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Following the “Freddie Mac Today” Panel at the 2018 NAWRB Conference, which offered valuable information on opportunities for homebuyers and businesses, the “Knowing Your Partners, Financial Support and Legal Community” Panel, including Sarah Goldfrank, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Fannie Mae; Alexander Almazan, Attorney, Almazan Law; Mark Ferguson, Deputy District Director, Illinois District Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); and Desiree Patno, CEO & President, NAWRB, continued to educate our audience about the power of knowing your customers, market and legal community for ensuring the success of their business.
Sarah Goldfrank started the conversation with her motto “KYS,” or “Know Your Stuff.” The theme of the conference has been the importance of knowledge for success in the industry and it is no different for the single family mortgage business. She shares that her focus is on three things: knowing your customer, market outlook and the legal community. Making sure that one is informed in each of these areas will help real estate finance professionals navigate the changing economy.
According to Goldfrank, the economy will soon be affected by an increase in home prices and decrease in the number of customers, which will likely cause lending to shrink with the smaller market. With this in mind, it is crucial for business owners to consider their long-term business plan. She recommends investing in customer service and technology, as well as focusing on affordable housing to stay ahead.
She also highlights the importance of the recent California Consumer Privacy Act, which requires businesses to respond to inquiries from customers and vendors about their information. This law matters for small businesses, too, as consumers will ask what data we have on them and make sure we’re complying with the law. Goldfrank predicts this will drastically change consumer relations, and will create an intersection between blockchain and privacy laws.
Alex Almazan, a son of Cuban immigrants and father of young girls, comes from Miami and is a part of the Miami Association of Realtors. He shares with the audience that “knowing your partnerships and knowing your partners” is critical for success, especially for minorities. Leveraging partnerships and relationships, especially with the legal community and local trade groups, and having financial support will be necessary to compete within the changing legal and real estate landscape. As he articulates, “Knowing your lawyer is just as important as knowing who your bank is.”
Mark Ferguson gave lesser known tidbits about the SBA that real estate professionals and small businesses should take advantage of, including the SBA Cap Loan Program, which offers $5 million line of credit at a 75 percent guarantee for flipping house opportunities with a five-year commitment. The United States spends about $550 billion a year for goods and services, and 4 percent of that is set aside for women-owned businesses.
Throughout his career, the greatest lesson Ferguson learned has been the value of relationships and connections. “If you relate to people, they will value you,” he states. A good team needs to be accountable for each other to deliver quality services that help others. Respecting others is how you gain and maintain relationships, which is why he suggests that industry professionals do not chase money or people. On a similar note, Almazan recommends that businesses become comfortable with “letting customers under the hood of [their] business” by being transparent about their operations, as well as leveraging partnerships and technologies in a way that helps rather than hurts them.