Is the shift to a buyer's market underway?

Veteran lender sees the transformation coming inside six months

Is the shift to a buyer's market underway?

Amid a topsy-turvy residential sector, add this upcoming shift – the sector’s transformation from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market some six months from now.

At least that’s the assessment of seasoned veteran Toby Potter, the CEO of Dallas-based private lender Global Integrity Finance. He spoke to Mortgage Professional America about the current state of the market along with his projections for the future.

“Over the last five years, it’s been a seller’s market,” he said during a telephone interview. “People have been able to sell their home at top dollar, usually 20%, 25% above asking price because it’ a bidding war. And mainly It’s a bidding war because people could borrow money to buy a house at 2%, 3%.”

Those historically low interest rates from the not-so-distant past changed the game for many: “When you’re looking at a 30-year mortgage that’s down in the threes, people that couldn’t afford to be a homeowner could now afford to be a homeowner,” Potter said. “They didn’t have to wait for a raise or a promotion. They could now borrow money cheaper and make affordable housing a reality.”

The market takes a turn

But then, the market took a turn: “That all changed at the end of last year when the Fed saw the inflation rate was skyrocketing and the influx of capital into the market through the CARES Act and all that wasn’t helping the economy – in fact, it was hurting it.” He referred to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law by the former US president, Donald Trump, in 2020.

“So the Fed came back and said ‘we need to start raising interest rates, bring inflation down.’ So they now raised the Federal Reserve from zero to 6% and it may go even higher than that in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. What that does to the market is cause a lot of banks to pull back, which means the guidelines are tighter for leverage and approvability – putting [fewer] buyers on the market for these properties, causing seller to not be able to get as much for a property or pull their house off the market. That’s a negative for the primary residence side of the world, but it’s a positive for people investing in real estate.”

Who can capitalize on the shift? “People that are taking their retirement funds and building a ‘mailbox money’ pipeline where they’re getting rent checks, residual income and stuff like that,” Potter said.

“This is a positive because now sellers are having to drop the price of their house, and it’s not a seller’s market. We project that over the next six months it will turn into a buyer’s market where buyers can go in there and make really good offers on properties – making it affordable for them to buy, rehab, and turn into rental or resell it. There are always two sides of the coin, and this is what we’re seeing. We’re kind of excited about it to be honest.”

For investors, Potter said, there are good times ahead: “For real estate investors, there’s a tremendous amount of optimism on the horizon because for the last three to five years, real estate investors were buying properties at the top end of the market and above,” Potter said. “They were basically losing money but building a portfolio.”

Never seen anything like it

Whatever the future holds, Potter is still trying to take in all that’s happened in the industry, he told MPA. “I’ve been in the industry since 1994,” he began. “I haven’t seen anything like what the government has done over the last four years. I’ve never seen in all the years in mortgage lending seen interest rates at zero – government base money at zero. I’ve never seen the government just deploy so much capital into a community as they’ve done.

“We did see the big crash of 2008 where the lending had gotten turned upside down and it caused a financial crash and real estate crash. The good news from that is we were able to recover immediately and fully and understand this was a problem that needed to be solved. This delivering rates to zero so the banks can lend cheaper didn’t make any sense. Now this recovery is going to be longer. It’s going to take a lot longer because they started something about expectation and entitlements that can’t be undone.”

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