President, Guaranteed Rate
What loans do you expect to see most buyers qualify for next year? Conforming and FHA fixed-rate loans will continue to be the product of choice for most consumers in 2012. Jumbo loans will also become more attractive as banks and institutional investors become more comfortable holding them on balance sheets and for investment.
Do you see the appraisal-loan approval process improving, getting worse or staying the same? The appraisal-loan process will improve in 2012 as lenders and agents continue to become more comfortable with changing guidelines, values and regulations. The improved process will ultimately lead to better transparency and smoother closing transactions for consumers and agents.
Where are new business opportunities for lenders and agents to work together? There will be numerous opportunities for lenders and agents to work collaboratively in 2012. Guaranteed Rate has always found creative and innovative ways to work with our Realtor partners in growing their business, and 2012 will be no different. Over 1,500 Chicagoland Realtors currently use our online Realtor Portal, giving them access to numerous co-branded marketing materials and services which help them assist their existing customers as well as find new business. Our Realtor referral directory, customized listing sheets, broker open catering and virtual tours are just a few of the tools on our Realtor Portal that agents take advantage of to get ahead and grow their business.
How do you think changes in mortgage rates next year will affect buyers and agents? Mortgage rates are at historical lows and housing affordability is at a historical high. It is a fantastic time to buy a home. Even if mortgage rates tick up 50 to 100 basis points in 2012, affordability will still be very attractive. Once the large inventory of bank-owned properties is sold and consumers continue to become more comfortable that housing values have stabilized, there could be strong, pent-up demand to fuel the housing market in 2012 and beyond.
What indicators are you watching to keep up with the market and its changes as we move into next year? Housing and employment are the two overriding factors that need to improve for the economy to stabilize and grow over the long-term. Housing and jobs are also strongly correlated and will reinforce each other when they do begin to rebound. When a rebound in housing and employment starts to occur in the next several quarters, we will likely see prolonged and above-trend economic growth for some time.
What are Guaranteed Rate’s plans and goals for 2012? Our goal for 2012 is to fund $10 billion in mortgages for consumers while maintaining our superior level of customer service that differentiates us in the marketplace. We are very optimistic about the coming year and look forward to working with our Realtor partners and their clients in achieving our shared goals in 2012 and beyond.