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It’s been a down year, but Shant Banosian has been busy.
Banosian, executive vice president at Guaranteed Rate and a loan officer near Boston, spent the year grabbing market share and lining things up for when the slower market ends.
That end might be in sight, as the Federal Reserve has indicated it is done with its cycle of rate hikes and may be prepared to cut the federal funds rate several times next year.
Banosian is among the top loan officers in the U.S. for the past five years, an accolade he expects to hold onto again this year. He said he’s hearing excitement from real estate agents who are preparing for the spring buying season after a slow 2023. If that happens, he expects a return to the competitive landscape that marked the COVID housing market.
Banosian is slated to speak at Inman Connect New York in January. He spoke with Inman about the landscape for mortgage lenders heading into 2024. Below is a transcript of that interview, edited for brevity and clarity.
Inman: Where do you expect rates to be this time next year?
Banosian: This time next year I think rates will be in the high fives — somewhere between 5.5 percent and 5.875 percent. Right now they’re hovering around 6.5 percent. I think that’s what we’ll be — under 6 percent.
What are you seeing are the ‘magic numbers’ for getting buyers to act?
Anything with like a six or a five in front of it kind of feels like a normal market. In 2022, when rates went from 3 percent to 6 percent, the market froze and no one did anything. Now we’re celebrating 6 percent and consumers are excited about it.
If rates go in the fives you’re going to see massive bidding wars, big-time home price appreciation. You’re going to see it be difficult to get into the housing market as a buyer.
What are you hearing from agents right now as they prepare for spring?
In September rates were [in the] sevens; in October the headlines were 8 percent. Most listing agents as they’re talking to sellers are saying, “You can put it on the market now. The challenge is demand has weakened and rates are 8 percent so it’s unaffordable. Or we can put it on in the spring.”
By the time rates came down it was too late to get the house on the market because it was the holidays. You have a lot of inventory going to hit in the spring like it always does, but you’ve got buyers who were boxed out of the market for years.
How competitive is it right now in mortgage?
Very competitive. Some of the people are having volumes way down across the board. People are scratching and clawing. You see some margin compression because everyone is racing to the bottom.
You might have had a loan officer doing 10-15 a month before. That same person might be doing three to four a month now. If they lose one it’s a big deal right now.
What’s your value proposition? Are you competing on price or more on level of service?
It’s literally both those things. I lead with educating my consumers and partners, showing them the opportunities in the marketplace and helping them win. We help our buyers compete with certainty and speed. I’m the best loan officer in the country, I’m going to deliver all the time.
I used this year as a way to get in front of all my partners and clients and use it as a way to grab market share.
Why should agents work with you rather than, say, Rocket Mortgage or another competitor?
My knowledge base and communication skills are going to far exceed any type of call center environment. I’ve built my entire business based on the purchase market and what agents and clients need.
Those call centers or refi companies do purchases because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. You’re going to get me and my team, truly, 24/7. We can help strategically in terms of dates and how to position an offer.