Written By: Gail Foster, Op-Ed Writer
Economic times are difficult. Home sales are down. There are many sellers and few buyers. In fact, when you discuss the opportunities for home ownership, most just shake their heads and say they doubt they’ll qualify. We live in the land of opportunity and the American Dream is becoming a nightmare. There is not just one answer that will bring recovery, we must be diligent on many fronts if we are going to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve written in past blogs about creating future business by introducing want-to-be- buyers that almost- qualify -but –not- quite to lease purchases. The client is able to take advantage of the low property prices now on a future purchase when they do qualify. Get a few of those in your pipeline each month and you are creating future income and business. But we must do more to start rebuilding business based upon sound lending practices.
I like loan officers, mostly. I was a loan officer for 10 years. I can say with certainty that most borrowers didn’t know how to choose a lender, they didn’t understand the loan process and they certainly didn’t understand why we needed the paperwork we did. It was my responsibility to educate the client, collect the documentation and explain the hang-ups, hold-ups and glitches that occurred along the way. I’m sure that’s very much the job loan officers are doing today. The problem is a loan officer can only reach someone who walks through the door, picks up the phone or clicks a link on the internet to inquire about financing. We need to go out and find, lure, and encourage people who may be thinking about home ownership to make the leap and see if they qualify.
Many of the Realtor shops hold First time Homebuyer Seminars, but on a scale of 1-10, buyers trust Realtors less than car salesmen. Car salesmen don’t call you, email you or send you stuff in the mail to get you to buy your next car from them. They may chase you down on the car lot but with some quick thinking and fast legs, they can be easily outrun. No, once you contact a Realtor, you have a friend for life, whether you were looking for one or not. We are persistent, that’s for sure. So the turnout at these seminars is sporadic to non-existent. So the thinking -about -buying -a –home- cause –prices-and-interest-rates- are- so –low- but- I’m -pretty –sure- I -won’t- qualify buyers just wait and do nothing. Additionally, there’s a lot of confusion about the mortgage meltdown and changes in lending rules and guidelines.
What is needed is an industry wide education push. It would be great if some of the local banks and lenders would initiate educational meetings to help the community understand what it takes to qualify for a loan now. Additionally, larger companies could be approached and lunch hour seminars could be offered for their employees. The end result is that people and communities would become more aware of what financing a home is all about today. With education, confidence levels could be raised, borrowers would be more prepared for loan applications and the loan process and we may convince more people that home ownership IS within their grasp.
About The Author
Gail Foster - As an op-ed writer and active real estate industry professional for the past twelve years, Gail Foster is a proud licensed mortgage officer and a Realtor in the state of Maryland.