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Top Texas Originator Sees No Surrender To 2023

Big cities will determine the battle

Headshot of Keith Griffin, senior contributing editor at American Business Media
Keith Griffin
Top Texas Originator
Brian McAuley

Lone Star LO Magazine conducted a Q&A with Brian McAuley, a 15-year veteran loan originator and the producing branch manager for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in Dallas, on the state of the Texas market, what lies ahead, and what steps mortgage originators should take for a smoother 2023.

Q: What are interest rates doing to the Texas market? Are the effects different than what is being seen nationally?

Rising interest rates affect everyone. However, geographically strong markets like the state of Texas are positioned well and will be able to absorb the changes a lot better. Texas is constantly growing and business-friendly, so the amount of people and companies continuing to come here bodes well during challenging times like these.

Q: Are some parts of the state doing better than others when it comes to the effect of interest rates?

I think the big cities handle things the best. There is just more economic growth and capital in the big markets, so the resources give bigger cities the ability to make adjustments and also take advantage of opportunities.

Q: How are they affecting home prices?

Home prices are starting to drop, but it really is specific to the price points. Anything under $500,000 still has a lot of demand, $500,000- $800,000 has cooled off but still has interest and anything $1 million or over seems to be cooling off the fastest and  most open to negotiating.

Q: Overall, are certain parts of Texas doing better than others?

I think Dallas is still doing the best overall because of its economic diversity. Dallas is well balanced amongst multiple industries, so it doesn’t suffer as badly during times like these.  Austin is great, but they had the biggest price spike in the country, and now they are cooling off the fastest. Austin is also heavy in the tech stock world, and that industry isn’t doing so well which has caused buyers to press pause. Houston is doing OK but it’s an oil-driven economy, so they are up or down based on that alone.

Q: Who is winning in this market? How can more Texas mortgage professionals do better?

Smart Realtors, smart mortgage advisors and smart buyers are winning in this market. Collectively, they all work as a team and see the enormous amount of opportunity not only to buy a house, but to get a great deal on the price, get some closing costs, even cosmetic upgrades.

Q: What’s it going to take for MLOs in Texas to thrive in the coming six months?

I think the loan officers that are hard workers, highly skilled, and have valuable partnerships and relationships are the ones who will not only make it through these tough times but will probably pick up even more market share and thrive. The market isn’t giving any free deals right now, so it all comes down to massive work ethic, financial literacy and relationship-building, six to seven days a week until this storm calms.

Q: How bad is it going to get before things get better? Or are we seeing signs of recovery already?

It’s hard to say how bad things will get and when we will see a recovery. I believe we should know after Q1 of 2023, as I think massive unemployment is the next shoe to drop. The only positive thing about a deepening recession is historically mortgage rates come down. If things get worse, we may see some much-needed rate relief which would help incentivize more buyers to make a move. One thing is for sure. Tough times don’t last; tough people do.

Q: Let’s look at Austin and Houston. How can mortgage originators in those markets smooth out their book of business? Does it come by focusing on low-end loans? Does quantity become more important?

In today's market “smoothing” your business begins fishing with a wider net. Right now, that is the name of the game. “Smooth” is ideal but “anything” is helpful. We have to market and be open to every opportunity that presents itself. People, price points and property. We can’t be choosers in this market so the more the merrier. Any person or family we can help is a win for everyone. We also need to expand our search parameters on business partners. The perfect Realtor isn’t the bullseye anymore. The bullseye is now the entire dartboard.

Q: You raise a good point that Texas MLOs will thrive with financial literacy. Does that mean more comprehensive knowledge of what the market has to offer or better preparing consumers to understand the mortgage process?

One of my favorite sayings has always been “ knowledge is power”.  You have to learn beyond traditional loan guidelines. Financial literacy is everything right now. Financial freedom, how to create a wealth accumulator, how to run a personal budget, tax incentives, ROI, ect. Right now you have to be more of an “advisor” vs just an application taker. There are so many variables when it comes to becoming a “smart homeowner” and articulating this in today's economic environment is crucial. It’s what will make or break you and separate you from your competitors. The days of the easy refinance are gone. Todays market requires a fully committed, educated and caring mortgage officer. The standard has been raised, quickly. You can’t be a pretender anymore.

This article was originally published in the Lone Star LO February 2023 issue.
Headshot of Keith Griffin, senior contributing editor at American Business Media
Keith Griffin,
National Mortgage Professional Contributing Editor
Published on
Jan 26, 2023
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