February 2017 Industry Speakers

Industry Speakers

Mark Palim
Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist
Fannie Mae


Dr. Mark Palim is Fannie Mae’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. Reporting to the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, Dr. Palim is responsible for overseeing the Economic and Strategic Research Group’s forecasting functions. He also manages multi-disciplinary partnerships across the company to address specific business issues facing Fannie Mae. Dr. Palim is a key spokesperson on economic trends and a frequent speaker at national mortgage finance and housing industry events.

Prior to joining Fannie Mae in 2009, Dr. Palim was an economic consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and LECG. His practice focused on applying economic and financial theory to a variety of business disputes and policy questions. He worked as a consulting and testifying expert in antitrust cases and disputes in the financial services industry. In addition, Dr. Palim led a team of 75 adjudicators charged with valuing claims for the Department of Justice and the Special Master administering the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Dr. Palim’s involvement in economic forecasting and mortgage securities began in 1988 as a Portfolio Manager at Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company, where he also reported to the Chief Economist. Subsequently, he continued his work on macroeconomic and policy issues as a Staff Economist for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

Dr. Palim is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder.

Dr. Palim has a bachelor of arts in international studies from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in economics from George Mason University.

John Hunt
MarketNSight & ViaSearch, Inc.


John Hunt is the founder and president of ViaSearch, and a principal of MarketNsight. Since 1995, ViaSearch has surveyed over a quarter of a million home buyers from Seattle to Washington DC and points in between. In Atlanta, the ViaSearch New Home Buyer Report tracks buyer demographics, product preferences and media ratings for all new home buyers in the MSA.

MarketNsight provides residential real estate information, analysis and forecasting for brokers, builders/developers, and mortgage/banking professionals in markets across the United States.

John led the effort providing the only housing data used by the Senate Banking Committee in October of 2009, helping Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson successfully extend the Home Buyer Tax Credit.

He has been on the leading edge of Millennial Home Buying Trends, accurately predicting the dramatic loss of First Time Buyers in 2013, upon the depletion of distressed lots Nationally.

In February 2016, John made news at the Georgia State Economic Forecasting Conference, calling “expert” industry forecasts wildly optimistic. He correctly called for 780,000 starts nationally, as opposed to the 977,000 predicted by other industry experts.

After graduating from Samford University with a BA in Finance/Economics, John worked as a marketing executive in the Atlanta Housing Industry until starting ViaSearch.

Frank K. Norton, Jr.
CEO Chairman
Norton Holdings


Georgia native, Frank K. Norton, Jr. joined his family’s business, The Norton Agency, in 1986 as manager of both Commercial and Residential Real Estate Divisions. He was promoted to President of the holding company in 1997 becoming CEO Chairman in 2007 and today manages a network of 63 associated real estate, investment and financial services businesses with an annual volume exceeding $660 million.

Well recognized for his excellent marketing skills and keen business intuition, Frank has presented, for the past 28 years, an economic forecast outlining growth and business trends for Georgia and the Southeastern United States region. The report, based on a wealth of data collected by Norton’s Native Intelligence Division, is a resource that guides many area companies and organizations in making their business decisions. He is a noted and colorful speaker on economic, demographic and real estate trends, giving 25 + talks annually.

His clients include The Atlanta Falcons, 3 School Systems, Northeast Georgia Medical Center and The Longstreet Clinic.

Frank is also partner in Blackwatch Capital Funds with 250 million of assets managed, a private group of closed end real estate funds geared toward long-term and opportunistic investments throughout Georgia.

In 2007 he and his partner brother, recast his family’s brokerage company to zero in on the troubled distressed asset market segment. During that stressful time, NortonREO.com managed and marketed a portfolio of residential and commercial stressed assets over $300 million, 49 banks and institutions, including the FDIC, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since 2008, the REO team has been involved in $1 billion in asset product sales.

Professionally, Frank holds Broker’s licenses in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina. He is a member of the National Association of Realtors and the Council of Commercial Investment Managers.

Besides his obvious commitment to the business of Real Estate, Frank is also involved with a number of community organizations. For 15 years he has served as an assistant Scout Master to Boy Scout Troop 16, acting as the Eagle Scout Advisor, having achieved the Eagle Scout level at the age of 13 and the designation of Boy Scout of the Year for the State of Georgia at age 15. He regularly donates his “birds”, whimsical drawings he has hanging in 12 Southeastern galleries, to charitable groups for their fundraising.

He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction, College of Architecture and became, at 25, the youngest manager in the history of CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm. Frank and his wife of 32 years, Nancy, have two daughters Teddie, and Emilie and a son, Tripp.