Why Loan Originators Will Regret Missing the NMLS Uniform State Test Deadline

5 to 12 clockIf you are like most mortgage loan originators, you’ve questioned the value of taking the Stand-Alone Uniform State Test (UST). You’re probably thinking, “I originate in only one state and have no plans to expand. Why bother?” Based on the consequences, you should seriously reconsider.

It does make sense that you’d have these thoughts.  Not long ago, over 80% of the state-licensed MLOs had only one license. It just didn’t seem worth it to take the time to prepare for the test and pay more fees.

However, just because you only originate in one state doesn’t mean you always will. Here are the questions that you need to ask yourself:

–       What if something happens and my plans change?

–       What if I take a new position with a company that originates in multiple states?

–       What if I move? (Most people who live in Chicago are asking this question after 44 days of snow this winter!)

–       What if I decide not to take the Uniform State Test?

There are harsh consequences if you don’t register for the Stand-Alone UST before the deadline. Starting April 1, 2014, if you want to become licensed in any state that has adopted the UST, you won’t have a choice. You will be required to take a new National Test Component. This time, the National test will have 125 questions. Based on the failure rates, it wasn’t easy the first time and it isn’t any easier now. The safer play is to take the Stand-Alone UST. It’s only 25 questions. With some test prep, you should ace it and have no regrets.

Time is running out. All you need to do is open a test window by March 31, 2014. You don’t have to take the test by this date. You have up to 180 days after you open the test window. Don’t miss this opportunity. The reality is that 39 state regulators have already adopted the UST, and more will follow suit. If there’s a chance that you might do business in another state, register for the test.

Once you pass, you can relax and let the chips fall where they may. If you move or want to expand your business, you’ll be one step closer to satisfying that state’s requirements.

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Real Estate Institute has helped thousands of licensees pass their exams. Click here to learn more about Stand-Alone UST test prep.  A new National Test Component prep program is also available. It has been updated based on the 2014 NMLS Content Outline and includes the 2014 rule changes. Try our free online practice tests.

Click here to register for the Stand-Alone UST with the NMLS. You must schedule your test with Prometric.

NMLS Rolls Out Uniform State Test

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) has announced that the Uniform State Test (UST) will be available for enrollment beginning 4/1/2013.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the goal of the UST is to eliminate the need for Mortgage Loan Originators to take two tests to obtain a license under any state regulatory agency that adopts the UST program.  Although we’ve known for a year now that the NMLS was planning this initiative to streamline the licensing process (and save states the time and money involved in maintaining their own individual tests), the details have just recently become available.  Here are the critical ones you need to know:

WHICH STATE AGENCIES ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE UNIFORM STATE TEST PROGRAM?

As of this writing, the following state regulatory agencies have signed on to the UST program effective on the following dates.

State agencies allowing test enrollments beginning 4/1/2013:

Delaware New Hampshire
Georgia North Carolina
Idaho North Dakota
Indiana Department of Financial Institutions* Pennsylvania
Iowa Rhode Island
Kentucky South Dakota
Louisiana Utah Department of Financial Institutions*
Maryland Virginia
Massachusetts Washington
Michigan Wisconsin

*NOTE: Indiana Secretary of State and Utah Department of Real Estate have not elected to participate in the UST program at this time.  Licensees applying to these agencies will still be required to pass a State Component Test in order to become licensed.

Agencies allowing test enrollments beginning 7/1/2013:

Alaska
Kansas
Nebraska
Vermont

The NMLS will add agencies to this list as they sign on to the UST program.  An up-to-date list can be found by going to the NMLS Resource Center and following the links on the right-hand side of the page.

WHAT IF MY STATE AGENCY WAS NOT LISTED?

If you wish to become licensed by a state agency that has not adopted the UST, you must continue to take their State Specific Component Test. If you will be taking the National Compnent Test on or after 4/1/2013, your National Component Test will include the UST.  However, the required State Specific Component Test (for a state agency that has not adopted the UST) will need to be taken separately in order to become licensed by that state agency.

HOW DO I ENROLL FOR THE UNIFORM STATE TEST, AND WHAT IS THE FORMAT?

There is no way to enroll for the Uniform State Test until 4/1/2013.  Once that date has arrived, you will open a testing window by enrolling through the NMLS system as you would any other test.  To my surprise, the NMLS did elect to offer the UST as a stand-alone test for those who have already passed the National Test Component.  Enrollment for the stand-alone UST will only be available for the one-year period running 4/1/2013 – 3/31/2014.  After that time, any individual who has not passed some version of the UST (either the stand-alone or the National Test Component with UST) will have to enroll for (and pass) the National Test Component with UST if they want to obtain a license from any state regulatory agency that has adopted the UST.

The cost to take just the UST (which will consist of 25 questions, all of which are scored) will be $33.00.  The questions will NOT be state-specific, but rather will relate to topics that are fairly uniform across all states; many will be based off of the SAFE Act model state law created in 2008.  The full text of that law in PDF format can be found here.  If you’d like to look at the UST content outline from the NMLS, click this link.

