Employment Ideas for Laid Off Mortgage Workers

Current estimates project the number of mortgage industry workers that will lose their jobs to be 100,000 or more. Here are some job hunting ideas for those resilient folks who love mortgage lending and want to ride out the storm by making a lateral move within the industry.

Consider looking deeper into the big three information service companies (we use to call them the title insurance companies: Firstam, Fidelity, Landam) and check out all the job openings in your state.

[photopress:fired_1_2.jpg,thumb,alignright]If you are an underwriter, consider becoming an independent mortgage compliance consultant. You can help existing mortgage firms move up a notch with training and compliance. But that would mean you will actually have to talk with retail mortgage salespeople and pretend like you are enjoying the conversation. This would be a daily thing and requires your blood pressure and HDL/LDL cholesterol readings to be at or within a healthy range or, alternatively, you should prepare to show an active prescription for Lipitor. If you can’t stomach working directly with retail mortgage salespeople, then consider a position in auditing and compliance at a major bank or lender in your hometown. Someone will have to help write and enforce the ever-changing tighter lending guidelines. However, your real talent may be of use as an independent expert witness for law firms in mortgage broker and shareholder lawsuits. Underwriters, don’t leave the business. We need you now more than ever. Besides, who’s going to help re-assess the risk on all those collateralized debt obligations? Nobody knows what anything is worth right now. You ought to be cashing in on those jobs.

If you are a loan processor, consider joining an independent contract processing company, or forming your own company. If you are a really good loan processor, consider becoming a retail mortgage salesperson yourself. The very best loan originators start out as processors. You will be better than the competition in your hometown because of your knowledge in state and federal laws governing mortgage lending. Trust me on this.

If you were an entry-level worker, such as an assistant or receptionist, you might seek employment as an assistant to a top-producing retail mortgage salesperson or real estate agent. Title companies routinely hire entry-level folks and a background in lending will help. In fact, you might even know more about title insurance than some of the sales reps. If you’re good looking, and by that I mean “hot,” consider a job as a title rep. Am I being too cynical? I don’t think so. But maybe title isn’t the place for you. If you have masochistic tendencies, perhaps escrow is more up your alley.

Traditionally, when the retail side of lending turns soft, jobs open up on the other side; the dark side of mortgage lending. Consider job openings with trustee service companies (these are the companies that help lenders foreclosure), or check out opportunities for jobs in the foreclosure and loss mitigation divisions of local banks and loan servicing companies. Also, there are bound to be job openings for default counselors with non-profit associations. Start by going to HUD.gov, click on the link “talk to a housing counselor

Move Along…

[photopress:selling_peaches.jpg,full,alignright]Thanks to both Ardell and Joel, I’ve been tapped to list five things you may not know about me… Not sure where to start, I decided to focus today’s theme on some fun jobs (but I won’t go so far as to take you back to the days of selling fruit on the streets of LA! LOL):

1) At 16 years old, I spent the summer working as an ice cream scooper at a Haagen Dazs shop in Paris. At the time (early 90s), Haagen Dazs was all the rage in Europe, so it felt like I was in the center of the universe. Needless to say, I learned a lot working around a bunch of older (early 20s!) Parisian models for a summer, although my French never got very good because all the girls wanted to learn to speak “American” as oppose to their school-taught “English”. One of the highlights (that I can discuss in a real estate blog) was blasting Nirvana on the shops speakers (loud!) after-hours while closing the shop down. At the time, Nirvana’s Nevermind album had not yet been released in Europe (at least everyone around acted like it had not!), so having a copy turned out to be a HUGE hit.

2) The next career arc came during my UC Santa Cruz years when I was studying Environmental Studies… At 19, I drove to Alaska to work for consumer interesting group, AKPirg, in order campaign for “Campaign Finance Reform”. (I find it more than mildly amusing that 10 years later, their lead issue is still campaign finance reform.) While raising money and making a big fuss about all things political and environmental, I was getting paid to travel around the state and made many national park stops! Grizzlies in Denali, hiking under glaciers in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and that long, long, long Alaskan highway are all unforgettable experiences… I guess I wasn’t so bad at raising money for causes, because later in the summer I was asked to work for the USPirg office in Chapel Hill and was given the hilarious opportunity to canvass Jesse Helms in an effort to get him to join the Sierra Club! I guess I don’t have Bono’s magnetism, because despite a good 15 minute conversation, I couldn’t get him to join up for even the basic membership! 🙁

3) At 22, while studying Engineering at UC Berkeley, I decided to spend a summer working as a student-researcher for the Pavement Research Center. Believe it or not, this was a fascinating job that brought me up and down (and up and down) the state taking samples from test pavements in order to see the effects of some experimental pavement mixtures under different conditions. The pavement job was really good to me (financially), so I was able to stash some cash away for the school year and still take my girlfriend, Anna, on a cross-country trip via drive-away cars for the last few weeks before school started.

