The National Association of Mortgage Brokers has chosen to stay in Phoenix.

The trade group decided at a March 25 meeting that it will not move its headquarters to Washington, as it had previously considered. Instead, it will remain in Phoenix, but its executive vice president may move to Washington next year.

The decision may have cost the NAMB its skilled staff vice president for government relations in Washington, Mary J. Burt. She quit days before the meeting, apparently anticipating the change in strategy.

Andrea Waas, who had been interim executive vice president, was named to the top staff job permanently.

"The association is at the point in its lifestyle that needs a firm direction," said Ms. Waas, previously the director of public relations at the National Funeral Directors Association.

"I think there is a lot of potential in the association," she added.

Ms. Burt declined to comment.

The association has been debating its role in the nation's home-lending industry since September, when Michael J. Hoogendyk, then executive vice president, abruptly resigned. The self-evaluation centered on whether or not to move its headquarters to Washington.

The debate became even more crucial as the home-loan market continued to dive and take its toll on mortgage brokers.

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers has 5,600 members and is affiliated with 30 state groups.

The group's Washington office, under Ms. Burt's stewardship, had grown into an increasingly vocal entity within NAMB. Realizing the need for more clout with politicians, trade group officials in Washington felt that NAMB must substantiate its presence in the nation's capital.

But some at the group thought a move to Washington would undermine NAMB's ability to service its members. "The work that is being done in Phoenix is not necessarily the work that has to be done in Washington," said Charles E. Eck, the group's president. "Why move the operation when it is doing so well where it is now?"

But Mr. Eck, president of Lincoln Mortgage and Funding, Schaumburg, Ill., acknowledged that Washington was where much of the association's concerns were focused. He said the group's executive vice president "should be located where our member brokers get the most benefits."

That is why Ms. Waas may move to Washington in 1996, he said. Ms. Waas's immediate task as permanent executive vice president will be to help NAMB members weather the current industry downturn. She also will try to expand the association's membership.

Mr. Eck, NAMB president, said there were 20 states that the trade group has not penetrated. He said the group would try to attract new members from thrifts and small mortgage banks that, in essence, operate like mortgage brokers, making loans with funding from larger lenders.

He said the association would try to keep up with changes in technology on behalf of its members. And it will push the Department of Housing and Urban Development to better enforce the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

On a separate topic, Mr. Eck said the group fully supports the privatization of FHA loan programs, as proposed by Republicans in Congress.

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