Residential Magazine

Q&A: Valerie Saunders, National Association of Mortgage Brokers

Lower interest rates could revive the mortgage market

By Jim Davis

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary in operation. Started in 1973, NAMB serves as a leading advocate for mortgage brokers, promoting education, professionalism and ethical standards for the industry.

Last fall, experienced broker and long-time volunteer Valerie Saunders took over as president of the association. Saunders spoke to Scotsman Guide about what she expects to see with the mortgage market this year, trigger leads — companies purchasing names of people who have recently had their credit reports pulled — and why others should join NAMB.

What are your expectations for the mortgage market this year?

We just came off of a really positive conference, NAMB Focus in Orlando (in January). At that event, (MBS Highway CEO and mortgage expert) Barry Habib was our keynote speaker. And Barry gave a very glowing picture of the future for rates and business.

Based off his comments and also seeing the way the market is going and things that are happening, I’m very excited about not just 2024, but also ’25 and ’26.

Is it because of interest rates are coming down or inventory is loosening up?

Definitely for rates. To have a healthy marketplace, we need purchases, but we also need refinances. With the interest rates people acquired in ’22 and ’23 and even in the start of ’24, that makes a very good environment for somebody to transition from an 8% rate now into a 6% rate or even better.

What else could help the market return to normal?

More inventory. And quite honestly, foreclosures coming back again. The reason that I say foreclosures — not that I ever wanna see anybody get foreclosed upon — but there are obviously life circumstances that happen that require somebody to have to go through that. Foreclosures are a normal circle of life in the mortgage environment.

Why should lawmakers pass legislation limiting trigger leads?

Competition is healthy. It’s healthy for the marketplace. It’s good for the consumer because they have the opportunity to shop. However, these companies who are purchasing these leads, and I’m not saying it’s all of them, but there are bad apples.

A customer can get a hundred phone calls in a couple of hours after having their credit pulled. Or a customer gets a call from people saying, ‘I’m calling from your mortgage company,’ when they’re not. They’re not being honest. They’re a nuisance within the marketplace, and they’re creating a lot of confusion especially with first-time homebuyers and the elderly.

Why should homebuyers turn to brokers?

Shopping for a loan is a key component for a consumer to get the best loan type, the best interest rate, the best product available to them.

Because a mortgage broker is not subjected to doing business with just one company and offering one company’s rate, they can actually sit with a consumer, look at their credit profile, look at their circumstances, whether they’re self-employed, whether they’re a low- to moderate-income borrower.

Also, typically mortgage brokers are small business owners, so it’s reinvesting back into the community where you live. Around Thanksgiving, they have what they call the Small Business Shopping Day. A mortgage broker is no different. The typical broker shop is one to five people. So by utilizing a broker, you’re really helping reinvest in your own community.

Why should brokers join NAMB?

The sole purpose of our organization is to help loan originators, mortgage broker businesses, small businesses to be able to actively represent and serve the consumer. We are constantly on the pulse of what is happening legislatively, what is happening from a regulatory perspective. We have a variety of education that we offer as well as different certifications.

What else should I have asked you?

When you are thinking about, ‘What can I do?’ Be a member, come to an event, attend a webinar, take an educational class. If you want to do more, reach out to us, participate on a committee and see what your involvement does, not just for yourself, but for your own industry. ●


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