There is nothing normal about this July Fourth holiday. With COVID-19 cases spiking in the biggest states, the slow creep back to normal has been put on hold in many places, and the usual Independence Day celebrations are few and far between.
But, if you work in real estate or mortgage, you wouldn’t be taking time off anyway. The low mortgage rates we’ve seen since March when the Fed began its bond-buying spree are now setting all-time records, down to an average of 3.07% for a 30-year fixed as of this morning.
Accordingly, loan officers, underwriters, real estate agents, appraisers and those working in title and settlement offices are continuing to work the long hours that have become the norm since March.
Not that they’re complaining.
When I asked our HW+ audience (those who have a membership to our premium content) about their vacation plans, they laughed at the idea of taking time off right now. This was typical of the comments I got:
“Who is taking off??? We’re in an on-demand society and the world is flat! If consumers are taking off then that may reduce some of the workload, but every front-end professional I know is running on all cylinders through the weekend.”
This particular reply was from an origination leader who oversees a bunch of top performers, so I asked if his perspective might be skewed. His answer: “What’s interesting is that even under-performers who are typically reactionary rather than proactive at driving business are overloaded with requests right now. Especially refinance requests. Basically every past client is searching for advice about the cheapest mortgage money in history.”
Earlier this week I listened in on a call between mortgage coach Joel Epstein and several dozen originators from some of the biggest lenders in the country and most weren’t even planning to take the weekend off, much less extra vacation time. Epstein, who also hosts The bigJOEL Show podcast, was incredulous at the very idea of a vacation this summer.
“The number of purchase contracts people are writing right now is massive — even in places that were on full lockdown several weeks ago. Their June might be the best June they’ve ever had. This is not the time for originators to take a vacation. It is game on — now is the time to make hay while the sun is shining, you absolutely should not be taking time off right now!”
It’s not just lenders working overtime, of course. Working on weekends, weeknights and holidays is pretty normal for real estate agents, but the shortage of housing inventory has ratcheted up the pressure to get an offer in as early as possible. Bidding wars have increased in many metros, and the shortage of homes means agents, lenders, appraisers and others have to work in concert to get their borrower to the closing table.
Christine Beckwith, president and CEO of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching, works with sales and marketing leaders across mortgage and real estate and noted how those she is working with have stepped up to the opportunity. “I see the longer hours, the record-breaking funding months and staggering volume. These professionals are up for the challenge…they know markets like this come and they go so they are strapped in and buckled up, forgoing vacations in some instances to truly assist homeowners in so many ways.”
There’s no doubt July fourth will be a working holiday for many, but the bigger question is how long will this heyday last? With no end in sight for lower rates and continued pent-up housing demand, will mortgage and housing pros be spending Labor Day weekend the same way?