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NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE WEEK: Refinancing keeps lenders busy

by Tyler Wilson
| May 3, 2020 1:00 AM

Much of the local real estate industry soldiers on thanks to versatile technology that facilitates social distancing and contactless signings.

Mortgage lender Lee Hardin of Guaranteed Rate is based in Sandpoint and utilizes his company’s online platform to continue the lending process for buyers. Loan applications and approval can be handled electronically with ease, and even closing on a home can be done without in-person contact.

“The day of closing, a client can review documents and we can use a virtual notary,” Hardin said. “As long as you have a laptop with a camera, the whole thing is e-close.”

Drive-by appraisals and appraisal waivers are also being utilized to limit contact on closing procedures, Hardin said.

Hardin said Guaranteed Rate already had virtual processes in place prior to the pandemic.

“Basically we have everything online anyway as an option for the client, so this was nothing new for us,” he said. “We already had people who didn’t necessarily need the face-to-face contact (with a lender).”

Buyer interest has been down the past month, understandably, though Hardin has stayed busy with clients utilizing the market conditions to refinance their loans.

“The rates are at historic lows,” Hardin said. “When you refinance, you’re doing so to lower your monthly payments or to get some cash out… it’s been all over the board. There are people who have been holding out for years on a higher interest rate, and we have people who are refinancing to get rid of their private mortgage insurance they’re paying. And others are saying, ‘I want to get his money because I don’t know what the future is going to hold.’”

Economic uncertainty has made it more difficult for some to secure loans. Buyers need to have slightly better credit scores to secure low rates, Hardin said, and employment checks are as important as ever.

“We’re taking extra precautions at the time of closing to verify clients still have their jobs,” Hardin said. Those precautions are intended to protect all parties, including buyers who may not be able to afford their loan.

Hardin said he expects restrictions to ease and buyer interest to respark once the economy begins to reopen. He also said the North Idaho market is better suited to withstand a recession compared to other markets.

Hardin said he’s thankful to be working from home and helping people during this uncertain time.

“I’m blessed and fortunate to be in this industry and at (a large) mortgage company, so we’re stable and we’re able to assist in refinancing and other client needs,” Hardin said.

For more information, including advice and options for refinancing, contact Lee Hardin of Guaranteed Rate at 208-946-0850 or Lee.Hardin@rate.com.

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We want to hear from readers and real estate professionals about what you’d like to see from Neighborhood of the Week during this unprecedented time. Contact twilson@cdapress.com to suggest story ideas and updates you’d like to see in this space in the coming weeks.

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Home sales continue with social distancing measures in North Idaho.