The broker channel is still the best way for prospective homebuyers to get a mortgage. That’s the message of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), a new professional association for mortgage brokers.
AIME grew, at least in part, out of a grassroots movement to stand up to “whole-tail” lenders – lenders who claim to offer both wholesale and retail services, but whose wholesale divisions really exist only to pass on leads to their retail operations. Anthony Casa, president of Garden State Home Loans, fought back against this by founding Brokers Against Whole-tail Lending (BRAWL) to bring awareness to the practice.
“We had more than 11,000 mortgage brokers sign up for that movement, and its’ changed the way the mortgage business operates,” said Casa, chairman of AIME. “Our goal was to bring awareness to the entire broker community about those specific business practices. We didn’t expect that level of interest or support.”
The success of BRAWL helped get AIME off the ground, Casa said. The association’s goal is to be more than a lobbying organization – Casa said AIME also looks to offer solid business-building tools.
“It’s really focused on how brokers, as a community, can grow our business and take our market share to more than 20% in the next couple of years,” he said. “It’s a trade association that’s really focused on becoming a resource that the community can use to collaborate and grow their businesses.”
Part of that focus, Casa said, is on putting together conferences that are more than just events for vendors to sell their products.
“We call these conferences ‘mortgage expert workshops,’” Casa said. “We really want to break a trend in the mortgage space – a lot of these shows are very expo-style. It’s really a dog-and-pony show, and nobody’s getting anything out of it. We wanted to have something that was more focused on education, training and peer-to-peer communication.”
That means putting together workshops that give brokers information they can actually use – as opposed to workshops that function as 90-minute commercials for specific vendors, Casa said. That approach paid off at a recent AIME conference in Irvine, Calif.
“We wanted them to leave that show saying, ‘I’ve pulled information from each segment. I’ve really learned something here,’” Casa said. “The attendees really enjoyed hearing what people in their industry – in their own shoes – are doing to be successful. We want to build a brand around substance and quality – things that I’d want, and I know other originators want.”
AIME will hold its next Mortgage Expert Workshop June 13 in Denver. The workshop will feature panels with top originators, as well as addresses by NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis and former Navy SEAL and entrepreneur Brent Gleeson. For more information or to register, click here.
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