Real Estate

How to Seize the Moment as Mortgage Rates Retreat

Seek lenders who have the tech, people skills and product set to get would-be homebuyers off the fence and to the closing table, Knock and Maxwell executives told attendees at Connect Las Vegas.

The big 2022 run-up in mortgage rates may have already peaked, and real estate agents and brokers who want to make the most of the reprieve should be working with lenders who have the technology, people skills and product set to get would-be homebuyers off the fence and to the closing table.

That’s the perspective of two mortgage industry executives who provided their insights Wednesday at Real Estate Connect Las Vegas on, “How Technology is Powering the Transaction of the Future.”

“I was at a mortgage conference two weeks ago, and I think the general sentiment was, ‘We’ll survive, we’ll be fine,’ ” said John Paasonen, co-founder and CEO of mortgage tech provider Maxwell. “And honestly, if I can share some good news, I think mortgage rates peaked at six-and-a-quarter percent — it’s very possible we saw the top. They’ve also fallen at the fastest rate then they have in a long time, down close to 5 percent.”

The recent drop in mortgage rates from the June peak cuts about $400 a month from the monthly mortgage payment of a homebuyer looking at purchasing the median-priced home of $417,000, said Robert Foos, director of sales at Power Buyer Knock.

“That’s millions of homebuyers that are able to get back into the game that maybe have been priced out” when mortgage rates soared in the first months of the year, Foos said.

Maxwell is a technology startup that raised $52.5 million last fall to accelerate its mission of helping small to midsize mortgage lenders streamline their processes. Paasonen said real estate brokers and their agents are better off working with tech-focused lenders, because their deals are less likely to be derailed.

Lenders using Maxwell’s technology close loans about 45 percent faster than the national average, and their loan officers have less paperwork to wade through, freeing them up to spend more time with their clients, he said.

“If a [real estate] broker is not working with somebody who’s out there getting leads for them, who’s not sitting with their borrowers trying to solve their problems, and who’s not out there using great technology that helps the loans close faster … they’re doing you a disservice and you should get another partner to help you get those transactions done,” Paasonen said.

Changing demographics also present an opportunity to take market share from competitors who aren’t prepared for them, Paasonen said, noting the growing segment of Hispanic and Latino borrowers. Maxwell recently launched a mortgage solution that lets borrowers complete mortgage applications in Spanish or English, and even switch back and forth between languages.

Maxwell can also help real estate brokerages improve or launch their own mortgage lending businesses, acting as an “end-to-end partner” from originating loans to selling them to investors on the secondary market.

“We power the full back office … we pick, pack and ship the loan for you, in your name, right from the front end,” Paasonen said. “And that’s a great way for you to run the entire transaction from the beginning.”

Foos said offering alternative financing options are another way for agents to help their buyers and sellers be successful.

Knock GO, which stands for Guaranteed Offer, is a “cash-like” conventional mortgage product that allows buyers to write an offer on a home without including a financing contingency. For buyers who have a home to sell, the Knock Home Swap provides the funding to buy a new home before listing the old house, including a mortgage and an interest-free equity advance loan which covers the down payment on the new home.

Knock this week announced that it’s offering clients interest-free equity advances, enabling homeowners who are making a move to pay points to buy down their mortgage rate, or qualify for better rates by making a bigger down payment.

Foos said last year Knock’s messaging was focused on “How do we instill confidence for the seller to accept our buyer’s offer?” This year, the primary focus is “instilling confidence back in buyers, to get buyers back off the couch and get buyers back in the game.”

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