It’s no wonder that folks who rely on the news media to know about our world often wind up confused, or sometimes, downright misled.
With the possible exception of politics (no, I’m not going there), I see few better examples of consumers getting misleading information than in real estate.
I have to hand a blue ribbon for disappointment to Marketplace, a program by American Public Media which recently produced a report about the difficulty of getting a home mortgage.
Reporter Gigi Douban in effect focused her magnifying glass on one part of the real estate industry and left folks with the impression that it’s just flat hard to get a home loan. Period.
“Now it’s nearly impossible to get a loan,” the show’s anchor said, leading into Douban’s report.
“There are plenty of folks who want to buy a house, but there aren’t that many who can,” Douban said.
I have no issue with anything anyone interviewed in the report said.
Woodfin talked about the fact that more of the Buyers approaching him for a loan than in the past wind up not being able to qualify. That’s true. We all know that mortgage requirements have gotten tighter, something that, in my opinion, needed to happen.
The fact is that getting a loan is difficult. For some people.
The timing of this story seemed particularly ironic. On May 14th–the same day Marketplace aired Douban’s report–BBVA Compass announced that it’s expanding its–get this–mortgage operations, and–guess where–in Birmingham, as well as in Tempe, Arizona.
“Even in Alabama, it’s hard to get a home loan,” the headline reads on the Marketplace website.
“Even in Alabama.” Hmmm. Is our state supposed to have always been easy street for getting a home loan? “Well, shoot, Maybel, it’s not lookin’ good for us here in Tupelo, so let’s just head past Pete’s barbecue joint and cross the state line into Alabama. Anybody can get a loan there…”
In a news release, BBVA Compass cited the rapid growth of its mortgage business as the reason for the expansion. They’re hiring 60 more people to handle loans.
The bank said 270 people will be involved in mortgage operations in Birmingham. Pretty impressive numbers, if you ask me. It certainly suggests that BBVA Compass must have some reason to feel confident that they’ll be helping more people buy homes in the coming years, and, specifically, by writing loans.
Why else would they spend the money?
If the Marketplace report had provided a more balanced perspective, it would have mentioned that there are quite a few sales happening in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. real estate market.
Some in the business even feel the industry is turning around.
April home sales within the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area are up more than 10% compared to a year ago.
The fact is that if you have good credit–no, not absolutely through-the-roof sterling credit, but just good credit–you can get a loan. Sure, some Buyers are paying cash, but don’t kid yourself; a lot of those sales are being financed.
It’s the people in less than sound financial condition, who are late or have missed payments, or who have judgements against them who likely face mortgage rejection.
With more homes selling, it’s only logical to realize that mortgages are not nearly as impossible to obtain as the media tells us they are.
The problem is that folks don’t always hear what the market is really like.