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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   April 2004

Effective Lobbying: What’s in it for you?

(Editor’s Note: While this article is written from the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers’ viewpoint, its message is universal.)

Are you enjoying your role as a mortgage originator? Enjoying the income? How would you like to ensure that it continues for many years, regardless of what rates do?

Consider the athlete, the coach, an attorney, even a doctor. What do they all have in common? They know the rules of the game (or profession), keep up with changes, even participate in making changes that benefit their own position whenever possible.

Today’s mortgage originator is more informed, more sophisticated than in years past so – Hey, wait a minute? How did this continuing education requirement become mandatory anyway? It only makes me take time out of the office when I could be working on more loans in my pipeline and making more – Well, yes, I guess I did learn more about what my processor does. And that credit scoring class helped me turn three different borrowers into good loan customers because I could tell them how to fix the mistakes on their credit reports. But . . .   

So how did it become mandatory? Were you part of the process? Whether for it or against it, you could have joined those who became involved in lobbying our legislators in an effort to maintain some control over the future of our industry. Whether on a state level (i.e. mandatory continuing education) or a federal level (i.e. predatory lending laws), our industry has experienced many changes that affect how we do business. We can either ride the tide or hop on the appropriate vessel and participate in steering our own future path. It is not too late! In fact, if we encourage others to join us, we increase our lobbying voice. However, we must make a commitment to do a little homework so we can make the most of opportunities.

The homework? Learn about pending changes and what they could mean to you and your customers. For Federal or National changes, simply peruse this paper or go to namb.org. Another good source is NFIB. Pending HUD regulations have been prominent in many publications for the last several years. Now the talking is over as far as HUD is concerned, but the rules have not been released at this writing and many of us are figuratively holding our breaths and preparing for legislative or legal action if the worst occurs.

On a state level, famb.org can provide the information you need to understand the issues our industry has been facing recently. Since 1985, FAMB members have been taking a proactive role, working diligently to educate legislators concerning the effects of their proposed legislation. Our strong grass roots lobbying has played a tremendous part in forming legislation that has been consumer and industry friendly. We have provided concise examples of constituents who would be harmed and that became the pivotal point changing the direction of the initial Section 32 laws. Where legislators and staff in their diligent pursuit of protecting constituents would have caused irreparable harm to others, we provided information in a respectful and non-threatening manner. They were compelled to listen, do further research and concede to proposed changes that made a prohibitive law protective, yet manageable, allowing desperate borrowers to use their home’s equity when necessary while installing precautions and protections.

Yet, even as the number of mortgage originators grows, fewer and fewer realize they have the ability to help to direct the future of our industry simply by becoming involved in our association’s annual lobby. That’s right, one or two short trips per year could make a vast difference in the outcome of future legislation. Yes, it can be that easy: 1. Join the ranks (membership), 2. Stay informed (if nothing else, check the websites), 3. Go to legislative lobby days (Tallahassee or Washington is good. Both are better). Then reap the rewards of: 1. Better laws, 2. Great connections (I have my photo with such prominent legislators as former President Bush, former Senator Connie Mack, Congressman Porter Goss, former Senator Fred Dudley, former Rep. Tim Ireland, Rep. Greg Gay, and our own member, Rep. Nancy Detert, and others on my office walls), and 3. A great feeling that your customers know you care about them so they keep coming back and referring their friends and relatives.

A few letters and phone calls during the year are also beneficial if you want to really get involved. Take a legislator to lunch. You will be amazed at how much they appreciate your interest in what they do. Most sincerely want to help people and are limited in their knowledge of how to go about it. And anyone who has been in the industry for a couple of years knows something that could be improved to help some of their customers.

So do you still think rising rates may be the end of your business? I started my business in 1980 with only a mild interest in the legislative process. In 1982, an attorney I knew decided to run, and, the following year, a friend’s son also threw his hat into the political ring. I agreed to help and the rest is history – including several mortgages for our legislator’s friends, relatives and staff members over the years. Go ahead and check it out. Book your reservations for your lobbying debut now!


 


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