‘An Extraordinary Time’ for IMBs

AMELIA ISLAND, FLA.–When the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference first began six years ago, it attracted 300 participants. This week, more than 800 IMB representatives have gathered here.

For IMBs, MBA Chairman David Motley, CMB, President of Colonial Savings FA, Fort Worth, Texas, called the current environment “an extraordinary time with the opportunity and momentum we have to advance our industry and continue serving our customers and community.”

MotleyIMBThis is especially true for independent mortgage banks, being so close to the communities we serve,” Motley said. “At the heart of what we do, it’s about home, it’s about communities and it’s about families.”

Motley said IMBs can shape the path forward by “keeping the foot on the pedal” in working with regulators and other industry players. “The reality is though, while the housing market has largely recovered, we still face daunting obstacles preventing us from doing what we do best–serving the people and families of our communities,” he said.

Motley noted lack of inventory continues to hamper the housing market. “We can’t sit around waiting for this problem to solve itself,” he said. “Our role should be that of a thought leader to look for ways to prudently improve housing supply. We must engage with our sister trade associations and partner with local home builders to improve supplies…when we partner, when we work with coalitions, we make things work.”

Motley added the current lending environment is the safest it’s ever been. “Whether you credit post-crisis legislation and regulations or a re-calibrating of our own responsible lending standards, the lending environment is safe and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said. “Bottom line: we must maintain discipline around sustainable lending and ethical practices. We have the ability, and I would say, responsibility, to prevent another race to the bottom. We need to keep it that way. We need to ensure that everyone is working toward responsible lending and keeping it that way.”

By working with federal regulators, Motley said, we can achieve proper consumer protections balanced with reasonable regulation. “We have new opportunities to work with the CFPB, FHA and FHFA to secure clearer rules of the road,” he said. “Working together, we can modernize our industry by executing on a more holistic approach to housing.

Motley noted with 16 million new households coming in the next decade, new housing units will be needed. “And given that this coming wave will be the most culturally diverse in our nation’s history, we must transform how our companies look in order to better reflect the customers we hope to serve,” he said. “This is especially important for IMBs and community banks, who are so close and so connected to our communities.”

Housing is much more than just selling to customers in a transaction, Motley said. “It’s about reflecting and being a part of the communities we serve,” he said. “It’s about establishing long-term relationships with borrowers so that we can be their real estate financing adviser through their life changes. Join me in engaging with our industry partners–builders, developers, realtors and consumer groups–so we are all working together to find common solutions to solve the affordable housing crisis.”

Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David Stevens, CMB, said MBA has worked had at leveling the playing field for all lenders in the industry, particularly IMBs. “On every issue we work on, more often than not it has IMBs in mind,” he said. “You represent 80 percent of our membership and represent half of the loan originations in the country.”

On GSE reform, Stevens said the path remains unclear. “The impact for our industry is going to be huge,” he said. “I think you are going to see legislation that is close to the MBA plan that we have championed for the past year…that will protect the playing field for everyone.”

No matter the policy, MBA advocates for what’s right, Stevens added. “We are more powerful when we work together,” he said. “We are more powerful than we’ve ever been…we are the ones driving policy, but it will only continue if we stand together.”