The California Association of Mortgage Bankers' San Diego chapter held its annual tradeshow last Friday and focused on how to survive in the changing market.
While past years were larger -- last year the show had more than 100 exhibitor booths compared to this year's 22 -- the event looked beyond the market's problems and held seminars to help its members.
Tony Courtney, trade show committee chair, who also is a sales representative for Stewart Title said the attendance decline was due to many of her colleagues going out of business.
The event kicked off by keynote speakers George Chamberlin, executive editor of The Daily Transcript, and Greg Smith, the county assessor.
Both emphasized the importance of not panicking despite the slowing market.
"Is this the beginning of the end?" Smith asked the audience about the slowdown of foreclosures in recent months. "Have we reached the high point? Are we on the downslide? ... If notices of default keep going down it is. If this is some back log issues maybe not, but this is the first positive sign I've seen."
Despite the small numbers, several participants said the crowd who did attend was special, because they are the people who have survived the market and will continue to stay in business.
"If you're still alive in this market, you're probably going to be in it forever," said Dave McDonald, San Diego CAMB president.
Laura Yilmaz, account executive of Lakeside Financial Inc. in Orange County, was exhibiting her company for the third year in a row.
"It's a smaller year, but there's been good flow," said Yilmaz.
Lakeside Financial is what Yilmaz described as a "boutique" lender and said it was important for the company to remind mortgage brokers that it is still there to serve them, despite other, larger companies going out of business in the past year.
CAMB event planners tried to keep spirits up with loud music, a bar and a green screen that allowed participants to digitally put their heads on dancing bodies to the likes of Frank Sinatra's "I Got You Under My Skin" and "La Bamba."
A reminder McDonald said is important.
"It gets the broker community together," he said. "I'm happy not just with the people with the companies that are here exhibiting booths, but also wit the classes we're got. By the end of the day, everyone should walk away with a bunch of knowledge."
On Monday, MortgageDaily.com released a report saying California had a net loss of 1,914 jobs between July 1 and Sept. 30 this year.
Seminars included a presentation by Housing and Urban Development department spokeswoman discussing the recent changes in FHA and VA loans, tips on how to fix clients' credit scores and how to structure loan modifications.
One of the seminars included information about "how to be successful in an industry where so many people are filled with doom and gloom."
"It wouldn't be a complete trade show without someone to motivate people in our market," Courtney said.