Reading is one of my many passions. In fact, I’ve read at least two books a month since I was 18 years old. Over the years, as I’ve become more and more involved in the machinations and intricacies of the business world, my appetite for books has become split ─ or rather, balanced ─ between reading for simple pleasure and reading to keep myself abreast of the latest that’s being written about, and for, the business community.
One of my favorite authors for pleasure reading is C.S. Lewis, the acclaimed Irish writer best known for The Chronicles of Narnia series. His writings have a unique inspirational quality that can challenge your intellect and raise your spirit.
My favorite quote from Lewis is “There is no evil, only good corrupted,” which comes from his work, Mere Christianity.
How could this statement relate to the mortgage business, you might ask? Well, take the mortgage crisis of 2007 for instance; it’s not hard to make the connection.
Back then, there were many policies and benevolent industry people who were dead-set on helping potential buyers own a home. Despite any noble intentions, the result was nothing less than “good corrupted.”
So, when did the lines become blurred?
Did it all start with Wall Street and “stated income” loans? Maybe it was the mortgage companies, when they decided that “if you could sell a loan, it must be a good one”?
I don’t presume to know all the answers, but I can tell you that many participated in a system that failed to work in the consumer’s long-term, best-interest ─ and ultimately, in the long-term, best-interest of the financial system.
What will stop us from falling into such a trap again? Almost certainly, it’ll be a combination of experience, regulatory oversight and individual accountability. For starters, consumers must never sign a contract that they can’t financially manage, especially when rolling the dice in hopes of seeing the home appreciate in value. Basing a decision on that type of bet is one risky gamble. And it’s a lesson that we all learned, so painfully, during the mortgage crisis.
For mortgage professionals, we must balance the pressures of referral partners and consumers against the long-term decision to underwrite the credit and capacity of the borrower. While it may sound simple or easy, it’s not. Also, be part of a greater America that views homeownership as a unique and amazing gift ─ a gift to be managed with great care ─ an America where our families are raised and our communities develop together as a society.
As loanDepot Chairman and CEO Anthony Hsieh has said, “Now is the time to define, shape and lead the industry in a way that only comes along once on a lifetime.”
To all of you who have made this industry your passion and profession, I encourage you to take Anthony’s words to heart. In doing so, continue to hold fast to values of the highest caliber ─ and never stop providing sound, ethical counsel to the consumers who we ultimately serve.