Jim Davis is editor of Scotsman Guide Residential Edition.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive director, National Association of Mortgage Brokers
By Jim Davis
Valerie Saunders is executive
director of the National Association
of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) and
is associations manager for NAMB
Association Services. She also has
maintained an active presence in
her state trade organization, the
Florida Association of Mortgage
Professionals. Saunders has worked
in the mortgage and title industry
for more than 20 years. She is the
vice president of RE Financial
Services Inc., a Florida mortgage
broker business, and president of
Title ClearingHouse of Jacksonville,
a Florida licensed title insurance
NAMB aims to make the road less bumpy for originators
The mortgage industry faces pressure from rising interest rates, tight inventory and complex compliance issues.
On top of that, the industry is seeing an abrupt move from a market fueled predominantly by refinancing to one
driven by purchase mortgages.
“Trying to shift everything from having that good balance and mix to relying once again primarily on purchase
transactions is difficult,” said Valerie Saunders, executive director for the National Association of Mortgage
Her trade association has represented the interests of the industry and its professionals for about 45 years. She
took on her current role with NAMB almost a year ago, filling a post that had been left empty since the Great
Recession. She shared her thoughts on what NAMB can do to make the ride a little smoother for its members.
How much disruption do you think the changing market conditions will cause the industry?
The people it will create turbulence for are new people coming into the industry, because without a solid base of
referrals or Realtor business, or having a grip on marketing [in] that for-sale-by-owner marketplace, you’re going
to have a challenge in building your base.
You’ve been in your present role for just about a year. What have you learned?
Our association is extremely hardworking and, quite honestly, I do not know how we did it without a core
staff for as long as we did. There is always something going on. Just like mortgage originators need to adapt,
our association is trying to adapt.
We are focusing much more on technology. As we go from millennials to (Generation Y), we’re going to lose a lot
of that face-to-face interaction, and we’ll have to really provide our members with resources and tools that are
web-based — webinars or video information or social media postings. People in their 20s or early 30s, they’re
used to getting information within seconds. We have to work really hard to make sure we’re providing that
information or at least accessibility to information within a similar time frame.
You mean you as an industry?
Both us as an industry and as an association. … Making sure you’re technologically adept to conform your
business to your customers. Most first-time homebuyers are in their 20s and 30s, and they’re not used to
Do you worry that a recession is on the horizon?
Do I worry about it? No. Am I aware it’s probably going to happen? Yes. I think for me personally as someone
who went through the downfall of the economy and successfully came out the other side I personally don’t
do long-range projections. I look at my business more as day to day or month to month, because things can
change. … My grandparents were extremely frugal because they came out of the Depression. I get that now.
What is the biggest issue for NAMB at the national level?
Retention is always a problem in any trade association. We’re no different than anyone else. I tell people this all
the time. It is easy — it’s never easy — it’s easier to get a person to pay their dues the very first time. It’s much
harder to get them to renew. You have to constantly be making sure your association is adapting to what your
members want and what potential new members would find attractive to join.
What do you hope your organization can do for the industry?
It’s the same thing my organization and all of our state organizations have been doing is protecting our ability to
originate. I’ve been a small-business owner for more than 20 years. We’re a vital part of the community.
How can the mortgage industry attract a younger generation to the business?
The industry for the last seven or eight years, in particular, has been very focused on the negative. … We spend
too much time on the doom and gloom instead of all the positives that come with this industry. Personally,
I was able to set my own schedule. I was able to spend more time with my family than if I had a regular 9-to- 5 job.
I was able to control my destiny.
I think we should focus on the successes and the positive parts of the industry and what it really does for people.
I do a lot of affordable-housing transactions. I see a lot of extremely happy people. We should be focusing on
those things instead of the difficulties of getting people there. n