Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Thanks

Every Thanksgiving for as many years as I can remember, my mother had a tradition at Thanksgiving dinner.  After my father prayed over the food, my mother asked each of us to name one thing that had happened in the last year that we were thankful for.  As I got older, knowing that I would have to state what I was grateful for, I started thinking about the year a couple of weeks in advance of the holiday, and I found that even in difficult years, I had a lot to be thankful for.  My mother's tradition, which she continues to this day, has helped me to really think about the meaning of Thanksgiving each year.

This year has seen so many negative changes and so much bad news that those of us who work in real estate and mortgage lending might feel stumped at my mother's dinner table the day after tomorrow.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving week, I have compiled a list of 5 things that all of us in our industry can give thanks for on November 25.

1.  We still have low interest rates.  For all of the problems we have had with rule changes, underwriting changes and guideline changes, 2010 has seen record low interest rates.  When I started in this industry in 1998, I would have never believed it possible that I would be financing people at fixed interest rates in the 3's.  Those low interest rates have allowed those of us in lending to weather tough times and perform a real service for borrowers who now have fixed rates lower than we ever imagined.

2.  We are seeing lower housing prices.  Yes, I know that this is a mixed blessing at best, but think about it.  With underwriting standards so tight, many borrowers could not qualify at all if housing prices had not dropped.  Lower prices mean that many home buyers who had been priced out of an accelerating market can actually afford a home.

3. We have access to great programs.  We have seen a huge number of products go away, but there are still some great loan programs that allow borrowers to qualify for financing.  Programs like Fannie Mae's Home Path give borrowers an opportunity to buy a home with conventional financing, a reduced down payment and no mortgage insurance.  I just finished quoting a borrower for Home Path investment loan with 10% down and no mortgage insurance and a 5.25% fixed rate for 30 years.  Although we mourn the loss of some of our past programs, great financing still exists for qualified buyers.

4. We have greater FHA availability.  This is huge.  Back in the early part of the decade, the broker industry lobbied repeatedly for HUD to open up FHA to brokers, totally without success.  Now that the market is FHA dependent, HUD has opened up access to brokers.  This means more competition and better pricing options for consumers.

5. We are still alive, and we are not alone! "Don't worry about things--food, drink and clothes. For you already have life and a body--and they are more important than what to eat and what to wear. Look at the birds!  They don't worry about what to eat--they don't need to sow or reap or store up food--for your heavenly Father feeds them...And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don't worry  about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you....So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time."  (Matthew 6: 25-34 TLB)

Now that's something we can be thankful for every day!  Happy Thanksgiving.

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