Thriving in a post-pandemic real estate market

Why you shouldn't sweat the small stuff

Thriving in a post-pandemic real estate market

You’d be hard pressed to find an industry that’s been more changed by the past few years than mortgage. The rise and fall of COVID, massive economic downturns and creeping inflation rates have seen the housing market pushed from pillar to post – never quite sure what the next few months will bring.

For Mike Fagan (pictured), senior VP of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate Affinity, he believes the post-pandemic market meant a return to basics – demanding a more competitive and strategic approach.

“It’s been a grind, but I’m fortunate,” he told MPA. “I’ve done this for a long time and have built a solid business and referral base. It’s become much more competitive for everyone companywide - but I’ve kind of learned, thankfully in my latter years here, don’t sweat the small stuff. Just keep doing the things that you know work.”

The power of proactive service

Fagan’s philosophy centers around client engagement and relationship building. In a market that’s become even more cutthroat, he believes in the power of personalization and proactive service.

“[It’s about] being active,” he explained. “Not just sticking your head in the sand and hoping it’ll get better. Go out there and be on the offense, not the defense. We have a great leader within Guaranteed Rate who preaches and practices this.”

The mortgage industry has always been famously competitive – however, the pandemic and the knock on impact to the economy has transformed it into a ‘dog eat dog’ market. The industry’s competitiveness, according to Fagan, is a double-edged sword. It has led to a thinning of the ranks, with fewer loan officers likely to sustain their positions. However, for those who weather the storm, the opportunities are ripe. 

“It’s been said many times that there’s going to be a thinning out in our business,” added Fagan. “There’ll be fewer loan officers getting their licenses. But those who do survive are going to thrive.”

And all of this competition is only being exacerbated by emerging tech. Tools such as chatbots, generative AI, roboadvisors – like it or loathe it, technology is now a pre-requisite in real estate. While acknowledging the efficiencies and advancements brought by AI and automation, Fagan maintains a cautious approach and expresses concerns about compensation being diluted by technology and automation.

“Technology will continue to permeate the business more and more - both from an operation standpoint, sales standpoint, origination standpoint,” he said. “I’m thankful to be in the latter end of my career rather than the beginning in this business. Because I’m sure I’d be anticipating a career change at some point in the future if I was 31 years old now.”

Despite the AI revolution, Fagan is still optimistic about what the future holds for his industry.

“I feel confident going into 2024,” he told MPA. “I’ve seen an uptick with more leads coming in, I still see there’s plenty of interest and people who’d rather own than rent - that’s not changing. Life isn’t stopping. You know, people are still growing families. They’re still downsizing, they’re still getting married, still divorcing, they’re still dying, you know, all those things are still happening. So there’s still a market out there. It’s just a matter of getting a bigger piece of that market share.”