Our first assignment was to drive a car to Charlotte, NC (from Berkeley, CA) and we took I-40 almost all the way. Some of our stops including an evening in Las Vegas, a day on Lake Mead, hiking around the Grand Canyon, wondering in Santa Fe, eating huge steaks in Oklahoma City, dancing (and more dancing) at Elvis Week in Memphis, visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, and shopping in Atlanta. For the return trip, we took the northern route (roughly I-80) with stops along the backroads of West Virginia (just in time to watch Bill Clinton give his famous mea culpa speech at our hotel room), a county fair in Kentucky, a Second City performance in Chicago, the Iowa State Fair, an evening in Boulder, CO, a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and a hike on the Great Salt Lake. The kicker is that we did all of this in just a little over two weeks!

4) After graduating from Berkeley, I spent the first seven years of my professional career as a planner/engineer for a transportation consulting firm. This was interesting work in that I got to spend a lot of time working with local government officials to improve their transportation, and in particular their transit, systems. I worked all over the west coast for clients like BART, SF MUNI, SCAG, MAG, Portland’s Metro, and King County Metro, Sound Transit, WSDOT and the City of Seattle and became somewhat of an expert in travel demand modeling and GIS. Despite lots of good opportunities ahead (transportation in every American city will get worse before it gets better!), I knew it was time to look for new opportunities when Rain City Guide started to take off…

5) About eight months ago, I jumped off the engineering bridge and went to work for Move. One of the things I’ve learned is that while the technology (or secret sauce) behind large websites can be complex, it is the business development and marketing opportunities that most interest me. Hence, about a month ago, I switched out of our product development team and into our marketing team (although things are never that simple… :)). Probably the best news (at least for me) is that this switch means I’ll be able to come out of my dark cave and blog a bit more during the next year!

No perpetuation of memes from me! 🙂

Embracing Seattle’s New Urbanism

As a longtime resident, I’m used to watching the Puget Sound area go through continual growth spurts as development and demographics change. I get lost in my hometown of Port Orchard spurting for the last 45 years as steady as the whales in Sinclair Inlet.

In spite of economic ups and downs, the NW is never stagnant and the next 10 years will hardly be an exception. And now there is another new trend as the babyboomers are seeking new lifestyles, all the while the NW economy is projected to add 50,000 new jobs by the year 2024. This new lifestyle and economy is fueling a new change as Seattle, the Queen of the NW cities embraces it’s new urbanism.


Seattle will continue to change it’s skyline as a projected 10,000 new condominium units will be built over the next 5 years, ranging in price from the $200,000’s to more than 5 million. Here is the skyline as it will be affected by projects currently in the pipeline.

[photopress:Skyline_1.jpg,thumb,alignright]Always living in the eye of this growth hurricane, I try to stay open to predictions especially when these 10,000 units are already on the drawing boards. (Remember when East Lake Sammamish was only summer cottages, and the only thing you did in Issaquah was stop for a burger before hitting the slopes?)

But still I pause skeptically when I see plans for the immediate future in development like those planned for downtown Seattle. With only 55,000 people currently living in downtown Seattle, will changing demographics fill all of these new units? And where will the people come from?

Dean Jones, President and CEO of Real Logics speaking at a panel discussion regarding Seattle’s New Urbanism in June, believes there is a pent up demand for these new units and that about 2200 units per year can be absorbed, likely more than can be built possibly causing more demand than supply.

This pent up demand, Jones believes, is coming from 4 main sources: up to 1/2 from empty nesters; in city professionals; in city homeowners; and a minor segment of investors. According to architect Blaine Weber, a major driver of this demand for in city living is that people are seeking a new lifestyle. Living in the city can be a more carefree, healthy lifestyle as people step out of their building and walk a few blocks to work. ‘With addition of new pedestrian walkways and multi-modal transit opportunities, Seattle can become a 24-7 hub.’ Personally, I think that rising gas prices also make people rethink their life style alternatives and move closer to work centers and mass transit.

It’s interesting to wonder, then, what will happen to the housing being left behind by the empty nesters. In fact, some suggest that a sufficient inventory of single family detached housing already exists to supply demand for the next 20 years. Christopher Lineberger of the Brookings institute believes that all net new inventory will be attached single family homes in intensely urban settings again reflecting the desire of up to 50% of the public to live in a carefree environment with ‘walkable urbanity.

New urbanism is showing up outside of Seattle, too as planned developments are changing the waterfronts of Bremerton, Tacoma and communities like Dupont, Issaqauh Highlands, Snoqualmie Ridge and Redmond Ridge have been winners with buyers in the last 5-10 years. On the Tacoma waterfront there is a new 800 unit planned community that will be car-less with mixed use waterfront, according to the ‘Queen of Condos’ in Tacoma, Gema Powers. This appeals to my love for walking to Starbucks and the grocery store.

I’ve always thought I’d try out downtown living, especially since it’s where LTD Properties and Real Estate is located. I worry though about the lack of lawn and trees that’s you’d forgo in a high rise, and where would my husband restore his old Mustang that takes up half our garage? On the other hand, no more pulling weeks and repainting the house. I guess there’s pros and cons to all life styles, but at least we have enough alternatives that we can choose our own. It all sounds so appealing that maybe I’ll try out everything for 2 years at a time, but of course, when there are two and one doesn’t like change, I’ll have to live vicariously from friends as they embrace this new urbanism!