The real estate industry is finally beginning to stabilize, giving real estate agents, brokers, and real estate support industries reason for guarded optimism. Record-low interest rates, combined with more consumer confidence in the overall economy are bringing buyers back to the market. As more buyers return to weekend open houses, the prevailing question on the minds of that potential client is locating an affordable mortgage.
Real estate professionals can grow their business exponentially if they position themselves as a resource that helps clients secure the buying power they need to afford their first or next home. Here are just a few tips:
• Know prevailing mortgage rates. Mortgage rates change daily based on market conditions, shift in indices and bond markets, lender pricing, and a number of other factors. Stay up to date on rate trends resources that publish daily rates. Developing a relationship with a mortgage broker who has access to a number of lenders extends your knowledge base even more.
• Assess your clients’ long-term goals to recommend the best loan program. Depending on the motives behind your clients’ search for a new home, their goals may or may not be met with the traditional 30-year-fixed loan product.
• Understand lenders’ underwriting guidelines. Even for stable homeowners looking to buy a larger home, loan-to-value requirements, debt-to-income ratios, what qualifies as liquid assets, and other factors can create a maze for your clients aspiring for a new home.
Real estate agents and brokers should also familiarize themselves with alternative loan products, which are better-regulated products than in the previous cycle. Underwriting standards have tightened considerably, making it tougher for clients to qualify for a traditional 30-year fixed mortgage. For example, there are clients with great credit, but lower income or higher debt levels than lenders are comfortable with, as well as clients with less-than-perfect credit and even those whose long-term goals aren’t best suited for a standard loan. It’s in the real estate professional’s best interests to partner with a mortgage professional who knows the latest loan sources and loan products to better educate your clients.
These products include:
• FHA mortgage programs that typically require lower down payments and are more lenient with credit criteria
• 40-year fixed loans amortizing the loan over a longer period, offering the security of a fixed payment lower than the traditional 30-year mortgage
• 15 and 20-year fixed loans for clients with a tolerance for higher payments looking to maximize equity over a shorter period of time
• Adjustable rate loans with beginning interest rates considerably lower than their 30-year fixed counterparts
• Fixed / Adjustable Rate Loans, with a lower interest rate fixed for 3, 5, 7 or 10 years
• “Hard Money” loans carrying higher interest rates and shorter terms for buyers with strong income and reserves, or needing to use the capital as a bridge loan to meet LTV requirements or other criteria
• Jumbo loans exceeding most lenders’ conforming loan maximums for buyers
There are a number of ways for real estate professionals to make the most out of the recent good fortunes befalling the housing industry. But knowing how to connect homebuyers with the best mortgage, at the best price, and in the least amount of time will put the savvy real estate pro ahead of the pack and helpt to close more transactions.