Washington State Loan Originator Licensing Update

[photopress:LOLicensing_1_2_3_4_5.jpg,thumb,alignright]As of November 14th we had roughly 15,000 loan originators who had received an interim license during the year 2007. These licenses expire on Dec 31, 2007 and license renewal is conditioned upon them passing their competency exam and completing two continuing education courses, one of which must be an ethics course. At the November 14th Mortgage Broker Commission meeting, we were told that out of 15,000 LOs, there were only about 5,000 who had taken their competency exam.

The new loan originator exam was introduced in June andthe exam candidates were given a 600-question study guide along with the answers to the test questions. The LO exam is 100 questions long and candidates must pass with a 70%. One to two percent of the students that attended my exam prep course had actually read the entire 600 question study guide. Less than half of one percent of the exam candidates that came through my classroom had read the state law to which they’re subject to, the Mortgage Broker Practices Act. The pass rate for the LO exam currently sits at 89%. This means the exam is too easy. For those that did not pass the first time, the second try pass rate for them was 71%.

As of December 19th, WA State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) reported that only 1,900 loan originators had renewed their license. At this point, we can try to project attrition numbers before the actual figures are released from the state which will likely be at the next Mortgage Broker Commission meeting, date TBD.

If there were 10,000 LOs who had not tested between mid November and now, and if we know that 1833 LOs are not physically located in WA state and could likely find a Promissor testing center near their city, then we’re left with 8,167 LOs that needed to take their exam before Dec 31st. I suppose if every testing center across the state was filled with exam candidates between Nov 14th and today, they all could have made it. I think not.

LOs were reporting up until mid December that many of the testing sites were not completely booked when they took their exam. I had been predicting LO attrition to be about 2,000 since the meltdown began. Now I believe we could see further LO attrition, up to 4,000. This will consist of LOs who haven’t closed a loan in many months and who have found other employment, LOs who were only originating subprime, LOs who have chosen to work for a retail bank or consumer loan lender not subject to licensing, LOs who were not able to pass the background, fingerprinting, and felony checks, and LOs who have just simply de-prioritized the licensing renewal requirements.

LOs who do not pass their exam, complete their two required courses, and renew their license online must stop originating (scroll down to numbers 18-22) at midnight on Dec 31, 2007 and transfer all files in process to their broker or another licensed loan originator. LOs will have 45 days to pass the exam and complete the required CE classes while originating NO loans. After Feb 14, 2008, if a LO has not passed the exam and completed his or her required CE, the interim license will expire and the LO will need to start the application process all over again from the beginning and must wait until their new license arrives from DFI before being able to do the job of, and earning fees from loan origination. There are no exceptions; not even one loan. New LOs entering the industry on Jan 1, 2008 may not originate until they pass their exam and receive their license from DFI.

I receive an interesting phone call from a student late Sunday afternoon. She was once again canceling her attendance at the Dec 31st ethics class, and for the third time, was asking me to move her into another class. I made sure she realized that if she didn’t finish up by midnight on Dec 31st that she would have to stop originating. Here’s what she said; “Oh, yeah, I know. I haven’t taken my test yet either. Can you put me into a Jan class please, and sorry to have to reschedule on you again.