The market crashed in 2007, I know I felt it, that was the year I had to close down my Mortgage Company. I know that many Mortgage Brokers out there, (Correction: Ex-mortgage Brokers, because today we are almost non-existent, thank you Wall Street Gurus.)
Anyway, I know that the mortgage professionals were also the ones to suffer, we lost our livelihood and yet, we were the ones to be blamed for it. Funny how things turn out. Now, I am not saying there were all good brokers, just like there are bad cops, bad teachers, bad bankers and so forth, there were also bad brokers. But that is not a reason to blame all of them for the mortgage meltdown. Lets hear the side of an Ex-Mortgage Broker.
First of all, let me give you a little of my back ground so that you can understand why this topic I take to heart. I’ve been doing mortgages since I was 18. I am now 34. My first job was working for NationsBank, before Bank of America and NationsBank merged around 1999.
I started as a Loan Processor and worked my way up as an Account Executive. Mortgages was all I knew and I loved every minute of my job. I had such great satisfaction when helping someone live their dream of being a homeowner, or getting someone out of debt by consolidating all of their debt and dropping their payment so they wouldnt get into a financial bind.
Dont get me wrong, the money was great, but the truth is, many of my customers showed me their gratitude when the loan closed. Their kids wrote me letters, I got pictures, flowers and just so much joy resulted in the transaction that I had no other choice but to love what I did…This is how I ended up in the mortgage industry.
I became very successful, all my clients were either repeat customers or they were referred by someone I had done a mortgage for in the past. I never had to advertise or market my business, literally the business was knocking at my door every day.
I left Bank of America when I knew that even though I was only 24 years old and without a college degree, I knew that I had a gift. I was very motivated and very focused, so I took a risk and became a Correspondent Lender.
In my first 6 months I made over a quarter of a million dollars. Mind you, all the customers that I had, followed me, they didnt care to pay me points for me to do their loans, they just wanted me to do it because I always took good care of them. Ever since my first year in business, it was all a great success. I worked 7 days a week, 18 hours a day, but I never complained, in fact, every day, I woke up looking forward to going to work…. I loved it and I was proud of who I was.
However, today is a different story. Since 2007, Mortgage Brokers were given such a bad name, that I was ashamed to admit that I was a Mortgage Broker. I am dead serious….
I never did anything wrong, all I did, like many other professionals, was to provide a service that was available to the consumers by the lenders and the banks. We took a loan application, interviewed the customers to know what their needs were, we pulled their credit report, analyzed their debts versus their income, and found them several loans that were available to them from different lenders allowing them to see what was the best option for them. Qualified them based on what they gave us and what we were able to verify, and closed the deal. Simple, right? Wrong.
The banks and lenders had different programs available to all types of consumers, yes, even those with less than perfect credit were able to obtain financing. But the programs that really got us in this bind were the stated programs.
The names of the programs were Stated, SISA (Stated income stated asset) Under these programs the customer stated where they worked, how much they made, how much they had in the bank and verification was not required. In fact, the lender did not want to see any documents that sourced neither their income nor their assets. Wait, there is more….
Then we had the SIVA (Stated Income verified Asset) Under this program, the customer were to state their income but they had to source their assets. The loan officer or broker were to verify the assets only.
Every lender and bank had these programs available. Including the major banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and so on. The difference was on how much they would lend based on credit scores.
Another popular program that the lenders had available was 100% financing a day after the customers bankruptcy was discharged. Yeah, you heard me, one day out of bankruptcy and the bank would still give you a loan.. No money down. Huh? Did we think that was crazy? Yes, we did. Would I have done a loan with my own money to a borrower under that criteria? No Way!
But it wasnt my money, the bank wanted to give these people money, so who was I to say no. All we did was place the customer with the bank or lender that would approve them.
Now, I dont know if anyone remembers Long Beach Mortgage. They were the first lender in the market who was lending customers up to 85% loan to value on homes with credit scores as low as 400. Crazy, huh?
The Account Executives from every lender came in different brokerages everyday selling their Niche products. Long Beach was the Top 400 scores lender, First Franklin was the best lender to take your one day out of bankruptcy program. Every lender had their Niche. They were competing for the business and were in and out of mortgage brokers offices day in and day out, every day of the week.
Now this is what I dont get. We, the brokers gave a service to the people. We did not make the program nor did we approve the loans. So how did we get blamed for all of this? We simply gathered the borrowers information and shopped the loan. What do I mean when I say shop the loan? Simple.
Once we knew the needs of the customers, their credits report were pulled, a full loan application was taken and we were now able to take the loan to the banks that offered the best program for the customer. If they liked the loan, they would give us the interest rate and pre-approve the customer and the customer would have the choice of the program or lender of their choice; then we would send them the loan, they would underwrite the loan and re-verify all the work that we have done and if it met their guidelines, they would approve the loan and that was that.
The Mortgage Brokers were simply the middle people. The lender would never talk to the customers, everything that was done was done through the brokers. If the lender questioned something of the borrower, they would call us for us to call the borrowers and relay the message. If the loans needed to be modified according to the lenders guidelines, then it was done. The lenders guided us on what they wanted and how they wanted it done.
Now here me again. There were bad brokers who did unethical things, I am not saying all Mortgage Brokers were good. Money is the root of all evil. But this is not the only industry with bad apples. Greed caused so many people to come into this business when the business was booming, and people who had no business having licenses (for example, ex-cons and thieves) were given licenses and then, well you know…. It’s like having an ex-alcoholic work at a liquor store or even at a bar as a Bartender, duh, what did they think was going to happen? Fake documents were being fabricated, false appraisals were being done, and clear titles were being given when the truth was there were liens against the properties, and well the lists goes on and on.
The bubble burst and millions were out of a job. The true professionals who has been doing this for all of their lives, even before the boom, had to suffer the consequences of these greedy people.
Everything I worked hard for, I lost. I went from having 800 scores to mid 500, why? I had to walk away from everything because once I lost my company, I could no longer afford my lifestyle, and as thousands of others in my area as well were going through the same thing, there was no more work. Not even in the banks. I found myself having to go back to school because of the high demand for the positions I was applying for, experience was no longer enough, employers were now requiring a minimum of 4 yr degree with the experience. Like I said, mortgages was my life, this was all I knew, and I couldnt even find a job because for every one position I applied for, there were over 5,000 applicants applying for the same job. The ones who were ahead of the game were the ones with the experience and the degree….Go figure.
Right now, I have one year left to complete my Bachelors Degree in Business Management. I am now 34 years old, and the mortgage meltdown has caused me to take 20 steps back. Even though I am excited with my new venture it doesnt change that my experience is back at zero. And even though I know I will succeed again, it still hurts to start over when you are 34 years old. The sad part is, there are so many that can relate to my story.
While it is easy to blame those who were just doing their jobs, people really need to stop playing the blaming game, we were all victims of the mortgage meltdown, so stop feeling sorry for yourself. The only ones to make Millions and to survive this mess were the Wall Street Gurus who started all this in the first place. I bet not one of them lost their home, their credit or their livelihood… They made their money on our expense; what we lost, they all gained. But so what, there is nothing we can do, but just remember the story should not end there. Failure is when you give up.
For those who can relate to me just remember this, everything happens for a reason. If you had two drivers with the same amount of years in experience as a driver, but one had only driven on straight smooth roads and the other driver had driven on all types of roads for example bumpy roads, narrow roads and curvy roads, who would you say was a more experienced driver? Dont let obstacles hold you back, learn from it, and keep going, because it will only make you wiser and stronger.