Opinion

The coronavirus shifted the loan officer-real estate agent link

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After the housing market came to a near standstill in April, real estate seems to have bounced back with a fury. Top agents have quickly figured out how to adapt to social distancing guidelines, while buyers are as eager as ever to find that dream home.

But is it really possible that this "new normal" could yield the best year ever for mortgage professionals?

While it may seem that the bidding wars resulting from a reduced supply and growing buyer demand, would be good for real estate professionals, mortgage originators are surprisingly the big winners here. You don’t have to take my word for it, though.

Take a look at the evidence for yourself:

Low interest rates are driving buyers directly to lenders

When it comes to first-time homebuyers, the instinct may be to find a real estate agent first and then start looking at properties. However, budget-conscious homebuyers know that it actually makes more sense to meet with a lender to figure out how much house you can afford.

In addition, current homeowners are asking themselves, "what if I can trade up for something newer, bigger, better?" They are thinking more seriously about finding a new home and many are starting that search online. Because rates are low, buyers know they won't get a better price in two years. In many cases, serious buyers call their trusted lender first.

Additionally, with interest rates constantly in the news, buyers are more likely than ever before to think about contacting a lender directly to lock in a low rate. Borrowers also realize how important it is to get insights from mortgage experts. They know mortgage professionals will give them the information they need to make the best decisions for their families.

Lenders are thriving on refinancings

With interest rates at historic lows and many looking to tap into equity, there comes a rush of homeowners wanting to refinance. As a result, lenders reap the immediate financial gains from the cost of the application and closing fees. However, only lenders who can handle the volume will see real tailwinds.

Based on what happened when the Feds cut interest rates in early March, it's clear that consumers are watching mortgage rates closely. Lenders who can handle the spike in demand and have their hands in the process in other ways (such as marketing services for other lenders), stand to gain the most here.

The home buying process has been flipped on its head

Since the bulk of the home buying process can now be done online, the case for buying a home without the assistance of a real estate agent is growing — and the pandemic has only accelerated this trend. Many of today's tech-savvy homebuyers feel confident enough to find all the information they need to make a purchasing decision. However, the vast majority of buyers now and into the future will still need a lender to finance their dreams.

Now who has the power?

Because of these and other reasons, smart lenders realize now may be the best time to start generating their own leads. For professionals who know how to pivot and put themselves in the path of the opportunities, there is no limit to their success.

For too long, loan officers have been beholden to real estate professionals for their leads. Those days are gone. More and more homeowners and those looking to buy are approaching lenders directly.

It is a new dawn for mortgage lenders. Will you make 2020 your best year yet?

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