Mortgage Professionals Should be Optimistic About the Future

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Th e M Rep o RT | 13 " cover story ousing sales are getting better after the recession: Are we better off?" This headline jumped off the home page of last month, delivering a dose of pes- simism to what was otherwise a positive story about improving local home sales that appeared on the website of The Patriot-News, central Pennsylvania's newspaper of record. Perhaps the choice of words illustrates just how difficult it is for anyone to deliver upbeat real estate or lending news without first peppering the headline with pessimistic overtones. Yet nega- tive headlines at times defy recent housing reports—many of which come with silver linings, or at least the promise of the American Dream's survival. On one hand, homeowners are sitting on equity in certain mar- kets and failing to seize the day as prices bubble over in several metropolitan areas, giving them the chance to potentially maxi- mize profits on sales. Meanwhile, homebuyers are confident that homeownership is in their future, but they seem unaware of just how many mortgage opportunities are still available to first-time buy- ers—perhaps, say industry insiders, because of negative attention focusing on the lending landscape. In the second half of 2014, Wells Fargo released a survey of 2,017 adults of homebuying age and concluded that predictions of a generation eschewing homeowner- ship altogether are unfounded. In fact, 68 percent of those surveyed said "now is a good time to buy a home," according to Wells Fargo's "How America Views Homeownership" report. While most said they are still positive about the homeownership experience, anecdotal reports from Wells Fargo professionals suggest potential buyers are skittish about applying for mortgages and fearful they may not qualify. "I think most consumers still think it is an obtainable goal," said Elyse Schulman, a SVP at Wells Fargo, the nation's leading mort- gage lender. Schulman remembers optimism around homeownership dropping during the downturn and then steadily picking up since 2012. "I think there has been little change from what I can see," the executive added. There has been no damage to people's perceptions of buying a home, Schulman told MReport. "People still want those homes." Jordan Petkovski, VP and chief appraiser for TSI Appraisal in Detroit, told MReport that home valuation "news coming in from around the country is generally very positive." He added, "It's my opinion that increasing new construction activity and the beneficial economics associated with owning compared to renting in a high percent of mar- kets is a good sign for homeowners and homeownership. " But even if Petkovski sees all the positives in today's market, The good news: With lending loosening, potential homeowners and mortgage professionals should be optimistic about the future. The bad news: Nobody's getting the good news.

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