Friday, November 16, 2012

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.

For many of us, 2012 has been an exceptionally tough year ending in an extraordinarily disappointing election. We have seen so many negative changes and so much bad news, while being painfully aware that that we are weeks away from another onslaught of bad news in the form of massive new regulations,  that those of us who work in real estate and mortgage lending might feel stumped at my mother's dinner table next week. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving week, I have compiled a list of 4 things that all of us in our industry can give thanks for on November 22.

1. We still have low interest rates (for now at least).   For all of the problems we have had with rule changes, underwriting changes and guideline changes, 2012 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 2's. I realize that this is mixed blessing at best--a short term boon with long-term inflationary implications--but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I choose to focus on the bright side of the situation. 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 (a trend which is likely to continue into 2013.) Yes, I know that this is also 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 (provided that they can navigate the minefield of strict guidelines waiting for them.)

3. We still have access to great programs (for now at least). 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 loan on the Home Path investment program with 10% down and no mortgage insurance and a 3.875% fixed rate for 15 years. Although we mourn the loss of some of our past programs, great financing still exists for qualified buyers.

4. 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.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

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