Fostering fearlessness

by Scott Klocksin

In a time of rising rates and economic insecurity, homebuyers may be reluctant to make a move even if they’re otherwise ready. According to Tricia Brouwers, assistant vice president and business development manager for Wintrust Mortgage, a seasoned mortgage professional can help your clients zero in on what really matters. “It’s not just about rate. We should be talking about whether now is the optimal time to buy,” Brouwers says. “We focus on relationship and not on rate, so they focus on fact, rather than on fear.”

And the mission to dispel that fear works on both sides. Brouwers says a good mortgage professional shouldn’t be afraid to sit down face-to-face and take a barrage of questions from potential borrowers. “Clients will have questions. They should. All questions are welcome,” she says. She often sees buyers who have a particular number in mind in terms of monthly housing costs but haven’t figured out what bills and expenses are included in that equation. “They don’t know what’s most important to them until they start to ask questions. I don’t want them to get paralysis by analysis doing all this on their own with technology.”

Most agents are acquainted with the idea that inaccurate online information makes their jobs harder. But it’s a fact of life for lenders too. Brouwers says negative economic news can easily stoke fear in potential borrowers, even if it has nothing to do with their particular situation. “I liken it to the WebMD formula. If I put my symptoms into WebMD, I could be dying by noon,” she says. On the other hand, faceless calculators that claim to know how much a buyer has to earn to live in this or that neighborhood can be misleading too. “Qualification and comfort range are two totally different things. They may be qualified for more than they want to pay, or vice versa. There are some properties where it’s worth the stretch. It’s about how you define success for yourself.”

The more information lenders, real estate professionals and consumers have at their fingertips, the more complex the picture becomes. “There are far more complicated scenarios today than there are creampuff scenarios. We’re able to take a deep look at somebody’s financial history,” Brouwers says. That’s why it’s important for agents to have good working relationships with both their clients and local lenders they know and trust. “Are you working with someone that you could be in the foxhole with?”

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