Observations from taking the SAFE Act required licensed mortgage originator exam

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I finished the last requirement for maintaining my license to originate mortgage loansfor homes in Washington this week: I passed the national exam required by The SAFE Act.  I will be required, as a licensed mortgage originator, to take 8 hours of continuing education every year since I've met my 20 hour requirement this year.  (Note: mortgage originators who work for depository banks, like Bank of America, Wells Fargo or Chase, or credit unions like BECU or Alaska Federal Credit Union, are not required to be licensed and are not held to the same standards per the SAFE Act.  You can read more about that here). 

I called a few weeks ago to schedule my test times at the PearsonVue Center.  The number I called directed me to a local office who then provided me with a toll free number.  The center said they could not schedule my appointment there.  Much to my surprise, when I called the toll free number to schedule my Federally mandated exam, I was sent to a call center in India!  Is it just me, or is there something wrong with off-shoring jobs for something that is required by our government?   Especially during these times when unemployment is darn near 10%.

I arrived at the exam center in Renton a half hour early and had my palms scanned.  Ladies, be warned, if you're wearing a jacket, you may be asked to remove it and leave it hanging outside during the test.  I wasn't quite prepared for this and probably would have worn a different top than what I had on underneath the jacket. 

The exam itself is multiple choice with a good portion of it being on Federal laws.  In my opinion, I don't find it very important knowing which branch of government created or oversees a certain law as knowing about the law.   Does it matter if it's HUD or the Federal Reserve Board who oversees RESPA or RegZ?  If you're violating RESPA, you're violating RESPA.  I think there's too much emphasis on this portion of the test.  I'd like to see more questions testing a mortgage originators general knowledge and their ethics, as well as the laws and regulations (just not so much focus on the "who" and more on the "what" and "why").  

I also think it would be beneficial to have specialized desiginations for mortgage originators that would require additional education and testing, for programs such as the Reverse Mortgage.  Just because I have the product available at our company, doesn't mean that I should be originating the loan.   

If your loan originator is licensed, they must take and PASS the (state and national) exams by December 31, 2010 or they cannot take a loan application effective January 1, 2011 unless they go work for a bank or credit union.  If they work for a bank or credit union, they don't have to sweat it.  They will need to register with the NMLS, but that's it. 

You can see if your mortgage originator is licensed or not by visiting www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org.

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