As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, March 2012.
This month’s 2012 Regional Conference of MBAs brings together the mortgage bankers associations of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as mortgage bankers and brokers from the surrounding area. E. Robert Levy, executive director and counsel for the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey, gives us a preview of the conference and his thoughts on where the market is headed this year.
What are some of the association’s goals for this year?
We are hoping to increase our membership. We’re going to be doing educational webinars, and we’re going to start a members-only conference call to bring our membership up-to-date on what’s happening in New Jersey and nationally. We also will provide an amendment [to the New Jersey legislature] to the current Residential Mortgage Lending Act, particularly in the area of fees and charges that are allowable to lenders and brokers. We have an archaic set of fees and charges that has been on the books since 1981. We think it’s time for fees and charges that are broad enough to allow for our industry to operate in the current marketplace and also to meet the requirements that are going to be coming out of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
What issues are of concern to your members?
These are tough times, more difficult than any I recall in terms of regulation and legislation. Mortgage banking is complex enough without introducing some of the controls that are being looked at now. If they’re not properly aired with the industry and carefully crafted so as not to be overly constrictive, it can disrupt the marketplace. Dodd-Frank and some of its provisions — with regards to risk retention and the qualified residential mortgage (QRM) definition — those are major issues for our industry. The QRM definition in its current proposed form would require a 20 percent downpayment, which we think is overly conservative. If the definition remains as it is, it’s going to have a serious impact and make mortgage lending much more difficult.
Why should mortgage brokers and bankers attend events like the regional conference?
They are extremely beneficial. I think a lot of younger folks in the business don’t fully appreciate the way in which they can benefit from attending a conference like this. What you don’t get from the Internet is face-to-face networking opportunities. You can’t beat the educational experience of sitting in at a program and getting a chance to meet and talk with speakers.
How will the housing market fare this year?
The housing market is in part driven by jobs, and where that goes in 2012 will have a lot to say about where the housing market goes. Another factor is people who can afford to buy but have been waiting in the wings for things to hit rock bottom. Some areas of the country have pretty much hit bottom, and people will realize if they don’t buy now, they’re going to have to buy when prices come up. In terms of the speed at which things will improve, it’s going to be a slow, long process. And that’s what we’re going to live with for a few years.
Jennifer E. Garrett is the editor of Scotsman Guide. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.