New VP voices mortgage professionals' biggest concern

"We really value their input, it's crucial to us"

New VP voices mortgage professionals' biggest concern

The biggest concern among mortgage professionals is that “business is shifting” amid the continued fall in demand for refinance loans, Laura Hopkins (pictured), the MBA’s newly appointed vice president of member relations has said.

Hopkins, who was previously the AVP at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), having joined the organization in 2017, said members’ concerns reflected the organization’s own findings.

Speaking to MPA, Hopkins said: “I think their biggest concern is that business is shifting. If you see the economic outlook, obviously refinance is going to be different going forward.

“From (our) standpoint there is margin compression, so they are definitely focusing on sharpening the tools that they have training their staff,” she said.

According to recent MBA data, refinance demand plummeted by 31% last week compared to the same period a year ago, with refi applications dropping in seven out of the last eight weeks. Refinance demand also fell by 5% for the week commencing November 15.

The drop is largely due to rising mortgage interest rates, which has hit the refinance market particularly hard.

Read more: Housing crisis – what can be done?

Hopkins, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Florida State University, will lead all residential member recruitment and member relations efforts, according to a statement by the organization.

Hopkins said there was “definitely a focus” within the MBA to have “the right people” hear members’ concerns.

She said: “We really value their input, it’s really crucial to us as a lobbying and advocacy team, and also crucial to the direction of the industry.”

She said one of her first tasks will be to build her team and recruit new MBA members, while ensuring that they “are aware of all the membership benefits”.

She cited educational courses as well as economic and data resources, in addition to networking groups - such as diversity, equity and inclusion communities – among the benefits, all aimed at helping mortgage professionals advance their career.

“Magnifying the awareness of our resources is also very important and challenging since the business is always changing.

“This is a tough business and they ride a roller coaster, so we’ve got to make sure that they know what they are paying for and that we maximize their membership benefits,” added Hopkins.

However, membership of the MBA is not always a requirement for those wishing to enroll in some of the schemes, a point Hopkins made during the interview.

She said: “We’re always working on behalf of the industry, so whether or not somebody is a member, we’re going to do the work.

“However, everyone benefits from the work the MBA does, so it’s important to make sure that people are aware of the impact that our work has on the industry and our members’ bottom line.”

Members can access information on a weekly and quarterly basis. The MBA also organizes industry conferences, where they can directly hear what industry leaders and experts have to say.

The MBA is also affiliated to lobby groups such as The Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA), which is dedicated to strengthening the industry’s voice and lobbying power in Washington (part of Hopkins’ remit will be to manage strategic partnerships with organizations such as the MAA).

Read more: MBA announces support for plan to close racial homeownership gap

In June, the MBA announced its support for the Black Homeownership Collaborative’s (BHC’s) plan to boost Black Homeownership by three million net new households by 2030.