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September 11: Two Years Later

MortgageDaily.com Publisher Recounts September 11

Industry impact was dramatic

September 11, 2003


The attacks on America two years ago impacted the mortgage industry in a dramatic way.

During 2001, MortgageDaily.com completed a conversion from a mortgage industry news search engine service to a mortgage industry news publication. It was in the age of the world wide web that I learned the news business.

The extreme efficiency of the Internet led me to become a constant user of the medium. My business would not exist without it.

Just as I was getting comfortable, touting my expertise in finding mortgage news sources on the Internet, a jet airliner -- hijacked and piloted by terrorists -- slammed into one of the world's tallest towers. While I may have been alerted to the event by an email news alert, it was the television that provided the most immediate account of the horrific events unfolding.

I closed the lid on my laptop, grabbed my telephone, and sat in front of the TV for the next few hours.

The morning of September 11 was supposed to be an exciting one for me; Newsweek magazine writer Linda Stern was going to interview me for a mortgage refinance article she was writing.

I had just published the story, "TheStreet.com reports that Conseco is hiding bad loans".

By the time Linda called, airplanes had flown into both World Trade Center towers and the pentagon. Linda lived in Washington D.C., and was clearly shaken by the events. It was from her that I first heard the suggestion that the hijackers may have been trained to fly the planes themselves.

The interview was never published.

After the government ordered all commercial and private planes grounded, I remember feeling a sense of security seeing, and hearing, a military fighter jet in the sky over me near the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport.

Following the terrorists' acts themselves were some highly unusual events. Republican and Democrat politicians held hands and sang together. New Yorkers expressed warmth toward each other. News media ran news without advertisements. Publicly traded corporations acted not in the best interest of shareholders or employees, but in the best interest of Americans victimized in some way by these tragic events.

Among the victims of the attacks were many of the 1,000 Cantor Fitzgerald employees located at the top of one of the towers. The firm was a key player in the trading of mortgage backed securities.

Probably the most moving event for me was when the President visited New York. While he was talking to the workers and standing among the remains of the site, the workers began chanting, "U S A, U S A, U S A."

I knew that the events would have a dramatic impact on the mortgage industry, so I began writing an article about what the impact might be. One of the people interviewed for the article was the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA), Doug Duncan. The group is located in Washington D.C., and I sensed anxiety in his voice.

However, his forecast was right on target.

He said that the attacks would be a hit to the economy, and that mortgage rates would initially rise, then fall.

And fall they did.

Predictions of the biggest refinance wave in history were reported. The wave that followed surpassed the expectations of many and culminated last June, when MBA reported that the mortgage Refinance Index reached its highest level ever -- 9977.8.

While the attacks on America left many industries devastated, the mortgage industry thrived like never before -- filling the pockets of consumers with spending cash while lining the pockets of mortgage company owners, employees and investors with profits.

Two years after the attacks, the biggest refinance wave in history appears to be over, and many in the industry are wondering if they will keep their jobs.

Sam Garcia has been in mortgage lending since 1980, and is publisher of MortgageDaily.com. He also owns and operates CloseNow.com, a real estate portal site.

email: SamGarcia@MortgageDaily.com

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