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MortgageOpinion

2021 means new challenges for mortgage lending

Relationships with referral partners are more important than ever

For many of us, the start of a new year is usually synonymous with a renewed sense of professional self, focusing on new goals, new prospects for the year and, of course, the excitement for the upcoming spring real estate market. As we think about coming out of this first month of the year, we’ve quickly realized this year is going to be anything but planned or what we in the mortgage lending industry are used to.

While the mortgage lending industry has always been an ever-changing profession, we as loan originators have entered a very unprecedented market, with a new landscape paved by uncertainty and a level of anxiety that could easily cripple the most seasoned originator.

With the current global pandemic, we have found ourselves in an increasingly volatile financial system and quickly having to learn how to adapt to the changing environment from one day to the next. The current financial state of our country has caused us to now rely heavily on the opening exchanges and the market forecast to determine how our rates will be impacted, thus giving way to a new line of thinking – Where and how can we effectively close loans?

For some, the refinance “boom” has been their bread and butter over the past year and a way to build up their pipelines. But for others, low mortgage rates gave way to pre-approved borrowers struggling in a very competitive seller’s market. It is even more important then ever to stay in front of your borrowers and referral partners so that they understand the changes that ultimately affect us all.

The way we as mortgage lending originators conduct our business has quickly taken on a new form during these times of uncertainty. 2020 proved that we all need to work to find new ways to generate business. While working double time to save the business we had, it was very easy to find ourselves thrown into a game of what to do next? The country was paralyzed amid the current health crisis and many borrowers and sellers alike are frightened to enter purchase contracts and move forward with transactions already in progress.

We found ourselves acting as an empathetic ear to those who are on the verge of potential economic hardship and constantly reassuring those in process that we are all in this together.

Fast forward to 2021 and expanding our mortgage lending business has taken on a new form as the inventory in many markets have taken a sharp downturn during the pandemic, pushing it into some of the lowest availability in history. Buyers are being outbid, above asking price has become the normal in many areas and the trajectory of the market seems to be moving in a much different direction than many are used to.

Even some of the most seasoned real estate agents have had to slow down in their current business model. By acting in accord with our referral partners, we too as originators have had to find new ways to prospect for new business and remain relevant in a challenging environment. Marketing material has quickly evolved from our traditional “Why Rent When You Can Own” to educating on the effect of the Federal Reserve’s action of cutting interest rates and how this has impacted inventory.

This is now more than ever a time of understanding, patience and resilience.

The face of mortgage lending has changed from the recognition of the big-name banks to the individual brand that we have all built for ourselves. Many have established a presence within their markets by hosting local happy hours, attending networking events, and attending their closings. Face-to-face coffee meetings are a staple to beginning new relationships among referral partners, causing many loan originators to halt business dealings and struggle to stay relevant during this crazy time.

Zoom meetings have spiked across the country and even the most seasoned sales professionals have been taking advantage of the short face-to-face time to ensure their partners and clients keep them top of mind.

Business as usual has certainly taken on a new meaning as many of us try to keep up on borrower demands and field questions during the day while juggling working from home, which sometimes involves the occasional screaming child in the background.

It is a great time to revamp our CRMs, organize our past and current clients, and more importantly, try to find ways to slow down and reconnect with family and friends. The mortgage lending business has never been for the faint of heart, but I believe this will certainly separate the lions from the cubs. Buckle up lending community — this may be only getting started!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Tracy Chongling at tracy.chongling@rate.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at swheeler@housingwire.com

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