Should You Stop Paying Your Student Loans in Forbearance?

The possibility of student loan forgiveness is on the horizon, so should you stop making payments on your own loans?

That depends, but let’s take a look at where we stand so far:

  • On the campaign trail, then-candidate Joe Biden promised to wipe out at least $10,000 for student loan borrowers.
  • Now that he’s president, Biden is getting pressure from some to increase that amount to $50,000 or more. But he’s also getting pushback from other groups who aren’t in favor of wiping out any student loan debt. (More on that later.)
  • An administrative forbearance that freezes interest rates and payments for federally held student loans has been extended until Sept. 30, 2021.

So what does all this mean for you, the student loan borrower?

Depending on your loans and financial situation, you might actually be better off making larger payments right now… or none at all.

Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

Is Student Loan Forgiveness Likely to Happen?

During his campaign, Biden announced that part of his Emergency Action Plan for the economic recovery would include forgiveness of at least $10,000 in student loans for borrowers, plus additional relief for those who attended public colleges or historically Black colleges and universities.

Bur remember, not all campaign promises come true.

Some groups have been pressuring the Biden administration to up the limit to $50,000 in student loan debt or wipe out all $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan debt. And there are plenty of other factions who aren’t in favor of forgiving student loans at all and instead want to focus on relief efforts for other parts of the economy.

With all these plans on the table, there’s no guarantee of anything, according to Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, a non-profit organization that offers free student loan advice and dispute resolution assistance to borrowers.

“I’ve been working in the student loan industry for over 20 years, and we’re closer to some sort of broad student loan forgiveness than we’ve ever been before,” she said. “With that said, I think the chances of broad student loan forgiveness are very, very slim still.”

And even if some sort of forgiveness does come to pass, it’s highly unlikely the federal government will simply wipe out all debt in one broad stroke.

It’s important to be realistic about which groups of people and types of loans will be forgiven, said Steve Muszynski, the founder and CEO of Splash Financial, a student loan refinancing marketplace.

“What President Biden campaigned on was a $10,000 forgiveness amount for select groups,” he said. “Select groups tend to be people that didn’t get an advanced degree, maybe make less than $125,000 a year, as an example.”

We’re closer to some sort of broad student loan forgiveness than we’ve ever been before. With that said, I think the chances of broad student loan forgiveness are very, very slim still.

However, one thing that is certain right now is that federally held student loans are in forbearance — interest rates are automatically set to 0% and all payments are suspended.

Forbearance was originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — aka the CARES Act — passed in March 2020 and extended a few times to its current deadline of Sept. 30, 2021.

So with forbearance a sure thing and forgiveness a possibility, should you be making payments on your student loans? Let’s look at the factors that can help you decide.

6 Questions to Ask Before You Stop Paying Student Loans in Forbearance

Before you start celebrating that your student loans are going to disappear, let’s do a reality check and figure out how forgiveness might affect you.

1. What Type of Student Loans Do You Have?

Not all student loans are eligible for forbearance — and it’s highly unlikely they will all be eligible for forgiveness.

The forbearance covers all loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education, which includes Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, Parent and Graduate Plus loans and consolidation loans.

If you have private student loans, these loans are not covered by the administrative forbearance period and there’s almost zero chance they’ll be wiped out by a mass forgiveness.

Not sure who owns your student loans or how much you owe? You can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243 and check out this guide to help you get organized.

If you have a mix of private and federally held student loans, your best strategy may be to use the money you’d normally pay toward federal student loans to pay off more of the private loans still actively accruing interest.

If you qualify, refinancing private student loans could help you lower your interest rate and monthly payments.

“If you have anything over, say, 5 or 6% on your private loans, it doesn’t hurt to look,” Mayotte said.

2. How Much Do You Owe?

The amount you owe may help you decide if you should use the forbearance period to make a dent — or wait.

Even if $10,000 in forgiveness is on the horizon, you’d still be responsible for any remaining debt over that limit.

“If you can afford to make the payments and you owe more than $10,000, you should absolutely be taking advantage of the 0% interest period to chip away at your debt,” Mayotte said. “But there’s no harm in taking that extra amount that you would be making in payments and socking it away somewhere you could earn some interest.”

As the forbearance deadline approaches, you can then use those saved payment amounts to make a lump-sum payment.

If you have less than $10,000 in student loans? Then it might pay to wait out the forbearance period, since forgiveness could potentially be approved in this time period.

However, you should continue to set aside the extra amount you would’ve paid and make the lump sum payment at the end of forbearance — if forgiveness doesn’t end up panning out.

