Veterans Day Feature: Bryant Lewin

In honor of Veterans Day 2015, we feel it proper to shine a light on those that have served in the Armed Forces and thank them for all their hard work, duty, and perseverance through times of adversity. At MMCD, we also feel it best to highlight our own employees that have put their lives on the line in order to protect our brave nation. A wide array of our employees, from our Recruiter all the way up to our Chairman have been members of the U.S. military, and we are proud to call them our colleagues.

One of our Veterans that we would like to point out in particular is Bryant Lewin, who served for the U.S. Army from 1963-1984. In the hopes of paying tribute to all of our country’s Veterans, we sat down and spoke with Bryant about his time in the military and his transition into 9 to 5 work after his retirement. In this way, we can receive the account of just one of the many journeys courageous men and women have endeavored to get to where they are and how said journey molded their human foundation. It was enlightening to discuss everything, from the incidental anecdotes to the disciplined attributes that shaped the man who he is today.

Bryant began his military career when he decided to leave his hometown of Perham, Maine because he wanted to “do something more than exist.” Bryant was searching for a purpose, something he could call his own. This was the notion that drove him to hitchhike 17 miles to the nearest Recruiting/Retention Center wherein he chose the first option made available to him: the U.S. Army. Thereafter, Bryant served 8 years of his time as part of the Army Security Agency, being promoted to Staff Sergeant after only 3 years. When in the Security Agency, Bryant mastered the art of innovation dealing with Radio Direction Finding equipment.

Bryant learning to use the Radio Direction Finding equipment.
Bryant learning to use the Radio Direction Finding equipment.

When asked of a time he could remember he most had to think on his feet and come up with a quick alternative solution, he relayed to us a time when he was abroad in the woods of Germany partaking in “war games” with his comrades and was forced to use the spring mechanism from a ballpoint pen to temporarily repair a radio teletype. This happened just in time for the crew to signal a full-service repairman to mend the broken radio system. Without his outside-the-box thinking, Bryant and his crew would have been stranded without signal services for quite some time. Bryant went on to say that, in the military, “you think out of the box for so long that you soon realize there is no box.”

Taking initiative in situations such as these is only one of the facets of Bryant’s now fundamental personality that was influenced by his role as an active-duty serviceman. He also learned to truly trust his gut, which, in effect, taught him self-esteem and -assurance. His philosophy behind this is: “It’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.” This mantra is something he then applied to his next 7 years in the service wherein he was a member of the Signal Corps. With each passing chapter, Bryant became more adept at honing the skills he would later need in life.

The last 6 years of his Army career led him to being an Army Recruiter, which he says gave him the “paper skills” required to enter the real world after his retirement. This proved to be a sagacious move on Bryant’s part because in 2005 he was brought on to the MMCD team by his friend and colleague, San Ramon Branch Manager Brian Linchey. Over time, Bryant’s duties evolved from strictly being a Closing Manager to State Licensing, supporting our Control and Compliance Departments, gathering information and reporting on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), and becoming the self-proclaimed “Resident Handyman” of our Home Office. That last moniker entails his being the “Key Holder” of our Lock Desk Department, as well as taking on file retention and retrieval if need be. Clearly, based upon the aforementioned, we could not get by without him!

Bryant, we want to thank you so much for all of the work that you do for us, but, most importantly, we want to thank you for your time served in the Army. It is evident to us that your 21 years in the military has made you the man you are today: intelligent, tenacious, dedicated, and an overall upstanding individual.

Bryant also made it very clear that being a member of the U.S. Military is a collaborative effort across all branches and officers. So, in that regard, we would also like to thank:

Chairman Herb Tasker – U.S. Navy

EVP of Production Bill Simpson – U.S. Air Force

EVP of Operations Kevin Conlon – U.S. Army

Lock Desk & Secondary Marketing Man Stephen Swantkowski – U.S. Navy

Recruiter Christopher Bailey – U.S. Air Force

San Ramon Branch Loan Officer Mike Kammermeyer – U.S. Army

For your exemplary service to the country. Like Bryant, we would also not be the company we are today without you, and we also know that each of your time in the military has shaped who you are today.

Moreover, although we take today to honor those selfless enough to protect, it is of the utmost importance that we thank our servicemen and -women every day they put their lives on the line for the greater good. We would like to thank all of our Veterans for relentlessly sacrificing their own needs for the needs of others, the needs of the nation. Without You, there would be no Us.

Veterans, thank you for all that you do. You are our heroes.

99 Homes: A Film Review on the History of the Mortgage Crisis

99 Homes film poster99 Homes, the latest film by Ramin Bahrani, is a captivating examination of the personal devastation of the lives of homeowners during the economic recession of 2008. Even the hardest of workers could not escape eviction from their homes as properties were turned over to the banks. “How did this happen?” many asked themselves as they lost their jobs, income, and spirit. The reason this large-scale event overtook the nation was due to a combination of factors. The extending of credit to sub prime consumers who took advantage of relaxed lending conditions. Greed of unscrupulous lenders creating poorly composed loan and mortgage agreements that left the homeowner unprotected. And Big Banks who bet on these sub prime mortgages.

