Do rising interest rates mean less buyers, or just the opposite? NFM Lending CIO, Christos Bettios, is recently back from the MBA Conference in Washington DC. Hear his takeaways on the current and future states of the mortgage industry in this exclusive NFM TV interview.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Greg Sher: Welcome into another edition of NFMTV, I’m your host Greg Sher, delighted to be joined by my good friend and colleague, Christos Bettios, he’s the CIO of NFM. Christos you’re fresh back from the MBA Annual, it’s a big deal every year but this year in particular, it was an even bigger deal because of the climate that we’re in with rate compression. What was the feel there first of all before we get into all the details, all the big name lenders where there including NFM, what did it kinda feel like compared to other years.

Christos Bettios: Lots of great content, good attendance, a very high profile speaker, Great event overall. As you said, clearly, there’s some industry angst with regards to a couple of things. First, the compressed profit margins, right, everybody is talking about that, every lender is talking about that. The second is that they are not seeing a lot of growth in volumes, right, the projections for next year are to remain about the same size. So to answer I think when I look at that part of the story, I see that we were well prepared for this market, we had switched the purchase market before everybody else, so we were not faced with the same pressures that they were.

Greg Sher: In terms of NFM.

Christos Bettios: In terms of NFM.

Greg Sher: I know that despite the climate and the fact that there is so much angst out there as you mentioned, there were a lot of positives, a lot of things that you took out of there, feeling really really great about the momentum of NFM and the industry. Share those things with everybody.

Christos Bettios: It really was and I don’t know if everybody did, but certainly I did, I think the environment is amazingly positive, for the mortgage industry, for a couple of things, we’re seeing significantly strong income growth and employment projected to last for at least a couple of years. So we have that, which is a fundamental growth engine for the housing market.

Greg Sher: And that’s different, if you go back to the crisis we had in the mid to late 2000’s, 2007, 2008, it was quite different, you had… you didn’t have a strong economy because of the meltdown, and rates were actually going in this direction, now they are going in this direction. So just comment on that real quick, and how it feels.

Christos Bettios: So having been in the industry a long time, I think since we are focused on the purchase market, I view a gradual raising of rates a positive for the purchase market, meaning when borrowers have anticipated rate would be higher in the near future, more likely to execute, especially first time home buyers. So on that point, I think it’s where the real strength of the story was, the economic background, right, the largest part of the population today is 25 years old. So for the next 10 years…

Greg Sher: There’ll be a boom in the industry.

Christos Bettios: Correct.

Greg Sher: For purchase business, first time home buyers.

Christos Bettios: Correct, first time home buyers, purchase business is gonna be strong for the next 10 years because there’s a strong amount of the millennium population coming up and so cap all that with a strong economic indicators job and growth and incomes, I think there story is very very good.

Greg Sher: Given that and your experience in that lane and the fact that the CEO of LoanDepot and the chairman of Quicken Loans to real visionaries when it comes to digital mortgages, that they were there, that they were key note speakers and you got to kinda take that all in, what did you come out feeling like in terms of the digital transformation.

Christos Bettios: I think the industry is finally focused in this area, that’s very key. Right, people talk about there’s just so much data and data available right now, yet the processes have remained largely paper and people keying and rekeying. So we see these two market leaders investing heavily in innovation, for digital transformation. A little bit different, the two of them, I would say Quicken focus is very much on the customer experience and LoanDepot focuses a balance between loan experience, borrower experience and the back inefficiencies. And this is consistent with some of the initiatives we have here at NFM, so I find that what we’re seeing from the leaders is vindicating our decisions of how we proceed here.

Greg Sher: Real quick before we say goodbye, and I appreciate your time, let’s talk about the MBA, the Mortgage Bankers Association. You’ve been affiliated with that for so many years, NFM has had an affiliation now going on a handful of years and it’s very impactful for us, we really love the relationships that we’ve been able to build and, just talk about what it feels like to be a part of such a movement and such a cohesive group of mortgage professionals in one place.

Christos Bettios: This was a very successful event for the MBA, as you know I’m part of the mortgage standards industry, I’m in the governors committee of the MBA for the standard, so I’ve always been involved. But I think the MBA has done an amazing job here, there was a great session in this where our director Molveno was up there and the MBA was actually pushing the issues that we care, including NFM, when I say we. A low compensation issues, they handed them the paper. So I think the MBA was doing a great job, you know, positioning the interest of the mortgage community here with the real players in our industry.

Greg Sher: Well Christos, as always, thank you for your time, really appreciate it.

Christos Bettios: Well thank you Greg for having me, I enjoyed it.

Greg Sher: All right, Christos Bettios our CIO, we’re really lucky to have him here at NFM Lending and if you wanna check out some more of our material from NFM TV, you can go to nfmtv.com, we look forward to seeing you again soon, so long.

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