.

PINO: The call to action was immediate with regards to the NYAMB and its concern for its membership and the communities it is servicing. We went ahead and reached out to the disaster recovery outlets that they have here to make sure that we had somebody here from the Small Business Administration to channel down the information to bring it back to the communities that we serve. We are all impacted by this moment and it goes back to the idea of working across the aisle. The only way we’re going to where we need to go and see an economic turnaround is to work together and that is the way it has to be.

FINKELSTEIN: On the legislative side, much of what is happening at the state level is tied to what is happening at the federal level. But what I found interesting was the “no way” in New York comment made by the representative of the Department of Financial Services to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System presenter when the latter brought up the universal state test that is being developed. Do you think that could hurt the industry in this state?

TRICOZZI: It is kind of a tough call. The Banking Department has a lot on its table. The main key again will be getting the MLOs recertified (for 2013) and I think that is what they are going to be concentrating on. There are 400 applications for new MLOs on the table that they won’t get to. I think they would prefer to keep some things status quo and really work on the things that are going to be impacting the industry.

AMATO: I think if you are going to be licensed in New York, you take a test in New York. There are different rules and regulations for each state, so I’m not sure how one test would pan out.