Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week, we talked with Megann C. Lawrence, a Realtor with Keller Williams Intown Atlanta. A graduate of Temple University, Megann was a double major in neuroscience and psychology; primarily working in the cities of Smyrna and Vinings, Megann is well versed in property marketing and seller, buyer and tenant representation.
Atlanta Agent (AA): Are you worried at all about how rising mortgage rates could impact your business?
Megann C. Lawrence (MCL): Mortgage rates concern many agents, because when they increase, we see a decrease in home purchasing. On top of that, we’re dealing with the Millennial crisis, with many young adults not wanting to commit to purchasing and instead renting. So yes, I’m definitely concerned.
When it comes to today’s clients, you have two groups: you have clients well-educated on mortgages and rates, clients who are up-to-date on mortgage markets; and then you have first-time buyers, who are less educated in these areas. So on one hand, you have clients who are concerned about what their rates will be, and on the other hand, you have clients who are simply just happy to be out there looking for homes.
That said, I do not see the rising rates pushing prospective buyers off the fence; because when buyers are ready to buy they are ready to buy and the buyers who are concerned with the rates will refinance when necessary because they tend to understand the mortgage game. If rates push them away from buying. In most cases, they’re already on the fence – they’ve been on the fence for awhile – and higher rates will not push them in the either direction it just becomes an excuse.
AA: How’s the lending landscape for your clients? Still tough, or improving?
MCL: Being young to the market, I can confidently say that lending is an up-and-down roller coaster. It’s much harder getting to the closing table than it used to be.
There are many reasons – credit scores are not as high as they once were, documentation requirements are stricter and many Millennials do not have reliable employment numbers from during the downturn. Those factors all come to a head when it comes to buying a home. The amount of money banks are willing to lend has also decreased. You’re seeing many $100,000 and $150,000 loans in markets where homes average $200,000 to $250,000.
AA: Finally, what methods do you follow to keep all your ducks in a row, when things get busy?
MCL: I have a background in psychology and neuroscience, so I’m good at educating my clients. I do a good job at teaching them on how the game is played, and in approaching them in a calm and educating matter. That way, they’ll know ahead of time what they are getting themselves into, say if a bidding war arises, or homes in their price range are in short supply, or if underwriters need an additional document ASAP.
I like my clients to be educated. If they have the knowledge, and they know what can happen during the process, it will feel normal when such devastating home purchasing developments occur. My clients know it’s not only happening to them, and they know how to handle it with my help.