3. Are You on the PSLF Track?

If you’re pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness — you have a direct loan, you’re on an eligible repayment plan and you work for a qualifying employer — then you can and should take advantage of the relief period by making no payments.

Those zero-dollar payments still count toward your total to earn forgiveness, and if your loans happen to be forgiven during this period, all the better.

Despite their eligibility, Mayotte said she knows of numerous cases where PSFL participants have continued to make payments — which might be understandable given the numerous issues that have beleaguered PSLF over the years (like borrowers discovering years’ worth of payments didn’t count because they were on the wrong repayment plan).

If you have been making payments since March, you can reach out to your servicer to request a refund for those payments.

But if you’ve lost your job or have had your hours cut to less than the 30-hour minimum, your non-payments will not count toward forgiveness (but you still don’t have to pay while in the forbearance period).

PSLF does not require consecutive payments, so you can still pause on payments if you think you’ll return to your non-profit or public sector job.

However, if you think it’s unlikely you’ll get eligible employment again, you may want to take advantage of the forbearance period to start paying on the loan. At the very least, you should update your income (if you’ve lost your job) on your income-driven repayment plan.

4. What Kind of Degree Do You Have?

If you have loans that you took out to get an advanced degree, don’t bank on forgiveness.

“People with advanced degrees are unlikely to get mass forgiveness, if any forgiveness, from the government because you’re seen as part of a society that has greater upward mobility,” Muszynski said.

Although undergrad loan debt may still be eligible for forgiveness, your graduate Plus loans are less likely to be included in a forgiveness plan. They’re also likely to have higher interest rates, which means the forbearance period is a good time to be putting a dent in that debt.

However, as with all federally held loans, Mayotte said she’d advise against refinancing into a private loan.

“I’m running into a lot of people right now who are kicking themselves because in the last couple years they did refinance their federal loan into private,” she said. “Now they can’t get the 0% and if [the government] does forgiveness, it’s not going to happen for them.

“They’re begging for a way to take it back, and you can’t.”

5. How Close Are You to Retirement?

If you’re nearing retirement and paying on student loans — whether it’s your own loans or those you took out to pay for your kids’ education — forgiveness may potentially help you wipe out some of your loans. Focusing on saving as much as you can for retirement may be the better bet during this forbearance period.

“Retirement should always come first as far as deciding where your money goes,” Mayotte said.

If you default on student loans after forbearance ends, the loans can be sent to collections, and your wages, tax returns and Social Security benefits may be garnished up to 15% for repayment.

But solely relying on forgiveness is probably not the best strategy, especially if you have more than $10,000 in loans or took out loans to get an advanced degree. In that case, you should start preparing for a future with a fixed income by aggressively paying off the student loan debt and looking into an income-driven repayment plan.

“Understand that you might be 80 years old when the loan is finally gone but at least the payments are going to be affordable and [they’re] not going to change,” Mayotte said.

6. What Does the Rest of Your Financial Situation Look Like?

All of these strategies for getting the most bang for your buck may not mean much if you’re struggling to pay the bills. If you are in a situation where you need the money to pay for your basic needs, take advantage of the forbearance period to get yourself back on your feet and to start building an emergency fund.

Also take into account how using this time to pay off student loans might help your stress levels vs. betting on forgiveness.

“Student loan debt can feel suffocating, and getting out of it can be a mental health benefit,” Muszynski said. “It’s important for people to recognize how they think about their debt, and whether they would prefer to be rid of it so they could be healthier from a mental perspective.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.


What Do HOA Fees Cover: Homeowners Association Expenses Explained

What is an HOA?

Are you confused about the meaning of an HOA? HOA is short for a homeowners association. Lots of people ask real estate agents how an HOA works and what purpose does it serve. Once they understand the purpose of a homeowners association they ask what the HOA fees cover.

An HOA is a group or organization in a neighborhood that makes and enforces rules and regulations for homes or condos for the benefit of its owners.

Buyers who purchase within an HOA become members and must pay association dues, known as HOA fees.

Before buying into an HOA, it is vital to understand the rules and regulations. You may find that some of the rules are not what you’ve been accustomed to. In fact, if the rules and regulations are overbearing, you could find yourself in the position of not wanting to live within the neighborhood.

On the other hand, you may love the thought of having guidance and uniformity. Some of the biggest advantages of living in an HOA are preserving and upkeep of the homeowners association’s homes and neighborhood.

One of the most common questions home buyers have is what do the HOA fees cover? Let’s take a deep dive into what you need to know about homeowners association expenses.

HOA Fees
How Do HOA Fees Work?

What Are HOA Fees?

Homeowners association fees are paid to maintain the common areas and shared spaces in your home and neighborhood. Being part of a homeowners association makes it a lot simpler to live in than having a home where you are responsible for all the maintenance.

So, if you have an expensive emergency in your house, you have to find the money to fix it. Where in the HOA, expenses are shared amongst everyone in the community.

An elected committee governs the HOA fees in your neighborhood. All of the expenses should be approved by those who reside within the community.

In larger HOAs, there is often a paid office team organizing contractors and paying bills. Other HOAs can be staffed by using outside contractors. Sometimes this can be a problem when work is not completed satisfactorily.

HOA costs depend on the neighborhood and type of project. It is not uncommon for HOA fees to range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $1000 in some luxurious settings.

Homeowners association fees are influenced heavily by what kind of perks are offered for living within the community. For example, neighborhoods that offer community pools, gyms, and tennis courts, naturally would cost more to maintain and operate.

However, a lower-cost townhouse without a pool, gym, or other amenities could be far less expensive. Costs can be as low as $100 per month in some locations around the country.

HOA expenses in a high-end city center may include concierge, spa, and gym, making them much more expensive to live in. You could potentially see fees as high as $3-$4 thousand per month. Think of the rich and famous.

How Are HOA Expenses Distributed?

If you live in an HOA within a condo or townhome complex, you may have underground parking, with a car space allocated to every apartment in the building. Part of the maintenance with this living style is security, as we all feel safer in a secure building.

Rubbish collection is another cost, as rubbish has to be taken down to the basement and removed from the building. Companies are often hired to fill this role.

The pool must be maintained, the ground manicured, plants pruned, and the gym equipment is cleaned. While these perks are probably the reasons you bought in, the cost can be a bit high for some retirees. Perks such as these are often standard in retirement communities. It is often a significant reason seniors downsize into a neighborhood that has an HOA.

Do Homeowners HOA Fees Go Up?

Of course, everything rises with inflation, and there will always be new projects or remedial work to be carried out on the homes and neighborhood.

Some HOAs schedule increments annually, so if you are preparing a five-year budget, you may want to factor in the cost. Doing so will be helpful to work out what your expenses will be projected at in the future.

It will be vital before buying to take a look at the homeowners association bylaws, rules, and regs, along with the latest financial state. You should make sure to have a contingency for document review in your offer.

What If You Can’t Pay The HOA Fees?

You can be fined or taken to court, and a lien could be placed on your property. It can also be embarrassing not to pay because, in committee meetings, they often have nonpaying homes as agenda items and discuss strategies to recover the funds.

HOA expenses are very much worth paying, as in most cases, you do get your money’s worth. Because there is power in numbers, you often get better value for money with more people paying to get the best deal for your HOA.

Before you move into a condo, townhouse, or home, check how your HOA fees will be apportioned, and make sure no special assessments are pending.

Special assessments would mean that you will have to come up with an extra lump sum to fix an unexpected expense. Nobody likes financial surprises, so it is essential to research any significant expenditures on the horizon.

How Do I Choose The Right HOA Neighborhood?

Form a working relationship with a high-profile local agent. Once they know what you are looking for, they will help you to find your perfect HOA.

The best buyer’s agents will know most communities in the town or area. Real Estate agents have their ears to the ground and often hear positive or negative things about a particular neighborhood and the accompanying homeowners association.

Moving into an HOA is a terrific idea when it is a well-oiled machine. Living within a homeowners association can make your life more simple, especially from a maintenance standpoint. If you’re the kind of person, who travels a lot, it really makes a lot of sense.

First-time home buyers who do business travel could find living in an HOA to be the perfect situation.

Final Thoughts on HOAs

In the area you are planning to live in, there hopefully will be a wide range of suitable HOAs to choose from. As long as you pick an HOA neighborhood that does not have strange bylaws or overbearing rules, you’ll probably enjoy the living situation.

The key is doing the proper due diligence. Without that, you could make a bad mistake that you’ll regret. Take the time and do the proper research. Hopefully, you have found this guide to HOAs to be useful. You should now know a bit more about what HOA fees cover.


A Mentee’s Educational and Marketing Plans

The purpose of a mentorship program is to facilitate field training for new hires that are not experienced so that they will receive the support they need to transition into productive members of the sales force. A mentee will need to participate in a field training program.

Dave Hershman

This program will contain two personalized components:

  • The development of an individual marketing plan.
  • An individual education plan.

