Instead of a lengthy article on the miracle of life or the titanic mess of regulatory terminators being unleashed upon us, this month I just have a couple of questions I hope you can help me answer.
What’s Up with REALTORS®?
It’s a pet peeve, so maybe it’s just me, but I think the insistence by the National Association of REALTORS® on using the all-caps REALTOR® every time anyone talks about REALTORS® is not a good idea. It comes across pretentious, pompous, and a bit annoying. REALTORS® cannot be getting any serious mileage out of using a term that is, in the 21st
century, the equivalent of shouting at their customers. I do understand that not all real-estate agents are REALTORS®, and that it is important to the NAR to differentiate between those that are, and who therefore (are supposed to) adhere to the REALTOR® code of conduct, and those who are… just…mandated by law to adhere to an ethical standard. I’m sure there’s a huge difference. Frank and Brian once jokingly proposed that we on the mortgage side create a group and start calling ourselves LENDORS®, which was a hilarious idea until we all realized that there isn’t any way we can possibly regulate ourselves any more than five different government agencies can. REALTOR® as a term has lost any hope of being maintained as a separate brand, as a true meaningful trademark of the NAR. It’s too late. REALTOR® is already in the same class as KLEENEX® and XEROX® and VELCRO®, which most people don’t even know are trade names and not synonyms for bathroom tissue, copies, and hook-and-loop fastener. Isn’t it time to give up and just let people talk about realtors the same way they talk about lenders, appraisers, and third-basemen? Is the Office Obsolete?
Where do you do business? If you’re like me, and like most of the agents I know, the answer to that question really is “on my phone,” which if you’re like most of the humans in America means a cell phone. A phone without a cord. You do business wherever you happen to be. With the explosion not only of smart phones but of tablets – Apple says it has sold 84 million iPads so far – and the profusion of productivity apps that go with them, even traditional computers are less and less critical to the execution of contracts and the doing of business. Paperless documents are still more theory than practice, but no one thinks that state of affairs will remain for long. Very shortly – heck, some of us are already there – we will not just be able to do business out of the office, it will be easier to do so. I caught myself touching the screen of my laptop to start a video the other day (didn’t work). I already use my desktop only once or twice a week. My clients can sign their documents right on my iPad, so what on earth am I doing tethered to a desk? It’s long been true in this business that those who get out and see people do business, and those that sit in the office all day only talk about doing business (those of you that run telemarketing operations, stand down, I’m not talking about you). So my question is, for the producing branch or agent, is the office a thing of the past? Recently, my branch moved from a 600 sq. ft. place to a 2400 sq. ft. building, and we like the move tremendously. And yet, often a whole week will go by without my seeing more than one or two of our team there. I’m not there. They aren’t there. We come in for the powerful scanner and printer, and then we go back out where the people are. We meet there with clients many times, but even that isn’t a huge chunk of the week. We could do it with a table and chairs in a small room. What’s your thinking? Is the office on the way out?
FHFA, Fannie and Freddie, and FHA
I am conflicted. On the one hand, I want the big boys in the government to do things that will not bankrupt the country. On the other hand, I want them to relax standards so that more of my borrowers will get approved for loans. Take the new FHA credit standards, which are being generally forecast just after the time this article comes out. They would waive the current waiting periods post-bankruptcy and post-foreclosure. Now, look, let’s be real about this. All other things being equal, the default rate is going to be higher with a BK borrower than a non-BK borrower. It seems awfully likely that relaxing those credit standards is going to raise the default rate. This is not going to be a good thing for the US taxpayer, who is already on the hook for billions in the mortgage industry. But at the same time, I have a dozen borrowers off the top of my head who are going to be able to refinance if those standards get relaxed, and that will make them (and me) better off. So I remain conflicted. I hardly know what to root for. In a way, though, it’s been like this for a long time. Every time a jobs report comes out, I’m hoping it will be bad, because nothing makes rates improve like a bad employment report. At the same time, though, more people employed would mean more money in the spendable economy, which would mean more buyers for houses which would mean rising home prices, more equity, and the release of some long pent-up demand for refinances and relocations. It would be, on balance, a much better thing to have good economic news than bad. And yet, I have this borrower that would be able to refinance if we could only get to 3.375%... Is it just me? Are you doing this, too?
Chris Jones is a branch manager with City First Mortgage Services and a ten-year veteran spanning the best and the worst of times in the industry. He is the author of the book
Even Your Mother Won’t Call You Back, a primer on how to use the Six Channels of Marketing to do business more naturally and efficiently (available at www.iamchrisjones.com). Chris arrived in mortgages after careers with tech startups, stockbrokering, and running a presidential campaign. He’s a sought-after speaker and a part-time opera singer, which he insists isn’t as impressive as it sounds. Chris and his wife Jeanette live in Lehi, UT with their eight children.