Mortgage president’s advice to weary first-time buyers

"If you're unprepared you’re going to find yourself very frustrated and feeling disappointed"

Mortgage president’s advice to weary first-time buyers

With more than 35 years’ experience in the industry, Inlanta Mortgage president Paul Buege (pictured) knows as much as there is to know about the often tortuous path homebuyers have to negotiate to make their dreams come true.

“Follow a plan. You can’t come into it casually. If you’re unprepared you’re going to find yourself very frustrated and feeling disappointed, maybe thinking that homeownership can't be a part of the dream,” he said.

Buege believes good people-management skills are crucial in facilitating the process, aware that purchasing a home can often be a fraught and traumatic experience, especially for first-time buyers.

His advice is simple. “Focus on what you can control and don’t spend too much energy on the things you can’t,” he said.

“We always recommend starting with the lender first, which is contrary to what most consumers do today,” he added.

Buege noted another common mistake, which was to approach agents who didn’t like to work with first-time buyers. “My advice is to pick an agent who’s comfortable with first-time homebuyers - 70% of our business comes with agents who work with (this client base),” he stressed.

Customers should accept that borrower and homebuyer “fatigue” is often part of the buying process but that it should not put them off from seeing the bigger picture.

“Success happens for those who can look beyond the moment,” he said.

“Find a fantastic lender and a great realtor, build a team, and in two months to even a year you’ll be smiling. Consumers need to feel empowered - that’s the central theme with first-time buyers. There are headwinds, but it’s not as daunting as they think,” he said, adding that knowledge is key.

“There are certainly obstacles in the marketplace, such as rising home prices and questions about affordability. But while all that is very real it’s not much unlike what people faced maybe 20-30 years ago, when they were facing interest rates of 13-14%.”

The upside of COVID

With 43 office branches and a footprint in 27 States, the Pewaukee, WI-based company has grown exponentially under Buege’s helm, even during the pandemic.

He said the independent mortgage lender had not only weathered the COVID storm but fully embraced the technological changes that followed in its wake, predicting that the virtual work experience in the industry “was here to stay” and that the pandemic-enforced office exodus should be seen as an opportunity for companies to grow.

He said: “What the (pandemic) was signaling to everyone in our industry was that mortgage lending has become very automated.

“Customers love the experience maybe better than before. They love the idea that they can jump on a Zoom meeting; that they don’t have to drive across town and find a parking spot and get in an elevator to meet the lender.

“It makes sense. Customers still want to talk to professionals, but they love the fact I can send them an electronic document to sign via an app. We’re going to see more of that in the years to come.”