Announcing HousingWire’s 2021 Rising Stars
Today’s HousingWire Daily features an interview with HW+ Managing Editor Brena Nath. In this episode, Nath discusses what readers can expect in HousingWire’s June magazine issue, which features HousingWire’s 2021 Rising Stars.
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For some background on the interview, here’s a brief summary of the June magazine and the 2021 Rising Stars:
This issue marks my first issue overseeing the magazine with a cover photoshoot, and wow, Matt Jones, who is portrayed on the cover, really set the bar high when it comes to what it means to be a Rising Star. He formerly served as senior counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and currently, he serves as senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. His list of accomplishments includes being the principal drafter of the mortgage forbearance program enacted through the CARES Act, which reshaped the mortgage industry and enabled more than 4 million homeowners to hit the pause button on their mortgage.
But it’s not simply his monumental role in creating housing relief during the COVID-19 pandemic that makes him a Rising Star, it’s also everything he did leading up to that moment that truly makes him an exemplary young influencer in the housing sector. It’s this same willpower, steadfastness and determination to push through adversity that defines this year’s winners.
From leading their team through a massive refinance boom and quickly developing new technology to meet the unique needs of 2021 to driving the adoption of eClosings and delivering relevant training to lenders and agents on how to navigate the pandemic, we’re excited to present this year’s class of Rising Stars.
HousingWire Daily examines the most compelling articles reported across HW Media. Each afternoon, we provide our listeners with a deeper look into the stories coming across our newsrooms that are helping Move Markets Forward. Hosted by the HW team and produced by Alcynna Lloyd and Victoria Jones.
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Below is the transcription of the interview. These transcriptions, powered by Speechpad, have been lightly edited and may contain small errors from reproduction:
Victoria Jones: Hello, HousingWire listeners. Today, I’m joined by HousingWire HW+ Managing Editor Brena Nath. Listeners, today, Brena will be speaking to us today about HousingWire’s 2021 Rising Stars, which is a program that recognizes industry professionals who have become leaders in their respective fields and are helping move markets forward each and every day. Brena, thanks for joining us today.
Brena Nath: So excited to talk about this month’s magazine. Thanks for having me.
Victoria Jones: Yeah, glad to have you. Well, as I said before, we’re going to be discussing HousingWire’s 2021 Rising Stars but for those who may not know, can you dive a little deeper on what the program entails?
Brena Nath: Yes. So our Rising Stars award is one of our longest, kind of, running awards programs that we’ve had here at HousingWire. It honors the rising stars in the industry. Some of the requirements, just go into some of the logistics behind our Rising Stars program, is you have to be younger than 40, so 40 or younger in order to receive this award. And what’s really fascinating about this award program since we’ve had it for so long is that we’ve been able to watch people age through our awards program which is kind of what the Rising Stars program was intended to do. So you have these people who are making a difference in this industry, whether they’re innovating, setting records when it comes to mortgage volume, disrupting their space and being a leader in that and then eventually, [inaudible 00:02:22.472] are growing into our vanguards and they’re growing into our woman of influence. And so, right now, kind of be pretty literal. They are the rising star in the industry, so take that [inaudible 00:02:34.079] for what it is. It’s someone who’s really shining right now and we see such a great career trajectory for them, especially based on the amazing things that they’ve already done.
Victoria Jones: All right. Well, Rising Stars is now in its third year. Brena, can you walk us through how the program has progressed throughout the years?
Brena Nath: I love that question because we’ve had so many great people profile throughout the years. Looking specifically at this year, obviously, COVID-19, no one saw that coming. It was a year like no other and so, watching each award program and nominees come through over the last year has been just amazing to see how many people were trailblazers that moved forward, that didn’t let the current situation stop them from not only doing their job but really raising that bar and going above and beyond in the year that was so unprecedented, so unpredictable. And so, this year, I really framed our 50 rising stars as kind of these 50 young disruptors who came across all sectors of the housing industry, you have your mortgage, your real estate, fintech, servicing, and really just pushed the boundaries into challenges that no one ever saw coming.
