LAS VEGAS — Credit unions need to focus on some of their housing finance particulars as part of thinking strategically about their housing finance business, according to a leading mortgage consultant.
Steve Williams, principal at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Cornerstone Advisors, a bank and credit union consultancy, told executives Tuesday at this year's American Credit Union Mortgage Association annual conference that their institutions need to both focus on the details of their housing finance program at the same time they focus on positioning themselves in a changing mortgage market – a market which is moving from a heavy refinance volume to a much smaller purchase loan volume.
“Congratulations to all of you on the fourth floor.” Williams told the executives. “Thanks to you, as margins on other products and services were sliding into the pit, you helped keep the lights on and us in money enough to do some really cool stuff, but you have also been telling folks that rainy days might be coming and guess what, they're here.”
Williams described this reality as part of the “ouch” moment in mortgage lending and he said he would not want to downplay that, but he urged executives not to focus on the negatives.
Instead focus on “what kind of optics am I giving my people? How I am getting them charged up,” he asked.
Williams recounted the factors which he said were highlighting the improving housing finance opportunity, including the increasing number of affordable homes available, the pent-up demand for homes, the fact that many Americans have far better debt ratios than they did five years ago and the notion that sometime on the medium term horizon members of Generation Y will start to want to move out of their parents' basements and find their own homes.
Williams called this opportunity the “sweet spot;” the space between the old mortgage brokers who have largely been shut down by compliance requirements and the big banks. “You can be the local, progressive, not sleepy, creative and energetic mortgage lenders in your communities,” he told the executives gathered at his session at the ACUMA conference in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.