Magazine article Mortgage Banking

From Natchez to Mobile, Newport to ... Providence? (on the Road)

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

From Natchez to Mobile, Newport to ... Providence? (on the Road)

Article excerpt

MENTIONING NEWPORT, RHODE Island, always seems to put a dreamy smile on the faces of those who know its famous mansions, quaint colonial streets and alluring nautical ambiance. These charming characteristics seem to be one reason why the annual New England Mortgage Banking Conference (NEMBC) draws a consistently large turnout. But according to many attendees at this year's event, limited space for trade exhibitors and overnight stays in Newport may force sponsors to hold the September event elsewhere. Some say it is already headed to the nearby city of Providence for 2003, unless Susan Zuber and her Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association (organizers of the annual conference) can come up with a clever alternative.

Word from Alliance Funding, Orangeburg, New York, a division of troubled Superior Bank, New York City, is that a new owner could be on board by the end of November. Although shy about using his name, an Alliance representative staffing the company's trade booth at the New England conference in Newport said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is eager to end its interim supervision of the parent bank, which has been accused of poor accounting practices and making bad loans. The new buyer might be an "insurance company or Wall Street firm," said the staffer, who speculated that the highly successful origination and servicing operations of Alliance would be packaged together for separate sale to a new owner.

Tim Cummings, vice president and regional sales manager in Fiserv's Lake Mary, Florida, office, lamented during an NEMBC conference reception in the opulent Rosecliff Mansion that even in strong production years like this one, new technology is not an easy sell to mortgage companies, swamped as they are with business. "Now they're too busy to think about replacing their old systems--but when business is slow, then they don't want to invest the capital," Cummings said, noting the irony with a shrug and hands upturned as if to say, "You can't win."

As a regional event, the NEMBC drew most of its 2,000 attendees this year from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island--all near enough for driving. For those farther away who flew in, there was no shortage of interest or anecdotes about air travel, with the conference coming only days after the air terrorism disasters of Sept. 11. Long security delays at airports and empty planes were two of the more common findings among fliers. Tim Bartek, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Integra Software Systems, Brookeville, Maryland, said he was one of only eight passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight. And according to another show attendee, a small airport in Columbia, South Carolina, implemented such tight security that he had to abandon his rental car at the airport perimeter. And one conferencegoer from Frederick, Maryland, said that after calculating how long it would take to fly--factoring in security delays, actual travel time and getting to Newport from an airport--he decided to drive the eight hours instead. However, his mathematical debate might have been less meaningful than the concerns of his wife, whom he described as "very nervous about me flying here."

Matt Carrick, analyst, financial services, with Gomez Advisors, Waltham, Massachusetts, brought some real-life numbers to the often pie-in-the-sky discussion of online originations. …

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