Originators poised for 'wins all through 2024' as fog clears

Experience of recent turbulence has equipped originators well for coming quarters, says executive

Originators poised for 'wins all through 2024' as fog clears

Despite the US mortgage market’s prolonged downturn of recent times, plenty of opportunity is presenting itself for mortgage originators – and the opening months of 2024 have seen encouraging levels of activity across the market.

With the market dip of 2022 and 2023 perhaps inevitably accompanied by a wave of departures from the originator space, those that remained have seen busy times at the beginning of the year as would-be homeowners resume their purchasing plans.

Samantha Shelton (pictured top), founder at Michigan-based Align Lending, told Mortgage Professional America that originators who withstood last year’s turmoil were well positioned to grow their business amid signs that the market is slowly beginning to turn.

“As tough as the market has been, there is tremendous opportunity out there right now,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of originators that have unfortunately left the lending scene – but we’ve also had tons of originators that have pushed through and it’s showing how the market is turning for us. It has been busy.

“With that, I see a lot of originators that have really doubled down. I see a lot of education, not just with our clients but also the partners, and that makes for a really fruitful market when we have the opportunity partnered with the tools to succeed.”

A combination of educated buyers and originators who have emerged stronger than ever from the recent market turbulence, Shelton said, could result in “wins all through 2024” for resilient mortgage professionals.

Top of mind throughout those eventful times has been a focus on education, and making sure clients and borrowers are fully up to speed on what kind of market they’re currently facing.

Current market more balanced than those of recent years

The ultra-low-rate environment that prevailed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has long vanished – but Shelton said it’s important for borrowers to realize that that was far from a normal market.

“As originators, we’ve really taken on the piece of making sure that our clients are really knowledgeable around this as a healthy market,” she said. “That sticker shock of COVID and where rates fell to – that is not a normal market.

“So I think that we’ve been really good at navigating and leveraging through some crazy highs and lows that have been happening, but we’re getting really great at making sure that our buyers are confident when they’re buying.”

Despite rates currently being high compared with those pandemic lows, there’s plenty to recommend about today’s market for prospective homebuyers, not least the absence of frenzied bidding wars like those that prevailed when the market was at its peak.

A more manageable work-life balance has emerged for originators, too, perched at a sweet spot between the grueling workload of the supercharged pandemic market and the sudden slowdown that arrived when the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates.

“There is a great balance of being able to have a fruitful market, but also being able to live your normal life,” Shelton said. “We aren’t seeing the extreme, over-hectic work environment of COVID, but we’re also getting back into a space where we have more regular shoppers. So that makes a peaceful journey for us as originators.”

Originators poised to thrive after recent stormy waters

The last few years in the US mortgage market have shone a light on the value of originators and how difficult their job can be – but they’ve also helped condition seasoned originators with the tools and skills required to achieve even greater success when the market inevitably begins to pick up again.

“I think that this market has really shown us that being an originator is not an easy task,” Shelton said. “There are a lot of pieces that are fluid, that move around in the real estate world.

“We just have to be really great as originators to adapt to the environment that we’re in, being open-minded to new programs or having a seminar to teach your clients or your real estate partners. I think that that is really important in this market.”

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