And so, I think, every year has really had these great trailblazers. That’s something that’s been consistent throughout the years. There really are people that we have seen progress into the vanguards in the industry but this year, specifically, was just so unique because you saw, especially I know we’ll kind of get to it in future questions, but people who really played a key and a pivotal for everything that the word pivotal means, that they were essential, that they were vital, that they were the key to the success of this industry during a year that no one saw coming and ended up being a booming, busy, hot housing market for the industry so everyone had had to rally after so much uncertainty in March, and these are the people that really helped the industry kind of go forward. I feel like you can tell from my answer that I’m very passionate about this through reading these 50 profiles, knowing everything about how these people work because they really deserve the credit and the congratulations for what they did over the past year and even before that.
Victoria Jones: Absolutely. Well, I have the magazine here in front of me but for those who haven’t seen the issue yet, can you tell us a little bit about this year’s cover star, Matt Jones?
Brena Nath: I am so excited to share who is on the feature of this year’s magazine. I’ve been here throughout the years. I would profile different people. I think they all are shiny examples of Rising Star. This year, specifically, we profile Matt Jones. His current title is senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. And what’s so notable about him or why he stuck out to our selection committee is because Matt Jones really was at the kind of the center of the conversation right at the beginning of COVID when Washington, D.C. was [inaudible 0:05:33.993] together and having to figure out what do we do to help keep the economy, to help keep America safe. There’s one word that I think everyone has heard over the last year. It’s the CARES Act or I guess maybe that’s two words and a whole bunch of words put into one. But Matt Jones really was the housing mortgage person behind the CARES Act and he was the principal drafter of the forbearance section in there. So I think everyone in this industry has touched, or talked about, or has had to deal with forbearance when it comes to educating people on it, when it comes to maybe having to field those phone calls if you’re in the servicing industry, when it comes to walking people through it. So I don’t want to really mess up his profile by kind of regurgitating because it’s so powerful so I highly recommend you reading it yourself.
But just for some background on him, when he was… So this is going back a year ago in March, just tease a little bit of his intro. At the time, he served as the senior counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. At the time though, he originally was serving alongside Senator Mike Crapo, who’s a Republican from Idaho. He was the Senate Banking chairman for that committee and he moved over to the Senate Finance Committee. And so, that’s why he is now in a different kind of seat. He still oversees a lot of things when it comes to taxes, low-income tax credit, stuff like that, but at the time, he really was the brains behind what exactly this industry needs when it comes to mortgage. He has been a loan officer. He also worked at the MBA. And so, he’s really just had a kind of from this ground-up awareness of the mortgage industry.
So during his profile, when I was interviewing him, he really recalled those days writing the CARES Act, remembering kind of the sleepless nights that he had. He kind of talked about how he’d kind of go home at, you know, say 2:00 in the morning and have to be back at work at 5:00 in the morning, barely getting any sleep because there’s so much unknown during this time and such a big, in his words, just like bipartisan [inaudible 00:07:46.128] to come together and get this CARES Act out the door. And then they came together once again later in the year to kind of do a follow up to it, so just a very interesting, fascinating inside look at what was going on in Washington, D.C. from the eyes of Matt Jones and then just going into some of his background and also just kind of his personal life and how he’s balanced, you know, raising his daughter during a pandemic and balancing family with also this job that was requiring so much. So highly recommend his profile, just a unique story there of someone who saw firsthand what was going on in Washington, D.C.
Victoria Jones: Yeah, no doubt his profile piece was definitely really interesting and I’m excited for our listeners and readers to learn more about him. So what does this new wave of awardees say about the industry at this time and what does this new class of Rising Stars indicate about the industry’s future?