The educational plan will be individualized for each mentee and might include the following (some of these may be covered in an orientation):

  1. LOS training delivered by the mortgage company or the LOS organization.
  2. Training on investors/programs of the company and secondary procedures.
  3. Advanced knowledge beyond the training class – secondary, self-employed, advanced qualification, comparing loans, managing a pipeline and more.
  4. Outside courses, such as underwriting, real estate licensing, valuation and other topics.

The Marketing Plan is one of the most important components of a mentorship program for those joining a company that does not provide leads. In the case of a company that provides leads, more emphasis would be placed within the area of sales training, especially with regard to converting leads. But, for the vast majority of companies, a professional marketing plan is needed for every sales person.

  • Formulation of short-term and long-term goals. These goals would include training and improvement, activities and actual production. The goals must be very specific. For example, increasing calls or production is not a specific goal statement.
  • Identification of targets, the solicitation of whom will help us meet our goals.
  • Selection of tools which will help us reach and deliver value to our targets.
  • Choosing actions that will utilize the tools to reach the targets.
  • The implementations of these actions on a regular basis (frequencies).
  • The evaluation of the results of these actions.

It is important to note that the loan officer will be tempted to use every marketing tool available to reach every target possible. This is a recipe for disaster as most sales people who try to sell all things to all people fail. The marketing plan must be initiated by delineating the sphere of influence of the loan officer, as well as the sphere of their target in an “inside” environment, such as a bank. This is the same exercise that a manager would undertake in developing their recruiting plan.

Prioritize. The next step is to prioritize. Who are the most important targets in terms of concentration of business and the importance of the relationship? The loan officer should have anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 within their sphere. They must decide how to market each segment in accordance with this prioritization.

  • The top priority should be potential synergy marketing partners.
  • The second priority should be those with a very close relationship to the loan officer who either have a high concentration of business to refer (for example, CPAs and real estate agents) or can introduce them to the same.
  • The third priority would be previous customers, previous coworkers, personal contacts and those who they have served before.
  • The last priority would be comprised of those who have something in common with the loan officer, for example, members of their alumni association.

Limit the actions. The marketing plan must be compromised of a series of very limited and simple activities that are linked to each other through synergy. Do not try to undertake or use too many marketing methods.

Skills development. The development of skills will help sales personnel implement actions. We are talking about more than the development of basic finance skills and many of these are facilitated through the implementation of the mentorship program’s “field training and educational” segments:

  • How to deliver great customer service through the application process.
  • How to make deals happen through the use of finance skills.
  • Role playing with their peers in sales meetings and training sessions.
  • Listening to others on the phone, taking lead calls and having their conversations monitored.
  • Going out on the street with successful loan officers and rookies.
  • Going out on the street with their manager or mentor.

Monitoring of the implementation of the marketing plan. Monitoring will take place during coaching calls and during general sales meetings. Of course, these activities can be combined: you can perform one-on-one coaching sessions while out on the street together.

In order to be an effective manager or mentor, you must combine activities so that all goals can be met without neglecting others. It is at this juncture that you must adjust training plans and activities in such a way that your sales personnel can increase their performance.

Dave Hershman is Senior VP of Sales of Weichert Financial and the top author in the mortgage industry. Dave has published seven books, as well as hundreds of articles and is the founder of the OriginationPro Marketing System and Mortgage School – the online choice for expert mortgage learning and marketing content. His site is and he can be reached at


What a $15 Minimum Wage Means for Social Security

Workers demand $15 minimum wage
Photo by a katz /

An increase of the minimum wage to $15 could help today’s young workers when they finally claim Social Security benefits decades from now, while also increasing revenue for the Social Security program today.

Such workers could see a benefit that is up to about $5,000 higher each year in retirement than they would receive based on today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to the organization Social Security Works.

That is because each additional dollar a worker earns potentially increases the monthly Social Security benefit amount he or she receives in retirement.

According to Social Security Works:

“If a single worker were to earn the current minimum wage her whole life, and claimed Social Security benefits in 2021 at her full retirement age, she would receive a monthly benefit of just $979.80. In contrast, if she had earned $15 an hour, her monthly benefit would be $1,409.60. That is a Social Security benefit increase of over $5,000 – $5,157.60, to be exact – each and every year for the rest of her life!”

Higher wages also mean more payroll tax revenue for the Social Security system’s coffers, which are facing a shortfall.

Payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, are a source of revenue for the system. Employees pay 6.2% of their wages in Social Security payroll taxes, which is matched by their employers. Self-employed workers pay the full 12.4% of their wages in Social Security payroll taxes.

So, when a worker’s wages increase, so does the amount he or she pays in Social Security payroll taxes.

