Monday, May 19, 2008

Licensing for Mortgage Loan Originators

Arizona requires real estate agents to be licensed. We take licensing classes, have to pass a test, we are finger printed and we have to take continuing education courses. There is a system in place to discipline real estate agents who break the law or behave unethically. An agent will lose his license if the Arizona Association of Realtors determines he is a menace to consumers and the real estate industry. This system helps limit the problems caused by incompetent and unscrupulous real estate agents.

Home inspectors, architects, engineers, and surveyors are licensed by the Arizona Board of Technical Registration.

Did you know that the weakest link in the real estate industry is the mortage business? We are all aware of the home loans that were made to people who were not qualified or properly informed of the terms of their loans. It's obvious that some of the blame for the current high rate of foreclosures can attributed to mortgage loan originators who either didn't know what they were doing, or knew what they were doing, but didn't care about the tragedy they were creating for their home buying customers.

Arizona regulates mortgage brokers (the people who find the loan for the borrower) and mortgage bankers (the companies that have the money to loan to to the borrower), but mortgage loan originators, the 10,000 people on the front lines advising the borrower, are not regulated.

Recently the Arizona House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would enable Arizona to join 30 other states in requiring licenses for mortgage loan originators. Background checks, continuing education requirements and testing would eliminate many of the rotten apples in this business. The Arizona Assocation of Mortgage Brokers supports licensing.

Licensing of loan originators should be a slam dunk, but State Senator Pamela Gorman, a Republican who heads the Financial Institutions, Insurance and Retirement Committe, will not let the State Senate vote on the measure. Gorman prefers voluntary registration. She calls a license "a slip of paper" that won't prevent fraud. She has no plausible explanation for why she opposes licensing, and she can't explain how voluntary registration will help consumers.

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