This week’s HW+ spotlight features Mark Jones, co-founder and CEO at Amerifirst Home Mortgage. Jones was also recently installed as vice chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association for the 2022 membership year.
Launching the company as an independent community lender in 1983, Jones has grown Amerifirst Home Mortgage to more than 80 full-service locations and 900 personnel nationwide. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the MBA and currently serves as chair of MBA’s Audit and Finance Committee.
Below, Jones answers questions about the industry:
HousingWire: To start off, what is your current favorite HW+ article?
Mark Jones: My favorite HW+ article was this year’s edition of Rising Stars. My son Matt is featured in it for his work on Capitol Hill, and I’m so proud to see him carving his own niche in the housing world. Proud father moment!
HousingWire: What is the biggest learning opportunity you’ve ever had?
Mark Jones: The 2008 financial crisis. In the lead up to the crash, we could tell that something wasn’t quite right. As such, we were one of the few lenders in the country that refused to offer subprime loans. At the time, that decision cost us loan officers left and right as they departed for firms that would let them originate anything they wanted. It was rough. In the end, however, after the crash happened and the dust settled, we were one of the only shops left standing. That’s when we made our separating move, picked up the pieces from companies that had collapsed, and began our ascent toward where we’re at today, with 1,000 employees operating in twenty states.
The learning from that era: when you are committed to doing business the right way, doing right by the consumer, and following a strong ethical compass, you will survive through the market cycle and succeed in this business. Our company has been through six major market cycles now, and that remains true to this day.
HousingWire: What do you think will be the big themes for the housing market in 2022?
Mark Jones: In the mortgage market, margin compression will be the story of the year. An industry that is now built to originate $5 trillion will be chasing after only $3 trillion. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, interest rates are marching north, and refinance volume is going to dry up. All of this is going to mean a far more competitive environment and added stress, especially on firms that are focused on refinance business that only know how to compete on interest rate and/or don’t have adequate liquidity and reserves.
The other theme is housing affordability. In most markets in America today, homebuilders can’t profitably construct starter homes that are affordable for most first-time homebuyers. Fortunately, we are seeing a newfound willingness by the Biden Administration to lean in aggressively on this issue and provide some much-needed help.
HousingWire: If you could change or implement one piece of housing regulation, what would it be and why?
Mark Jones: FHA needs to slash its Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) and end life-of-loan insurance coverage. This is a huge tool the federal government can use to stimulate access to homeownership in underserved communities, and as we speak, FHA is priced way out of the market while sitting on top of capital reserves that vastly exceed what is required by statute and even what most banks would be required to hold.
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