Going from a volatile rate environment in the latter half of 2022 to a market with lower, more stabilized rates, there’s optimism spreading across the industry that buyers will come back. Just two weeks into 2023, Guaranteed Rate‘s top LO and managing director Ben Cohen has also seen an increase in inbound calls from buyers wanting pre-approval for mortgages.
While a lack of inventory still remains an issue, Cohen expects first-time buyers to come back to the market now that they’ve become more realistic with mortgage rates and rents soaring.
“I think you’re going to see a much bigger push for first-time homebuyers more than anything because of the rate lockdown effects,” Cohen said in an interview with HousingWire. “You own a home at 3% [and] you want to go buy a new home at a rate of 6%? You are probably not going to do that unless you really have to do that.”
After originating $1.66 billion in 2021 to become the third-ranked LO in the country on Scotsman Guide, Cohen’s production volume dropped 60% in 2022 to about $647 million.
Lower production volume means cutting staff and restructuring to better focus on the purchase market, Cohen said. Training LOs and getting on sales calls with real estate agents, insurance agents and wealth managers are what Cohen is prioritizing to drum up sales in a market where he expects rates to be in the 5% levels.
Read on for more about Cohen’s business strategies for 2023, his take on the housing market and what mortgage products to pay attention to this year.
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Connie Kim: There seems to be optimism in the mortgage industry at the start of the new year. How have the first two weeks of January