Despite the worst job market in decades and an influx of employee applications, some mortgage lenders are finding that the current job market is presenting new challenges. Some attribute a lack of qualified applicants to increasingly stringent licensing requirements, but there could also be a new challenge stemming from the larger mortgage industry’s role in the housing crisis, and the perception that has ensued.
For reverse mortgage lenders, hiring new staff is becoming more difficult, even though more people are seeking jobs, lenders say.
“There is a saturation point, but I think I could take another 10 guys and keep them busy,” one lender told RMD.
The biggest challenge is licensing, says Paul Fiore, director of sales for American Advisors Group. The requirements are becoming more stringent at a time when fewer applicants have background in the industry.
Even originators who left the industry to pursue other jobs have returned to find they are now subject to the new requirements, which they had not experienced previously.
“If I meet with 10 people, six will be in sales but not mortgages,” says Paul Fiore, director of sales for American Advisors Group, which runs a reverse mortgage call center in Irvine, California.
Of applicants without mortgage experience, Fiore says, the pass rate for licensing exams can be as low as 50% in his experience. For those who do have background in the industry, he estimates it is closer to 75% who pass. Overall, he says, more inexperienced than experienced are applying.
But on top of that, the mortgage meltdown and ensuing housing crisis has also changed the dynamic, he says.
“There were many in the industry who may have left to pursue other careers over the past six to 12 months,” he says. “Now, they may try to get back into the industry, but they didn’t realize there were going to be so many tests, and that the exams are more challenging.”
The forward mortgage business is facing its own set of challenges with a refinance boom sparked by record low rates. As mortgage companies ramp up staff to meet the demand, many are wondering how long they can keep the new hires on, National Mortgage News reported this week.
But there may be also be a larger issue in the public perception of the housing crisis and the role lenders played in the financial collapse.
“It is way down on the list,” a lender told RMD of his hiring challenges, “because of the way people acted during the ‘good’ years.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker