In many ways, I’m from the old school of real estate. I believe agents should help buy and sell, and lenders should lend. One-stop shopping to me means Costco.
So, when an old friend and co-author, John Tuccillo, disclosed he was one of the prime movers in an innovative program designed to provide real estate agents with the education necessary to give consumers a one-stop shopping experience that includes finding their home and financing their purchase, I became unglued.
“You have to understand that consumers now demand more from their agent,” Tuccillo said. “You may not agree with it, but that’s the way it is. Some agents may not want to become involved, yet there are a lot of real estate professionals who do.”
Tuccillo, former chief economist for the one-million-member National Association of Realtors, is a director of the National Association of Mortgage Counselors (NAMC), the group behind the new Certified Loan Counselor (CLC) designation program. The credential is available for professionals who want to offer dual services as a real estate professional and loan originator. To obtain the designation, real estate agents will first need to complete the CLC training program.
In a capsule, the CLC training program (www.thenamc.org) is a full-day course that consists of seven modules designed to educate real estate salespersons on all aspects of originating mortgage loans. The course incorporates a variety of information including as regulatory compliance in assisting the client with selecting the most appropriate mortgage loan product and term and marketing their professional services.
“You are living in the Dark Ages if you don’t think this is the future,” said Gordon Schlicke, who spent 40 years in mortgage lending and now is an author, teacher and consultant. “This is a good thing and I’ll tell you why. While mortgage brokers have to be licensed in many states, loan originators don’t have to be even registered. Many times, we don’t even know how to find them. They can work for four or five lenders. This new program will make them get training and counseling – something many of these guys making loans today have not bothered to get.”
After completing the training program, CLC participants will work with a mortgage company approved by the NAMC to originate and fund loans. They will need to originate and fund at least two loans within the next six months in order to receive the CLC designation. This will help ensure that they have successfully completed the training requirements of the NAMC and the lender and can competently assist their customers with their mortgage lending needs. After receiving the designation and membership in the NAMC, participants will be required to attend continuing education courses to stay abreast of industry changes and improve the quality of service they provide their clients.
NAMC selected Scottsdale, Ariz.-based L&G Mortgagebanc as its approved lending partner. L&G has developed a mortgage origination model (patent pending), which enables real estate agents, as well as financial and insurance professionals, to expand their service offering to include mortgage originations and offer the type of one-stop shopping experience the NAMC promotes.
Not everyone is sold on the idea. In fact, the real estate industry in general has been split for years on the merits of one-stop shopping.
Gary Buckley, associate broker in the Pacific Northwest’s RE2K.com real estate, has seen both sides of the coin in his 15 years as loan broker, buyer’s agent and real estate consultant. Buckley recently wrote “the problem will be an under served borrower and/or an overworked agent. Agents may think they have developed in themselves a unique selling proposition to the buying public, but the mortgage brokerage industry is going to be loud (and accurate) in their criticism and a reasonable buyer will do his loan through a mortgage broker that may be one of many that can offer a better rate and terms.
“Shopping the competition is much smarter for a borrower than one-stop shopping, and that will be made clear by the mortgage brokers and lenders. I predict that almost in a disparaging way, the lending industry will make the agents out as less knowledgeable, less efficient, and less competitive if not made to appear somewhat motivated to make a few more bucks off the consumer…”
Buckley, and others, say the CLC idea is a noble concept but it’s been tried before and simply did not catch on. While agents need to know more about the loan process, asking them to take on the added responsibilities of originating is too much. Despite what my friends say.
Tom Kelly’s new book “How a Second Home Can Be Your Best Investment” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95) was co-written with John Tuccillo, former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors and is now available in local bookstores. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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