Spring is in the air, and for sports enthusiasts like me that means one thing: Spring training and the start of yet another baseball season. As I check out the Florida box scores, I can’t help but find some parallels between the National Pastime and the current state of the mortgage industry.
- With the current down market many lenders have thrown in the towel and instead are saying “wait ‘til next year!” As the Brooklyn Dodgers found out time and time again (except for 1955) a team that is focused on the future and not the present usually ends up on the losing side of the scoreboard. The Yankees beat the Dodgers nearly every year from 1947-1956 because their focus was “This IS next year!” Lenders who are focused on growth and success despite a down market are finding it; those who are just waiting it out until next season may find that when the time comes they will not be fielding a team.
- Casey Stengel, who led the Yankees to 10 pennants and who was saddled with managing the famously inept 1962 Mets, was known for his muddled language. Reporters often scratched their heads trying to understand his point, and as a result Casey became the story which often took the heat off of his players. The regulators in Washington appear to be speaking in “Stengelese” these days. Thousands of pages of regulatory requirements that meander from topic to topic and leave lenders who now are responsible for implementing them thinking: “What in the world does that mean?”
- Attitude is everything in life. Cub star Ernie Banks loved baseball. He knew he was privileged to be paid doing something he really enjoyed, and when he arrived at Wrigley Field for a day game would often say “let’s play two!” I’ve noticed that those MLOs who really love what they do, who see their role as consumer-oriented not just another way to make money, find success no matter how tight the market might be. They show up for work every day and instead of saying “how am I going to get business “say “I’m going to close two!”
- Stan Musial was one of the most gifted and respected players of his time. When he arrived at the ballpark he would say “I think I’ll get three hits today,” however he was not a stat hog. Near the end of his a career he had to be told by a fan that he was approaching 3000 hits. Musial was a team player first. He had a notorious work out regime (rare for that time), supported his teammates, and encouraged preparation. Today lenders need to encourage more teamwork and to take appropriate steps to prepare for a new consumer and compliance focused marketplace.
With the Spring season here and everyone thawed from Winter’s deep freeze, the industry is poised to see higher originations and closed loan volume. As volume increases in a risky purchase market, it will benefit forward-thinking lenders to incorporate more risk management and quality control steps to avoid the type of fraud and defective loans that marked the last purchase boom from 2002-2008. As Yogi Berra reportedly said, “It’s like deja vu all over again!”