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 Richard Staley, the chief production officer with Angel Oak Home Loans. A 26-year veteran of the home lending industry, Richard served 900 customers annually and closed $163 million in residential mortgages before joining the management team of HomeBanc Mortgage Corporation, where he led 300 associates and oversaw $3 billion in loan origination. Today, Richard has more than $1.6 billion in mortgages under management.
Atlanta Agent (AA): Do you think the lending climate will continue to improve next year?
Richard Staley (RS): Demographics alone will have a huge impact on housing demand next year, as Millennials officially became the majority of the U.S. labor force this year. As more Millennials enter the job force and Boomers leave for retirement, they’ll continue to dominate the market. Their earnings potential will only continue to increase, and eventually, they’ll start to look toward the housing market. In fact, according to the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, only 9 percent of young renters between ages 25 to 39 intend to continue renting their homes; 91 percent claim they are likely to buy a home at some point, which leaves the market ripe for the taking by this generation.
It’s clear that the Millennial generation will drive the housing market this coming year. Knowing what Millennials are looking for in their first homes and how they work best with agents and lenders will be key to fostering successful relationships and fulfilling their needs.
AA: How would higher interest rates affect housing, if at all?
RS: As we come ever close to the Federal Reserve potentially raising the short-term federal funds rate in December, economists and the like are forced to speculate about how higher rates will affect the broader market. However, it’s not just the hike itself that determines the impact – it’s the rate at which rates increase over time.
Based on the forecasted presumption that rates will rise slowly over the next three years, I do not think a rate hike this December will have a large effect on housing. Rates will still remain at historically low levels in the foreseeable future, though some hectic activity could occur as borrowers try to lock in rates before hikes take effect. We won’t begin to see a huge impact on the housing market until rates reach much higher levels.
AA: Finally, how can lenders foster strong communication with agents?
RS: At Angel Oak Home Loans, there are 12 points of communication from the start of an application to closing. At each point along the way, we are sure that all parties involved, including agents and potential homeowners, are receiving electronic updates to keep everyone in the know. It’s vitally important for lenders to keep agents in the loop at every step along the way.
It’s also important to know how agents and potential homebuyers are communicating. Technology has changed the way homebuyers talk to their agents, especially Millennials; and, considering the rate at which Millennials will enter the housing market in coming years, agents and lenders will need to adapt to keep up with the changing landscape. Quick and informative messages are key to communicating, so we’re adapting our strategy to suit the needs of this growing generation.