Mortgage Brokers Required To Pass National Test
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Kristian Foden-Vencil, of Oregon Public Broadcasting, reports how it's working there.
KRISTIAN FODEN: Unidentified Woman: Get out.
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FODEN: Oregon's one of 16 states that already had a mortgage broker test, but Kirsten Anderson, of Oregon's Division of Finance and Corporate Security, says in 2008, Congress passed the Safe Act and began phasing in a national exam.
KIRSTEN ANDERSON: Well, it's really meant to make sure that the person who's out talking to a consumer, understands how a mortgages works, understands how to evaluate what kind of mortgage would be best for each consumer.
FODEN: So nowadays, if you want to be a mortgage broker, you need four things: first, at least 20 hours of classes; second, a credit check - to make sure you yourself are financially responsible; third, a criminal background check; and finally, the written test.
ERIC WILEY: You know people are nervous. I was actually a little bit nervous too, not knowing what exactly to expect. Multiple choice questions can sometimes, you know, throw people.
FODEN: Eric Wiley has been in the industry for 15 years. He runs Pacific Residential Mortgage in Portland. And while he manages a staff of 120 employees, he still had to take the test.
WILEY: We've wanted, for a long time, the bar to be raised so that there's a minimum standard that has to be met to be able to serve customers the way we do.
FODEN: Down the hall at Pacific Residential, Todde Greenough, a nine year veteran, also just took the test. He was surprised by all the security. He says it made him realize just how seriously the government's taking things.
TODDE GREENOUGH: Everything but your driving license goes into a locker as you go in and you've got to digitally sign your signature. Then you've got to have your both palms scanned. Then you get to go into a back room and then you get your palms scanned again, and you're going in with only the stuff they give you, which is only a white board type of, you know, grease board type of thing and a little Casio calculator.
FODEN: Pete Marks, with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, says it does.
PETE MARKS: We know, as of the end of February, that 68 percent of the people who take the test pass it - the national component. And we know that 73 percent of the people that take the state component have passed it.
FODEN: Back at Pacific Residential, 65-year-old Ed Walunus is cramming for the exam. He's nervous, but his colleagues are encouraging.
ED WALUNUS: Basically, everybody I've talked to, and I've talked to a lot of people who've taken the test, they said the Oregon test is harder than the national test.
FODEN: For NPR News, I'm Kristian Foden-Vencil in Portland.
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