“Marry the house, date the rate.”
It’s basically become an unofficial slogan for real estate agents in every market.
Sure, it’s an easy response as mortgage rates rise from historic lows. But it’s one that could end up costing you credibility—and clients— in the long run.
Like Tom Toole reminds us, “This is people’s money we’re talking about here.”
You don’t want buyers to associate current mortgage rates with all the angst and ulcer-inducing stress that goes with dating.
Aside from that, there are two compelling reasons NOT to use this overused phrase with your clients. Jason Cassity and Tom Toole break those reasons down.
You don’t know that mortgage rates will go down
Real estate agents don’t know with any certainty that mortgage rates will go down—much less when they will.
So, you can’t promise your clients that the current rate will go down. Nor can you give them any idea as to when that might happen or how long they’ll have to deal with a mortgage payment that puts them in a difficult financial position every single month until then.
I just don’t like the thought of telling my buyers to get into a situation where maybe they’re stretching themselves too thin in hopes of a rate adjustment back down, and that rate adjustment never comes.
Since you can’t promise them the rates will go down (ever), you can’t guarantee they’ll be able to refinance a few months or years down the road to get a lower mortgage payment.
Plus, if clients are stretched too thin on their monthly payments, they won’t be able to afford the upfront cost of refinancing.
Putting clients at risk financially is not helping
Pushing a buyer to commit to a financially stressful mortgage payment makes it more likely they’ll end up having to foreclose on their home.
Or they’ll rack up an impressive amount of debt to pay other bills, buy groceries, and put gas in the tank until they can refinance—or until they run out of credit.
In other words, you’re putting your clients in a financial position that could ruin them. And you can bet they’ll remember the agent who pressured them into that position.
You can’t guarantee they’ll be able to look back someday with gratitude that they “married the house” anyway.
And, as Tom Toole pointed out in his electric Instagram post, “It smells like commission breath.”
What you can do instead
As Tom suggests in his post, use data to educate yourself and your clients, so they can make informed decisions and avoid locking themselves into payments they can’t afford.
It’s all well and good to help your clients secure their first homes and start building real wealth. But it makes no sense to pressure them into a mortgage payment that works against them.
Make sure your buyers can afford the payment based on current mortgage rates. Then, if rates do go down and they can refinance, the money they save will be gravy.
You can also do what Jason Cassity suggests and encourage your clients to look into a two-to-one rate buy-down or use some of the closing costs to buy down their rate to something a little more affordable.
If that doesn’t get your clients to a monthly payment they can afford, encourage them to consider other options.