Gambling Psychology, Inflation Fears, The Flattening Yield Curve, and Why Mortgage Prices are Sometimes “Sticky”
A “handsel” is a gift given to wish good luck for the year ahead. The word dates back to the 1300s, and derives from “hand” and “selen,” an Old English word meaning gift or donation, a cousin of the word “sell.” A handsel can also be the first instalment of a payment or bond, although we tend to use the less colorful term “first payment.” The word “mortgage” comes from Old French “morgage,” literally “dead pledge,” from mort (dead) and gage (pledge). The term “mortgage” is used interchangeably with “home loan” or “lien” or “deed of trust.” There are technical and legal differences, of course, and it is good for your staff to know the differences. Shifts in terminology aren’t confined to our business, of course. Marketing wizards have determined that people in their 20s and 30s don’t like the term “diet” and have begun replacing soda pop labels with “zero sugar” drinks. But “home ownership” is a term that sticks with us and is easy to understand. It is good for the community, good for the country, and arguably the best wealth-creation strategy for individuals. We know that homeowners spend money (like paint, lawn care, dog food, pizza on Friday night) and serve as economic players in the local community. And of course we know that homeownership can lead to generational wealth. And our industry helps! (During this seasonal quiet time the daily podcast is having some down time but will return Monday, January 3. Earlier versions of the audio are available here; questions about interviews and sponsorships should be directed to Robbie Chrisman.)
Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes!
Would brokers or loan officers call the process of locking a rate “gambling?” Of course not. People tend to believe that they can predict the future, given current information and past events. SEC Rule 156 requires mutual funds to tell investors not to base their expectations of future results on past performance before they invest. Who predicted the pandemic’s affect on housing values? There is an old joke: Economists were invented to make weather forecasters and astrologers look good. As the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Dr. Michael Fratantoni puts it, “All forecasts are wrong but some are useful.”
The study of gambling, and why it becomes a habit for some, is fascinating. Take slot machines. Did you know that, neurologically speaking, pathological gamblers got more excited about winning than non-gamblers? And that, for near wins (three cherries and an orange, or however they work these days), to gamblers the near wins, while still a loss, looked like wins neurologically? Their brains reacted almost the same way. But to non-gamblers, a near win was a loss. Same event, different reaction. People with a gambling problem receive a mental high from the near wins which keeps them playing longer. Gaming companies and casinos are well aware of this tendency, of course, which is why programmable slot machines are programmed to deliver a nearly constant supply of near wins. The same with state …….