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Residential Department: Q&A: Frank Garay and Brian Stevens, TBWS Daily: December 2009


Q&A: Frank Garay and Brian Stevens, TBWS Daily

Frank Garay and Brian Stevens, Co-hosts, TBWS Daily

Frank Garay and Brian Stevens host ThinkBigWorkSmall's popular "TBWS Daily," an online video report dispensing mortgage news and opinion to viewers nationwide at Earlier this year, they led a charge to gain more than 112,000 signatures on a petition to reverse the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. We caught up with the duo — who have a combined 37 years' mortgage-industry experience as brokers and net-branch operators — to gauge their thoughts the coming year.

What worries do you have about efforts to stimulate the mortgage market?

Garay: Qualified buyers are being left in the cold.

Where do their difficulties stem from?

Stevens: Lenders are tightening their guidelines. They're taking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, they're taking Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guidelines and they're layering conditions on top of those. A couple of years ago, it seemed like lenders looked for reasons to fund loans. Right now, it seems like they're looking for reasons to decline loans.

FHA seems to be propping up the market. How important is FHA to mortgage brokers today?

Garay: It's critical. Let's face it, it's all about the cash to get into the property, and FHA remains a 3.5-percent game.

Stevens: It will continue to be an FHA world. Mortgage insurance on Fannie and Freddie products is prohibitive for your average borrower.

Beginning Jan. 1, FHA will prohibit broker-ordered appraisals. As opponents of HVCC, how do you feel about that?

Garay: It seems to me like FHA just wants to get unfair influence of appraisers out of the picture. They still want to make sure that appraisers are paid appropriately and make appraisals portable. Quite honestly, we have no problem with that. We completely understand that an appraiser shouldn't be influenced by the person ordering the appraisal, but HVCC completely missed the sweet spot.

So what do you find most encouraging about today's market and the upcoming year?

Stevens: People are still getting loans, and they're getting 30-year, fixed-rate loans at rates that were being sold on 3/1 ARMs just a few years ago. Loans are harder to get. But the loans that people can get — if they don't mind the difficulties getting them — they'll never have to refinance.

Garay: What I think is encouraging is the fact that the people in the mortgage-brokerage industry who have taken it seriously from the beginning as a career choice, most of those people are still here, and they're going to stick around. I think we're going to have a lot of really professional people handling these loans in the future. I think we're going to see a lot of small mortgage brokerages get absorbed by larger mortgage brokerages. But I believe brokers are here to stay.


Darrick Meneken was an associate editor at Scotsman Guide. For questions on this article, call (800)297-6061 or e-mail

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