Real estate is a team sport. You need to have a solid game plan, be ready for some serious competition, and have the best lineup of players to go for the W. Not sure why we tried to go with a sports metaphor there, but you get the drift. You have worked with GW Real Estate long enough to know that we believe real estate should be a team effort because together we can do more for you. And just like in sports, we are in it to win. Ok, seriously, enough sports talk! Getting you into your dream home is always our goal and having an amazing mortgage partner is our (not so) secret weapon. We work hand-in-hand with incredible lenders every day including Kris Steele, the Team Leader of LendScout.
Today, we sat down with Kris to hear what’s happening in the mortgage world right now, the do’s and don’ts of applying for a loan, and what you can anticipate rate-wise for the remainder of the year…
Kris, tell us a little bit about yourself and LendScout.
I am from Columbus, Ohio and have been in Charlotte since 2003. I’ve lived in Ballantyne, University, South Charlotte, Central Charlotte (Dilworth), West Charlotte (Wilmore), and now East Charlotte (Oakhurst). I know the city pockets well and consider myself somewhat of an expert. I’m lucky to now have a portfolio of living experiences and investments around the City and continue to seek out new niche spots — as investment or food opportunities.
About me — I love coffee. I eat a lot of food and am kept in check by my amazing wife, Erin. She and I have three kids—Henry (7), May (4), and Sully (2). The three of them + Abe and Basil, our 10-year-old dogs, keep us active and engaged daily. We love spending time riding bikes, playing outside, and planting trees (read: I’m an environmentalist). We also love spending time in the mountains and at the beach. Oh, Charlotte FC is a new fan favorite as were proud supporters of them as well. We’re pretty much a plain family with lots of kid energy.
What’s happening in the mortgage landscape currently?
It’s bonkers? Nah, not really. We’re so lucky to be in Charlotte, a place that continues to grow and diversify in so many ways. A housing shortage is making us feel some pain right now, but it will balance out at some point. And those rates, oh those rates! They are ‘higher’ than what we’ve experienced, but the 2s and 3s hopefully never exist again — i.e. let’s not have another COVID-19.
So, it’s all relative, and high(er) rates and high(er) prices have led to a change in perspective. Most are moving now because they need to, not because they want to — a new family member, job, retirement, etc. But the reality is, in NC home values have consistently increased and I believe in 2022 at a rate of nearly 20%. Then on top of that Charlotte grew closer to 30% year over year. It’s worth it to buy. Who wouldn’t spend 6% to make 20%+?
Even at this time (I’m fortunate, I know), I’m actively looking for opportunities. And a gentle reminder that you can always refi if/when appropriate.
For potential buyers who may be intimidated by the current mortgage rates, what can they do to aid in affordability?
A couple of thoughts — and all easier said than done:
- Keep car payments low.
- Manage discretionary spending. I firmly believe it’s our duty to go out and spend at coffee shops, restaurants, etc. #keepitlocal, but I also recognize the importance of frugality. Buy at a farmer’s market. Stay off amazon (sorry, Amazon). Every dollar counts right now.
- Buy in new pockets — of course, we (most of us) want to live in the updated home — but updating yourself may be worth it too. Our first purchase was in an area that I think many feared, and now it’s a desirable area in Charlotte. Things take time to mature, but a way to help them to grow is to invest in them.
What is a common misconception that buyers have about the loan/home buying process?
Sorry, more than one…
- That it’s hard. I just got this text today: “Ah, thanks Kris! That’s great news! Thanks to you and your team for making this painless.”
- That sellers won’t negotiate. YES, THEY WILL. Not every time, but if you don’t ask, you don’t know.
- 20% down is better than any number that’s less… not true. Call me, we can discuss 🙂
What should buyers do or avoid doing to best prepare for applying for a mortgage?
- Unless you want to be bombarded by SPAM, use this link to opt out of third party calls. It takes 5 days to process and will save you so much headache. Your realtors/friends/etc. have recommended you to someone because they trust them. And, as a relationship person, if you send someone to me, I inherently trust them to cover me, be honest with me, and do what’s right. You can always shop around for a rate, no problem, no offense, but to be called 1,000x is annoying, so opt out upfront.
- Get pre-approved early. Be ready with your ideas and options before you go see a house. This is a VERY SERIOUS topic so take the time to find someone who cares to have a complete conversation with you.
- Avoid getting your parents too vested — what they know/did is different. Times have changed. For example, many legacy homeowners suggest 20% down — that makes sense because PMI used to be so expensive. Now it’s not (as expensive) so it may make more sense to do 10% down or 5%. It all depends on the situation. Again, get approved upfront so you know your options and trust the person is working their hardest to understand your situation and needs.
What are some of the questions that buyers/homeowners should be asking their mortgage partner?
What’s my rate? LOL, just kidding. Although important, it shouldn’t be your leading question. Most of us are all selling the same thing — i.e. rate — just like coffee, we’re selling a good and my cup isn’t (or shouldn’t be) 10x more expensive. Yes, you’ll find variations in cost, but they shouldn’t be drastic. What you should be asking: how fast can you turn a loan, are your appraisers local, is your process internal?
What do you anticipate happening with mortgage rates for the remainder of 2023?
I see them staying flat, maybe going down slightly. No major long-term swings, but the day-to-day volatility is likely to make us all anxious… but trust your people. They’ll get you through it.
Do you have any more mortgage questions for Kris? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the LendScout team. You won’t regret it. All of the GW Real Estate clients who have worked with Kris and his team sing their praises.
LendScout by American Security Mortgage
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