Chief operating officer and president of Fulton Mortgage Co.
Q: How have local lenders been affected by the fallout in the mortgage industry?
A: While all lenders have been impacted to some extent, I do believe those in Central PA have fared better than (in) many other areas. Generally, lenders here serve a more conservative customer, and some of the more exotic products weren’t as prevalent in this area.”
Q: What do you think of the federal response?
A: On (existing) adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate decreases (by the Federal Reserve System) did have an immediate impact on those (mortgages) that were due to reset now. Rate decreases by the Fed haven’t really fueled lower interest rates on (new) mortgages. Overall, I don’t think the decreases in rates (by the Fed) have impacted the mortgage industry as much as the enhancements that improved liquidity from (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) and now the Federal Home Loan banks. These more recent actions have resulted in creating more interest from investors, helping to push rates (on new loans) a bit lower. However, for those borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages due to reset, the timing (of the Fed’s rate cuts) couldn’t have been better. They are getting relief.
Q: The state House recently passed a mortgage-reform package. What do you think of the legislation?
A: The changes aimed toward licensing individual originators and putting stricter sanctions on errant appraisers are certainly well-intentioned. However, (the) No. 1, best thing a borrower can do to protect themselves is to borrow from a reputable lender. Banks have long been required to adhere to strict lending requirements. There are plenty of solid, well-run financial institutions providing loans to consumers. Make sure you know with whom you are dealing. That will eliminate most of the problems. I strongly recommend caution in selecting your mortgage partner. If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
Q: What are your expectations for the future of the industry?
A: I think the industry has a bright future. In an effort to fuel homeownership for more families, everyone involved strayed too far from normal qualifying criteria, and many borrowers were encouraged to buy beyond their means. Plus, there is still a lot of money available for people who want to buy a home, refinance or move up to their dream home. Everyone involved needs to be more disciplined.
Q: What’s it like to be with the same company for so long?
A: It’s been interesting, and I think (what has) made it work for me has been the ability to change and adapt to the changing surroundings. (Many leaders at Fulton have been there a long time. The company has bought several banks over the years.) We’ve brought in leadership from all those different banks that have really exposed us all to new and different ideas.