WHAT IF I’VE ALREADY PASSED A STATE TEST IN ONE OF THE STATES LISTED?

You will continue to be able to do business as usual.  You will not need to take the UST, unless you wish to obtain a license from one of the state agencies that have adopted the UST program after the exam becomes available.

WHAT IF I’M CURRENTLY SCHEDULED TO TAKE A TEST OR HAVE AN OPEN ENROLLMENT WINDOW?

If you’re currently scheduled to take a test, or have an open enrollment window to schedule a test, you will need to take the test as-scheduled and before the end of your enrollment window or you will lose the funds you have paid to open that enrollment window.  Failure to show for a scheduled exam will also close the enrollment window.  There is no way to switch an enrollment window from a State Specific Component Test to the UST once that enrollment window has been opened and during the time it remains open.

WHAT IF I NEED TO TAKE THE NATIONAL TEST COMPONENT?

After 4/1/2013, all NEW enrollments for the National Test Component will include the UST.   The National Test Component with UST will consist of 125 questions, 115 of which will be scored. There will not be an option to take the National Test Component without the UST.  The price for all National Test Component enrollment windows opened on or after 4/1/2013 will increase to $110.

All enrollment windows for the National Test Component opened prior to 4/1/2013 will be for the existing National exam and will not include the UST.  The cost for this will remain at $92.

Until 4/1/2013, there will be no way to open an enrollment window for the National Test Component with UST.  After 4/1/2013, there will be no way to open an enrollment window for the National Test Component without the UST.  The existing National Test Component will be administered until the last enrollment window closes.

WHERE DO I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

All pertinent information relating to the UST can be found at the  NMLS Resource Center under the TESTING tab.  You can locate the UST Implementation Information page from there.

Real Estate Institute offers UST exam prep programs. Free practice tests are also available.

Happy originating!

Striking Results – How You Study Really Does Matter

Pass The ExamIn case you missed the recent article in the New York Times and the research published online in the journal Science, both discussed important findings about adult learning.  According to the New York Times, “students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.”  Those other methods were reading the passage multiple times and making detailed notes and diagrams. 

According to the Times, many cognitive scientists and educators found these research results striking. Marcia Linn, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told the newspaper that students who take tests as part of their studying process ”recognize some gaps in their knowledge” and “might revisit the ideas in the back of their mind or the front of their mind.” 

We only wish they had contacted the Real Estate Institute for a comment.  For years, the approach of having students use a study guide to read the material followed by taking practice tests has been our mantra.  Through our PREP-to-PASS programs, we have even taken it a step further by assessing students’ performance after they take the practice test and directing them back to the section in the study guide that they need to review again.   Thousands of licensees have successfully passed their licensing exams with our comprehensive exam preparation programs. 

For more information about these articles, please click on the following links:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/01/19/science.1199327.abstract

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/science/21memory.html

Latest SAFE Test Pass Rates & FHFA goals for 2010-2011

On Thursday morning, the NMLS released new statistics regarding the pass rate for mortgage loan originators taking the national and state components of the SAFE Exam.  The pass rates on the national component aren’t improving.  In fact, they’re getting worse.  For the national component, as of August 31, 2010, only 70% of first-time test takers are passing the exam.  This has slipped from the previous report which showed that 71% were passing.  Like in previous reports, the “fail once, fail again” trend is evident, as the re-take pass rate remains at 44%.  Folks taking the various state components are faring better, with a first-time pass rate of 82% (up from 80% in June) and a re-take pass rate of 46% (up from 44% in June). 

If you haven’t taken your national or state SAFE exams, TIME IS RUNNING OUT!  Remember, if you fail you must wait 30 days before re-taking the exam.  Don’t put yourself in the position where if you fail the exam you can’t work.  Taking the pre-license or continuing education courses before you take the exams will help you prepare.  Supplementing with self-study material that is current and follows the entire NMLS content outlines is probably your best weapon.  Years of experience will not sufficiently prepare you to pass.  Finally, it seems that availability times are filling up fast at the various test centers.  BE SMART – schedule your exam TODAY!

Also worthy of note, yesterday the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its 2010-2011 goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Agencies) with respect to affordable housing.  The 71-page rule is effective on October 14th and can be found in the Federal Register.  It will appear in the Code of Federal Regulations at 12 CFR 1249.  Just a few highlights:

For 2010 and 2011:

  • Purchase money mortgages for low income homebuyers (defined as household income less than 80% of the area median income) should account for at least 27 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Purchase money mortgages for very low income homebuyers (defined as household income less than 30% of the area median income) should account for at least 8 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Purchase money mortgages for properties located in low income census tracts (LICTs) or for moderate income families in minority census tracts should account for at least 13 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Refinance mortgages for low income homeowners should account for at least 21 percent of all of the refinance mortgages purchased by the agencies.

These goals are for single family, owner-occupied units only.  There are other goals for multi-family housing and financing for rental units as well.