Many loan officers came surfing into the first quarter of 2021 on a tidal wave of refinances that seemed unstoppable. Now, many find themselves tumbling to a halt as the tide ebbs just as quickly as it initially surged in. Sure, there’s still a market for refinancing, but many mortgage companies and loan officers are being reminded that stability and longevity rests in the purchase market. If the refinance market was a tidal wave that pushed many loan officers to exhausting heights of labor, then the current purchase market could be considered a tranquil pool by comparison.
But that’s only in comparison—the water is still a little choppy, as many loan officers have found out, and the falling tide reveals a lot of rocks on the shore for the middle of 2021. It seems it’s time to figure out what the NEW new normal is going to be, at least in the mortgage industry.
Being a borrower is hard right now, and when life is hard for borrowers, life is hard for lenders. According to Wall Street Journal, “Buyer demand eclipsed the US housing supply by nearly four million homes in April of 2021. It doesn’t matter how many realtors or borrowers a lender has a good relationship with when there aren’t enough homes to sell!” This issue is compounded by the fact that many homes currently on the market are expensive. Of the new inventory reaching the market, over half of the homes are between two hundred thousand and six hundred thousand dollars. When many would-be homebuyers have small bank accounts—for example according to Chicago Tribune, in 2020 over a quarter of millennials, a prime home buying demographic, had less than one thousand dollars in savings—this means small down payments and high mortgages, assuming the borrower is able to afford the down payment and closing costs in the first place. If the borrower can’t buy, the lender can’t sell, and no one is left happy.
Resurfacing Relationships with Real Estate Agents
In meeting the unique challenges of 2021, one way to start is to reignite realtor relationships. Many loan officers, while focusing on refinances, have let their realtor relationships stagnate for a bit, cutting them off from one of the best sources of new borrowers with homes to purchase. Reaching out to old contacts and refreshing those friendships, as well as putting yourself out there to build new ones, can be critical in restoring these vital lifelines. When connecting with realtors, give them your full attention. Many realtors and borrowers found themselves getting ignored or receiving rushed customer service during 2020 and are wary of anyone who doesn’t show a clear interest in them and their needs.
Embracing New Technology To Uncover New Opportunities
Another tool in your belt is the use of technology in meeting people and facilitating the mortgage process. We all thought we were tech-savvy before 2020 forced everyone to become a Zoom expert; now, video call meetings and Esignings are so common as to be expected. If you’re not already intimately familiar with holding meetings with realtors and borrowers over video call, or Esign software, now is the best time to get started. In a similar vein, creating content for social media is an excellent way to make attention for yourself and to find new leads.
Utilizing Down Payment Assistance to Overcome Homebuyer Obstacles
Finally, all loan officers should have this resource to fill out their tool belts: down payment assistance. The above tips can help you make sure that you have a steady flow of borrowers with homes to buy, but none of this does any good if the borrower can’t afford the home. This is where down payment assistance steps in, to help borrowers who don’t have quite enough savings to afford a down payment, or who want to save for a rainy day, or who just need a little bit more help.
Take CBC Mortgage Agency’s Chenoa Fund down payment assistance program, for example. With Chenoa Fund down payment assistance, your borrower may be able to get a second mortgage to help cover the down payment and closing costs. Given that Chenoa Fund down payment assistance allows borrowers to have a qualifying FICO score as low as 600 for its DPA Edge products, your pool of available borrowers may increase with Chenoa Fund as an available down payment assistance option. CBC Mortgage Agency’s Chenoa Fund down payment assistance is also extremely friendly to loan officers, with same-day approvals and quick purchase times. Check out our website to learn more about the Chenoa Fund down payment assistance program.
The state of the mortgage industry can change rapidly, but if you keep these suggestions in mind, you shouldn’t find yourself high and dry as the market moves to focus more on purchases and homebuyer assistance.