Although somewhat melodramatic in its storytelling, Bahrani’s film does touch on the most significant aspect of the recession—that of the human condition. While the U.S. was consumed with capital gain and status, it lost sight of the victims. 99 Homes poetically depicts the foreclosures of homes that were once inhabited by people from all walks of life, all of them now left without a home and with few prospects. This reminder of a tumultuous time in the U.S. serves as a harsh warning to the financial industry that history not repeat itself.

The film is an excellent reminder for those that work in the mortgage industry that we are dealing with people, not just names and numbers on documents. There is a reason why MMCD didn’t falter when the economy did back in 2008. We have always focused on our clients’ needs, which is why we do things precisely by the book when it comes to our mortgage agreements. No loopholes, no added stipulations—just borrowers achieving the dream of homeownership. 99 Homes comes as at a perfect time to remind us that our clients are the reason why we love to do what we do.

Every Loan Officer IS Their Brand

While other lenders try to force Loan Officers to lessen their Social Media and Website presence, in essence their brand, we at MMCD encourage it. Don’t get me wrong; I can understand why some Lenders take this approach and their reasons behind it. To put it simply it is due to some of the ridiculous regulations facing our industry and it is easier to force everyone into a tight box rather than to manage their individual brands.  However, I feel there is balance that can be achieved with proper understanding and tools to manage them effectively.

The problem with forcing Loan Officers to water down their brand to fit into your own box is that all Loan Officers are not created equal. Their market, their customers, their workflow, and their branding will all be unique. Their creativity and marketing success will never truly have a chance to flourish in a “one size fits all” environment.  This can also result in the Loan Officers not being able to stay up to date with current trends in technology, especially in regards to Social Media Marketing.

The last thing you want as a lender is for your Loan Officers to be behind the competition, which can result in them being less successful.  Loan Officers are the lifeblood of a mortgage lender and without their success we are all going home to do something else.  That is why MMCD’s Prime Services Group’s mission statement is “To put every Loan Officer in the best possible position to succeed.” In my opinion, encouraging our Loan Officer’s branding and creativity using a process based on balance, is a recipe for marketing success. A true “win” for everyone.

Jason C. Frazier
Chief Information Officer

To learn more about Mason-McDuffie Mortgage’s Prime Services Group, CLICK HERE

To learn more about Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, please CLICK HERE

GDP Rises, but Consumer Spending Eases!

Featured Chart for Friday, November 8thMortgage Market Guide (

The first of three readings on 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product showed that the US economy expanded by 2.8%, up from the 2nd quarter reading of 2.5% and well above the 1.9% expected. The rise was due in part to a buildup in inventories, a pickup in trade and increased spending by state and local governments.

However, within the report, consumer spending, the main driver of the US economy, fell to a paltry 1.5% from 1.8%, the slowest rate in three years.

(Click image for a larger view)


Is Your Company Ready For QM?

Is your company ready for Qualified Mortgage (QM)?

“A ComplianceEase audit of lending data from over 400 banks confirms that more than one in five loans originated today are not in compliance with the current qualified mortgage definition.”

Read Full Article Here

Mason-McDuffie Mortgage is ready for QM (Qualified Mortgage) and ATR (Ability to Repay), in fact – so are our Loan Officers. Our audit has shown that only 1.5% of our loans fell outside of the QM standard, which was far better than the 20% mark shown with the other lenders. It’s important to know how your company will compare. Here at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, we are happy to already be positioned for success in originating loans that meet the QM standard. Our operations and compliance staff are production oriented while navigating the challenges of new regulations in our industry. As an originator it is important to know that you work on a platform of success in these ever changing times. So you must ask yourself, is your company is ready for QM? We are.

Call us today to learn more.

– Brian Moggan, EVP of Production


MBA: Stevens Calls for End to Government Shutdown

Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2013) – David H. Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), today issued the following statement in reaction to the government shutdown and its affect on the housing market.

“The federal government shutdown will have a growing impact on the housing market the longer it continues. If this shutdown is temporary, the ones affected most will be out of work federal employees. However the longer it goes, the greater impact it will have on borrowers, the housing market and the national economy.

“Lenders processing loans that need tax transcripts, social security number verification, or FHA home loans face longer delays and reduced functionality from HUD, IRS, and the Social Security Administration. Different loan programs have different requirements, and these disruptions impact lenders in different ways, leading to confusion and fear among borrowers about whether they will be able to close on a home purchase or refinance. There are significant impacts on multifamily lenders, as well. Rental housing properties awaiting FHA financing cannot move forward.

“The furloughs can disrupt time-sensitive mortgage transaction deals by interfering with borrower lock agreements and causing interest rate disparities from the time of closing to the time the loan is securitized.

“For these reasons there must be a resolution so that borrowers and lenders are able to return to business as usual.”

The Impact of the Government Shutdown on the Mortgage Process

Though the media and both political parties would like you to believe that there will be no immediate impact on American businesses, that isn’t exactly true for the Mortgage industry.

