The entire planet's mortgage crisis could have been so easily averted.
If only all of us were Amish.
While I dream of a world filled with people who honor the land and decry technology that is unnecessary (did you know? The Amish do use technology, but only if it's necessary
-- milking machines, yes; Hummers, no), I understand that you can't unring our media- and technology-addicted culture's bell. On the other hand, it's great to be the mortgage banker to the Amish. Bill O'Brien, mortgage banker at the Hometowne Heritage Bank
, has had one late payment this year in his $100 million portfolio. A few days
late. And he's never had a loss on an Amish loan.
The risk profile is great, sure, but the work is hard, he says; he puts 1,000 miles each week on his car servicing his clients. (Sort of ironic, I think, given the Amish don't drive.) Interestingly, the Amish mortgages can't be jammed into CDOs or other securitized packages; due to an obscure legal rule, mortgages for homes without electricity, or homes that aren't insured, can't be securitized.
What can other mortgage bankers learn from O'Brien? Instead of relying on credit histories and scores or proof of financial stability, he talks to the borrower's father, and usually his father-in-law, too. "It takes a team to make a farm go," he tells NPR. If only if all of our families could operate in that manner.