Brena Nath: To think of a different word besides the word exciting. I think, some of the common themes around 2020 was really the adoption in the industry really just kind of skyrocketed, so you look at the eClosing world. We have different people in here who had a key role in developing the technology around “Okay, the industry now has a bunch of titles or e-closings that we have to do because everyone has these stay-at-home orders. Do we have the technology around this?” And this is stuff that we’ve been talking about for years but really, technology took a front seat. Any closings took a front seat over the last years since the industry was forced into a lot of adoption that before was kind of something that we all were learning about and slowly integrating to this point of “Oh, no, we can’t do in-person closings. What do we do now?” So there are different people in our Rising Stars profile that I would highlight there. You have a lot of great people who set records when it came to volume, which I would know, a lot of people who helped with HR. When you look at the manner of people and the companies over [inaudible 00:09:54.970] you had to shift into this work-from-home model, how do you ensure culture is still there in an industry where we’re still trying to get more people, we’re trying to hire people, we’re still trying to recruit people? And not only recruit, now, we want to retain them. There are all these HR people who are on our list who I think, shows what the future, like okay, here’s how we’ve integrated culture into this work-from-home environment. Here’s how we still were able to hire people and retain them going into the future, which is something this industry talks about a lot.
So what I kind of saw in these Rising Stars, I mean, these names are people that you might already know. You have Alec Hanson. He’s SVP of product in the Pacific Southwest division of loanDepot. You have Dan Habib. He’s the EVP of MBS Highway. These are names that a lot of people have known and you saw them over the last year kind of share awareness, education, know sales numbers or innovate a new product. And the industry can like double down on the things that we knew, and then everyone else kind of came in and said, “Yes. We need this product so yes, we’ll adopt this or focus on it.” So highlight the names, you know, you have Jess Kennedy who’s the co-founder and COO of Beeline. She’s a great person. I was gonna chat with her before so I highly recommend you go into this list of 50 people. Like I said, you also have the real estate people. You have Malte Kramer. He’s the CEO and founder of Luxury Presence, which is on the real estate side and the technology side. These great people who kind of found the need during a year that had a lot of needs and kind of solved for it.
Victoria Jones: So we’ve been talking a lot about the issue but for those who want to see it for themselves, how can they go about doing so?
Brena Nath: Housingwire’s magazine falls under HW+. As Victoria noted at the beginning, I’m the HW+ Managing Editor. The magazine falls underneath a shared plus subscription so once you sign up for that, you get access to all our digital content which usually has, at a minimum, 5 uniquely sourced articles online but then you also get with it 10 issues of our HousingWire magazine. And so, the two issues at the back here are merged together, December-January, and then October-November, so that’s a little bit backwards but you get those issues mailed to you. They feature a lot of our award winners that allow a lot of unique commentaries on what’s going on with the industry, stories about some of the hot topics that are a little bit more evergreen in these days so I’d recommend that. I’m still kind of old-fashioned. I enjoy having my cup of coffee, sitting down with the magazine, and reading through it, especially because the names featured in there are the key stakeholders.
Victoria Jones: Great. Well, lastly, before we go, is there anything else that you’d like to add or anything else our listeners should know about this month’s Rising Stars issue?
Brena Nath: The June magazine issue is a little bit unique because it actually had a supplement along with it, so a supplement was another 20-page little magazine booklet. I say little, 20 pages still has a lot of information jampacked into there, but this 20-page supplement issue featured RealTrends. Tracey Velt, who’s the managing editor of RealTrends, they’re a sister company for HousingWire, they have a really well-known award program called the RealTrends 500. It’s not a work award but a ranking system that we have talked about here on the podcast. And we kind of took all of that information and we wanted the people who get the HousingWire magazine to also see this RealTrends data so if you open up your magazine, and sure, you’ll get it mailed to you, you’ll also have the 20-page supplement. It goes into the rankings by volume, the rankings by transaction size, the independent brokerages. And it also gave a sneak peek of the game changers’ list from RealTrends which isn’t even going live until about mid-June. So if you sign up for HW+, you get a sneak preview into who the game changers are. For RealTrends, I’d be sure to check that out to get kind of that first look at some of those people who are really making a huge, massive impact on the real estate page. That’s why they’re called game changers, obviously, so I want to highlight that. We don’t have supplements too often and that’s a supplement I would highly recommend everyone kind of looking at as well.
Victoria Jones: Great. Well, Brena, we appreciate your time today, so thanks for joining us again on “HousingWire Daily.”
Brena Nath: It’s always a pleasure to talk about the magazine. Thanks so much, Victoria.
Victoria Jones: Absolutely.