From the Miami Herald article...
Individuals and businesses who want to work in the mortgage industry in Florida are running out of time to apply for licenses under the new, tougher rules.
BY NIRVI SHAH
Only about a quarter of Florida's 43,000 mortgage industry professionals have applied for licenses under the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System, meaning the rest could be barred from working in the industry on Jan. 1.Applications have been accepted since Oct. 1, and each will take up to three months to process. The new, tougher licensing rules require a state and federal background check, required education, proof that an applicant has tried to take state and national tests and a credit report.Old rules required a state criminal background check once, and licenses could be renewed every two years without additional criminal screenings. Licenses could be revoked if mortgage sellers were charged for a crime after that, but the state relied on the brokers to report criminal charges filed against them.Those who turn in applications by Jan. 1 can keep working while their paperwork is processed.It's unclear why more brokers haven't applied. Since the peak of the housing market about five years ago, the number of registered mortgage brokers in Florida has dropped by about half, said Flora Beal, a spokeswoman for the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.The fees may be a deterrent she said, or people may simply be procrastinating.A 2008 Miami Herald report, called Borrowers Betrayed, showed that state regulators allowed thousands of people with criminal histories -- including armed robbers and cocaine traffickers -- to work in the mortgage industry since 2000.Individuals, companies and branch offices must apply for licenses. So far, the state has received about 10,300 individual applications, though there are four times as many mortgage brokers licensed now under existing rules.About 1,000 of nearly 7,000 companies have applied, and 727 of 3,116 branch offices have filed applications.``The longer you wait the more risk you take, and the last thing we want to see is Floridians who are unable to legally continue working in the mortgage industry just because they didn't get their applications in on time,'' said Tom Cardwell, commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.