I have been meaning to do this (create my own blog) for quite a while now. Sadly, it has taken all of the recent bad press about others in the mortgage industry for me to get off my duff and a "snow day" in Seattle (when most everything else grinds to a halt).
I am a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist. I have been in the mortgage, title and escrow fields for over twenty years and have been amazed at what I have seen. I love my career. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see how much owning a home can impact a family’s quality of life.
It is equally amazing to me that up until recently, Loan Originators (aka Loan Officer, Mortgage Consultant, Mortgage Planner, Loan Specialist… to name a few) have been one of the few individuals without any requirements in our great state of Washington, to handle a family’s largest investment, their mortgage. Thankfully, this is all about to change. In fact just yesterday, I completed my on-line application with the Department of Finance to become a Licensed Loan Officer. Amazing, isn’t it? Up until now, only Realtors, Escrow Officers and Appraisers have been licensed (for the most part)…but the person advising you of the best mortgage and devising financial strategies for your future could have absolutely no training whatsoever or even be a known felon!
Governor Gregoire signed House Bill 2340 which will regulate all Loan Originators (UNLESS they are employed by a bank, such as Washington Mutual, Countrywide or Wells Fargo) providing residential mortgage loans in Washington State. Here are the basic requirements effective January 1, 2007:
- All Loan Originators will need to pass a basic compliance skills examination (this will not be available until mid 2007. Until then, we are just required to obtain our license and then we get to keep the license assuming we pass the test in 2007).
- Continuing Education courses will be required on an annual basis.
- Background checks will be required prior to licensing. Persons with felonies may be allowed to practice if their felony was prior to seven years ago.
This is, like my first blog, at least somewhere to start. It is definitely overdue. Many consumers and real estate professionals that I have talked to are often shocked to learn that there has been no regulation of mortgage originators (for the most part) in our state. It will be interesting to see how this will all evolve. As I mentioned earlier, I completed my application (all nine pages) yesterday. The questions that were presented blew me away–most were based on "have you ever committed a felony, fraud, caused a company to lose their bond…as well as wanting a 10 year employment history". I had the joy of being fingerprinted just last month (I’ve got sweaty hands). The real change in our system, after the background checks are complete, will be seeing how many loan originators will or will not pass the exam.
It’s not entirely the loan originator’s fault for not being educated. Most mortgage companies do not offer training. There are many courses and presentations available on line and "live". Currently, in most cases, it’s up to the loan originator to be motivated and passionate enough about their field to take these steps. Effective January 1, 2007, unless they work a big bank, it will be mandatory if the loan officer wants to continue their practice in Washington State.