Here at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage we want to make sure that everyone understand exactly what the impact will be if you are currently in process for a Mortgage Loan or starting out the Loan Application process.

The Immediate Impact

Mortgage Lenders need to verify Social Security Numbers for all borrowers. Currently this is not possible due to the shutdown.

All loans that are in need of tax transcripts to continue processing or get final approval of your loans will be delayed until the shutdown is over.

The shutdown has caused the USDA offices to close.  This means that existing loans that have been submitted to USDA for review will be delayed until their offices reopen. This also means that Rural Housing’s GUS approval system will be unavailable. Finally, Rural Housing will not issue Loan Note Guarantees or issue any new commitments during this time.

HUD/FHA/VA should continue somewhat normally provided that the shutdown does not drag on too long. There will be some reduced functionality and possible delays due to limitations in staff.

Borrowers that have been furloughed and whose employment is directly affected by the Government shutdown can expect delays in processing and/or closing of their loans.

According to the MBA, “A shutdown lasting a few days would slightly inconvenience lenders in processing loans, however a longer delay would have more serious impacts. Purchase loan volume could shrink and impede the recovery of the housing market. Additionally, long-term furloughs may disrupt time-sensitive mortgage transaction deals by interfering with borrower lock agreements and causing interest rate disparities from the time of closing to the time the loan is securitized.”

You can read a detailed analysis of the government shutdown on the mortgage industry by following this link here.

We will keep our customers and business partners informed with any updates. We all hope that the Government Shutdown will be short lived and will be brought to a resolution soon.

– Mason-McDuffie Mortgage

1st MMCD Volunteer Day at the Oakland Zoo – Anne-Marie Hsieh

(Special thanks goes to Anne-Marie Hsieh for organizing and managing this whole process)

There was a small, but VERY MIGHTY group of us, blazing the trail for our 1st MMCD Volunteer Day at the Oakland Zoo on Saturday!!!!

A gigantic thank you to Danielle Danson (and her friend Amanda!), Brittany Christensen (who drove ONE HOUR to get there!) and Jim Black for putting on the red shirt and carving out some time to help out at the Zoo.

We met in the lower lot (free parking!), and divided up into groups based on the needs of the Zoo that day.

One group split off to rake leaves and general clean up around the Education Center – while we, the mighty MMCD Team hiked over to the Sun Bear habitat. We were provided with gloves, lopping shears – and started removing blackberry bushes!!! We learned that the Zoo uses no pesticides, therefore – all edible plants are fed to the animals. Apparently giraffes LOVE blackberries! Thorns and All. Whoa!

We had a break mid- morning and could go to the café for a free drink (2nd perk..lots to follow! ). We finished up around 1130 – and around 1145, the bear keeper led us “back stage” to see the bears up close in the enclosure where they sleep at night. The oldest of the 3 bears came from a sanctuary in Malaysia (where the bears are poached for their livers…or maybe it’s kidneys…) The younger girls were born at the San Diego Zoo to a mother who had also been rescued from Malaysia. They have caramel colored “bibs” on their chest which are unique to each bear, allowing them to be identified by people who can read bear spots!

After we saw the bears up close and personal, we walked up to the viewing area where we saw the bears run out and climb onto their perches where some tasty treats were set out for them – they started with corn on the cob!

They girls sleep in hammocks, get along fairly well, have a sense of smell at or better than a dog’s. They know their “routine”, and move easily into their enclosure when it’s bed time (I think the little biscuits they get helps!).  One of the challenges the Zoo keepers have is finding daily enrichment activities which doesn’t involve food.

Last month, the volunteer group was tasked with clearing stick from the elephant habitat. Nobody knows what next month will bring – it depends on the needs of the Zoo that day, and how many people show up.

We received discounts for our food – a free sky ride – AND when the ticket taker saw my Volunteer shirt – free train ride as well!

I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend my Saturday morning…as you can see from the pics – Daddy and the kiddos DID join – and had a ton of fun.

There was a lot of people who had expressed interest, but had scheduling conflicts etc…If you think you’d like to volunteer at another Oakland Zoo day – please let me know. Hands On Bay Area (HOBA) couldn’t have made it any easier – and I believe they lead a group at the Oakland Zoo once a month.

Removing blackberry bushes has never been so fun!!!!

Thank you again to our small but might MMCD Volunteer Team.

That morning will stay in my heart as a great day.

– Anne-Marie

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Award Winning Enterprise Social Network Powers Mason – McDuffie Mortgage’s Knowledge Sharing Culture

Mason-McDuffie Mortgage has successfully implemented their Bloomfire community as an internal knowledge sharing and collaboration tool. Bloomfire allows them to communicate in real-time across multiple time-zones. Mason – McDuffie Mortgage has seen a decrease in the amount of emails sent – instead their employees are engaging within their Bloomfire. It’s their ‘go-to’ for answers to their questions as well as their central collaboration hub. Please watch the below link to see our Executive Vice President, Jason C. Frazier, explain why we chose Bloomfire.


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