The action at the crap tables and the slot machines here is likely to seem tame to residential mortgage executives as they gather here today for the annual eastern regional conference of mortgage bankers' associations.
Just a week ago, the mortgage industry seemed to be riding high, with interest rates near historic lows and originations volume promising to climb strongly as the year unfolds.
While the violent gyrations of the stock and bond markets have introduced a new element of uncertainty about the shape of mortgage demand for the rest of this year, but here at the Trump Taj Mahal, lenders don't seem terribly worried.
They are talking more about nitty-gritty issues that directly affect their business relationships rather than macro issues such as interest rates. Some key concerns are credit scoring, automated underwriting, and the impact of technology, according to E. Robert Levy, executive director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey.
"They're saying that technology will change the manner in which the mortgage banker will relate to the consumer," Mr. Levy said. "He or she will become more of a consultant and give consumers advice on how to make good judgments on loan products."
He also said issues revolving around the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act should be a hot topic.
Many lenders arrived here earlier this week to attend the commercial mortgage section of the conference.
Mr. Levy said the general expectation was for stable rates for the rest of the year irrespective of short-term gyrations.
Paul S. Nadler, a professor of finance at Rutgers University Graduate School of Management and a luncheon speaker on today's program, said in an interview that the lenders had plenty to worry about even before the turbulent market developed.
"What will happen to interest rates?" he said. "What will happen to the job market? Will developments kill residential and commercial demand?"
Mr. Nadler, an American Banker contributing editor, also said the implications of the presidential election were likely to be on attendees' minds. His menu: "What will the election mean? What's the future of the mortgage interest deduction? What is the significance of the flat tax?"
The mortgage banking viewpoint will be represented by Paul Reid, president of both the Mortgage Bankers Association of America and American Home Funding Inc., Richmond, Va.
Representing the housing finance agencies will be Lawrence Small, president of the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, and Leland Brendsel, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac.
Some insights into legislative topics and other aspects of the Washington scene are likely to be delivered by George F. Will, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and ABC News analyst, who will be a keynote speaker. Also providing a Washington viewpoint will be Rep. Marge Roukema, the New Jersey Republican who heads the House Banking financial institutions subcommittee.