Brian Stoffers, CMB, Reflects on Year as MBA Chairman

(Brian Stoffers, CMB, addresses the MBA Annual Convention & Expo Oct. 19.)

Brian Stoffers, CMB, served as Chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association during perhaps the most interesting year in its history—not that he or anyone else planned it that way.

“It has been my great privilege to serve you this past year,” Stoffers said this afternoon during the virtual MBA Annual Convention & Expo. “This job was a challenge that I gladly accepted. But of course, I had no idea just how challenging it would be.”

No one did. A year ago, the economy was soaring; the real estate finance industry was seeing the first hints of a refinance boom; and people were hugging each other without fear.

“I’d never seen such optimism and excitement from MBA members,” Stoffers said. “Then came COVID. The country shut down almost overnight. None of us saw this black swan on final approach in February. The effects were nearly instantaneous in the residential market. Millions of people lost their jobs, and many could no longer make mortgage or rent payments. New sales plummeted and people put off listing their homes.”

Stoffers, Global President of Debt and Structured Finance with CBRE Capital Markets, Houston, said the the situation wasn’t much better in commercial real estate finance. “We found ourselves looking at serious troubles for retail, restaurants, lodging and office space. Sales volumes dried up, financing came to a sudden stop and the indexes whipsawed up and down. Frankly, I’d never seen anything like it in my 40 years of experience. I don’t think any of us have, whether we’re in the residential, multifamily, or commercial side of the business. And we definitely weren’t expecting a global pandemic to be followed by a national reckoning on race relations and inequality.”

What emerged, Stoffers said, was remarkable resilience and agility on the part of the industry—and MBA. “We have been on the front lines since the very first day,” he said. “MBA has fought for you and come through for you – because now more than ever, you deserve our very best.”

Tough times, Stoffers said, are when MBA is needed most. “And in this tough time, the MBA has done the most to help our members,” he said. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish, especially given the chaos around us. I’m especially proud of how we forged stronger relationships with other trade associations. We joined our voice with those of others and it led to real results for you.”

None of us know what the “new normal” will look like,” Stoffers said. “But I do know one thing for sure: The Mortgage Bankers Association will continue to get the job done on your behalf. When you face a barrier, they’ll help break it down. When you see an opportunity, they’ll help you seize it. And when you have a need, the MBA will meet it, like they always do.”

As chairman, Stoffers claimed a “unique vantage point on the special role that you play in our economy and country. I’ve come to an even deeper appreciation for who you are and what you do. In the midst of crisis, you’ve stood up and stepped forward to do the right thing. You’ve helped organize food banks and charitable drives to help the hungry and needy. You’ve worked hard to provide gear and equipment to medical professionals on the front lines of the pandemic. You’ve taken a stand for racial justice and equal opportunity, enacting concrete steps to improve diversity in your workforces.”