Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Standing Up for the Smaller Lenders

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Standing Up for the Smaller Lenders

Article excerpt

Working as a banker, broker and mortgage lender since 1980, Joe Adamaitis has owned his own mortgage company in New York, worked for a credit union in New Hampshire and spent time at Wells Fargo. Currently, he is the branch manager for Academy Mortgage, a private lender with offices in 48 states. He is the new president of the Gulf Coast Mortgage Bankers Association, which works for the improvement of the mortgage banking industry. Adamaitis came to Sarasota in 2005, just when the business changed. "I never had a clue that this was 'ground zero' of the mortgage crisis," he says with a smile.

Correspondent Chris Angermann talked to him about the current state of the mortgage business.

Q:Weren't you one of the first to warn against 'no- documentation' mortgages?

A:Yes. My son, who was working at my company at the time, came into my office and said, "Hey, Dad, do you realize that we don't have to get a paystub or W-2 anymore?" He showed me the new guidelines, and I said, "This is crazy." I knew about no-doc loans. They were for self-employed people, but they were well-structured -- 25 percent down, 720 (FICO) credit scores -- and all you had to show was what you earned. The folks getting those mortgages never defaulted because they put money into the game.

Then lenders took the original model and went all the way to zero- percent down. They got greedy and gave no-doc loans to everybody. I always marveled that privately owned and institutional lenders have been around for 100 years, and it took just 36 months to destroy the entire industry.

Q:You don't like big banks much. Why is that?

A:Banks have their place, and I love the smaller regional guys, the BB&Ts of the world. But I'm not a fan of the big boys. They do a terrible job. They have every financial tool in the world, but they can't close a loan. They're centralized and overwhelmed with customers. They have "quiet time" now, from 8 a.m. to noon, when you can't talk to them. Most of the big banks are that way -- you can't pick up the phone and talk to an underwriter if you need an answer.

I just did a standard VA loan for a couple. The husband had served with the military. …

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