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The newly enacted lending standards that are now affecting mortgage lenders, and more importantly, homebuyers—the life blood of residential real estate—should draw more customers to the doors of real estate professionals, who should be promoting how their skill sets and experience can help consumers navigate the challenges in these evolving times.

However, to capitalize on this opportunity and to insert ourselves as the “doctors” that we are, we must continually update and educate ourselves on the market conditions and offer sound, practical, professional advice as to the barriers facing interested consumers. Thirty-three years ago, interest rates were as high as 18+ percent, and the industry and its consumers survived, mainly because of the product we represent. The product—homeownership—has not changed! As of this writing, according to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is now 4.37 percent as compared to 4.32 percent a month ago.

The average 15-year rate is now 3.39 percent as compared to 3.40 percent a month ago. Interest rates will go up and down, and helping your customers through the newly minted financing maze is just the latest challenge you face. Six years ago, the Federal government lent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac $187.5 billion to help prevent an economic collapse; by next month, those two organizations will have paid back the treasury $202.9 billion—we survived!

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, sales of existing, single-family homes dropped to its lowest level in a year. With the rivers frozen, snow storms happening every other day somewhere, historic drought on the West Coast and everything else that has been happening over the past three months, I am not surprised for the recent drop in housing activity. Actually, in my neck of the woods, the only person operating at 100-percent capacity is the snowplow driver!

Crisis or opportunity? I believe I speak for the majority of our readers when I say I can’t wait for the spring when the snow melts, buyers and sellers can put their snow shovels away and real estate professionals can start putting more signs in the ground so REALTORS® across America can help get America’s economy moving again!

What will be real estate’s Silver Lining’s Playbook this year? We look forward to providing more in-depth reporting on how inventory and lending standards will continue to evolve and affect the upcoming spring market and real estate professionals’ bottom lines.

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