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RCBJ Talks Mortgages, Technology, Interest Rates With President of QuestStar Mortgage & Joyce Realty
National Mortgage News, Bloomberg, and other media have reported steady layoffs in the mortgage origination and servicing industry, with additional layoffs expected if/when rates rise again. Layoffs affect large players, with small and medium mortgage brokers holding their own. RCBJ catches up with Kevin Joyce for insight on where the market it right now. He’s also looking to hire a full-time loan processor.
Q What is happening at QuestStar? Are you experiencing a slowdown in origination/refinance activity?
A While we, like everybody else, are seeing fewer refinances, we are seeing an uptick in purchase mortgage activity. In fact, our pre-approvals are at an all-time high. We are also seeing an uptick in new listings in our markets which creates demand for mortgages.
Q Have AI (Artificial Intelligence) and technology affected you adversely? Or positively?
A To date, we have not seen an impact to our business from AI. Technology is our friend. It increases our reach and enables potential QuestStar Mortgage clients to access our website and fill in a mortgage application online QuestStarmortgage.com.
Q With the rules loosening on the ability to write loans through the internet from any broker or lender, how do you keep your market share/customers?
A QuestStar Mortgage was approved to take loans online so the enhancement of the rules should help us grow our market share. Consumers can go to QuestStarmortgage.com to see our extensive portfolio of products and services including HELOCS (Home Equity Lines of Credit).
Q What new tools are available to your company to help keep it competitive? Without giving away any secrets, how do you maintain your volume, and if you can’t, how can you derive the same or additional income from fewer transactions? Or is it about cutting costs, and keeping the business lean?
A In response to rising interest rates, we have begun offering a Lock & Shop product. This allows us to offer rate locks of up to 180 days (about six months), which is great in a rising interest rate environment.
Q Have you had trouble keeping staff or finding new hires? Good brokers and admins are valuable. What do you do to keep them? Has your growth temporarily slowed?
A We are a lean organization, but we are growing rapidly. We need to hire an additional onsite full-time loan processor. We offer a base salary, overrides on closed loans, and a limited benefit package. If you know any experienced loan processors looking, please have them send their CVs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q What do you see for the future regarding rates? 12 months? 24 months?
A Based on the FED actions and indications they plan to institute up to seven rate hikes in 2022. The FED targeted a year-end 2022 key rate in a range of 3.25 percent to 3.5 percent and then to rise further in 2023 to between 3.75 percent and 4 percent. To put this in perspective, rates are still within normal ranges and are nowhere near the US historical high of 16.63 percent in 1981.
Q What factors are you relying on to reach your predictions? What recommendations are you making to clients? Secure the rate now before it goes up? Or hold on until rates come down a bit?
A We rely on market conditions and facts to make our client recommendations. At this point we are suggesting our client move forward and initiate an application and utilize our stop and lock product to lock in current rates before we see any additional rate increases.
Q How easy will it be to refinance in the next year or two?
A Refinancing is a simple procedure. Families have many financing needs whether it is for education, a car, home remodeling or debt consolidation. Even at today’s circa 6 percent mortgage rates, this is frequently lower than personal loan interest rates and offers a longer repayment schedule. For people with equity in their homes, refinancing is an attractive option.
Kevin Joyce, a licensed real estate and mortgage broker, owns QuestStar Mortgage & Joyce Realty. The company has offices in New York and New Jersey