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Webinars and instructor-guided online courses are designed to combine the benefits of a live instructor with the cost savings of remote access to information. The pros and cons of these courses are similar to those of self-paced courses versus live courses. The bottom line ultimately is balancing a course’s upsides and downsides in terms of time, cost and the level of retention you expect as the learner. If you’re an employer paying for your staff’s continuing education, it’s also important to see a return on investment through improved performance, such as higher-quality Federal Housing Administration applications or fewer good-faith estimate errors.
Whether you prefer live courses or online courses, make sure that you’re bearing in mind the S.A.F.E. Act’s so-called no-repeat rule, which stipulates that a mortgage loan originator cannot take the same course two years in a row. Watch for certain words in course headings that may suggest their content is the same as that of courses you took previously. It may be a different course provider or format, but if the content is largely the same, you could be in trouble.
On a related note, brokers and originators should be wary of continuing- education providers grouping multiple module topics into one eight-hour block that uses only a single NMLS identification number. In that scenario, if just one hour of the eight-hour course overlaps with another course you’ve taken in the past, then you won’t be able to use any of the course’s hours for credit. Because of this, it’s vital for brokers and originators to check not only a course’s title but also the subtitles of its modules, thus ensuring that all components of an eight-hour program are new topics for them.
The no-repeat rule may force some brokers and originators to divide their training regime throughout the year. To complicate matters, because the NMLS only approves courses that meet the full requirement of a particular category — such as three hours for federal compliance or two hours for ethics — brokers and originators typically can’t manage their requirements one credit at a time.
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Regardless of its intricacies, ongoing education is an unavoidable — and all-important — aspect of the mortgage industry. With the influx of business that low interest rates have created for many mortgage professionals, it may seem difficult for some to fit continuing education into their busy schedules. However difficult it may seem, originators should remember that ongoing industry education is not only required, but also is at the heart of their professional success.
Alice Alvey is president of Mortgage U Inc., which she co-founded with Jan Wetzel in 1996.
An industry expert with experience from application through servicing since 1982, Alvey previously served as senior vice president of operations for a national bank holding company that included retail and wholesale lending. She’s designed hundreds of education programs, is author of the FHA and VA Practical Guides, and is a compliance adviser and operations consultant. Reach Alvey at email@example.com.
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