Nearly year-old federal wage-and-hour regulations regarding overtime, an issue that wasn't even on the National Association of Mortgage Brokers' radar screen 12 months ago, have emerged as a top priority for the 27,000-member group.The rules, if violated, call for fines that association officials say could force small mom-and-pop loan originators to close their doors and leave borrowers hanging. "We'd like to see a total exemption if possible," outgoing NAMB president Bob Armbruster said at the group's annual convention in Minneapolis. Absent that, the NAMB is asking for guidance from the Labor Department about how to comply with the rules. "When the law was created, the mortgage broker business wasn't even in existence yet," Mr. Armbruster said during a press briefing. "The people who put mom-and-pop brokerages in business, the so-called attorneys and financial planners, never advised us that we had to comply with overtime rules." Noting that loan officers don't follow any particular work pattern -- some operate out of their homes and never come to the office, while others work the phones and never leave their offices -- the NAMB officer said his members need help in determining how to adhere to the wage-and-hour rules.

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