As Social Security Works puts it:

“Contributions from workers’ wages, matched dollar for dollar by their employers, are Social Security’s primary source of revenue. When the minimum wage increases, Social Security’s revenue also increases. … Furthermore, updating the minimum wage increases the average level of wages nationwide, which results in more income for Social Security.”

The notion of raising the federally mandated minimum wage has been a hot topic in recent years. Many cities and states have already taken steps to raise the minimum wage in their own communities, including increases that just took effect in January, as we detail in “The Minimum Wage in Every State in 2021.” But a change at the federal level would apply to many more employers across the country.

President Joe Biden and many Democrats say they are in favor of raising the wage to $15. Republicans generally are against such a change.

A minimum wage hike currently is part of Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, but opposition — both from Republicans and at least a couple of key Democrats — could doom the wage increase, at least for now.

Recently, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office looked at the implications of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 as introduced in the Senate in late January, which also is included in the Democrats’ relief package. This legislation would increase the federal minimum wage in increments, until it reached $15 per hour by June 2025 if passed in March. From there, the minimum wage would continue to increase at the same rate as median hourly wages.

The CBO concluded that such a measure would lift 900,000 people out of poverty by 2025, but would cost the nation 1.4 million jobs over the same time period.

The CBO also says that the Raise the Wage Act would increase the cumulative budget deficit over the 2021-2031 period by $54 billion.

Would you like to earn a higher wage? Take matters into your own hands by negotiating an increase with your employer. For tips on doing so, check out “10 Tips to Remember When Asking for a Raise.“

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


What Is Redlining?

Homeownership is a major goal for many people. Not only is a house the biggest purchase many will ever make, but owning a home is a way to build and transfer wealth.

While nearly 75% of non-Hispanic white Americans were homeowners in 2020, the homeownership rate was almost 60% for Asian Americans and just over 49% for Hispanic Americans, according to the Census Bureau. Black Americans were the least likely of all minority groups to own a house, at just over 44% in 2020.

Why the stark disparity? The answer, in part, is redlining, a discriminatory housing policy that made it difficult for Black, immigrant and poor families to buy homes for several decades. While redlining was banned more than 50 years ago, its negative effects are still felt today.

Redlining definition

Redlining is a term that describes the denial of mortgage financing to otherwise creditworthy borrowers because of their race or where they want to live.

The term was coined by sociologist John McKnight in the 1960s. It refers to areas marked in red on maps where banks would not lend money, but the discriminatory practice began much earlier.

In the 1930s, as part of the New Deal, the federal government created the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration to stabilize the housing industry.

The HOLC was designed to provide low-interest, emergency loans to homeowners in danger of foreclosure, while the FHA replaced high-interest loans of the early 20th century with longer-term, government-insured mortgages at lower interest rates.

To guide lending decisions, the HOLC instituted color-coded “residential security” maps. These maps separated areas the HOLC considered safe for lending from areas that should be avoided. Although the HOLC said the maps would help lenders assess risk and property values, racial biases were clearly at play.

Neighborhoods that were predominantly white were usually colored in green or blue and considered the least risky. It was easier to get home loans in these areas.

Areas with a high number of Black, Jewish and Asian families, which often had older homes or were closer to industrial areas, were typically shaded in red and labeled “hazardous.” Almost no lender would provide mortgages in these areas.

Areas that bordered Black neighborhoods were colored yellow and were also rarely approved for loans.

Effects of redlining

The grading of neighborhoods based on perceived credit risk restricted the ability of Blacks and other minority groups to get affordable loans or even to rent in certain areas.

Exclusion from government lending programs

The FHA, as well as private banks and insurers, used the HOLC’s redlining practices to guide their underwriting decisions.

As a result, it was almost impossible for nonwhite Americans to gain access to the affordable loans offered by agencies like the FHA and Veterans Administration — programs supposedly intended to expand homeownership.

In fact, nonwhite people received just 2% of the $120 billion in housing financed by government agencies between 1934 and 1962, historian George Lipsitz notes in his book “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness.”

Racially restrictive covenants

Racially restrictive covenants are agreements, often included in a property deed, that prevent property owners from selling or leasing to certain racial groups.

These covenants reinforced redlining by prohibiting Blacks and other groups from buying or occupying property in various cities throughout the country.

Although the GI Bill promised low-cost home loans to veterans of World War II, lending discrimination and racially restrictive covenants meant Black soldiers couldn’t buy homes in developing suburbs, for example.

Racially restrictive covenants remain in some real estate deeds, though a 1948 Supreme Court ruling says they aren’t enforceable.

Even so, decades later, Black and Hispanic Vietnam War veterans and their families encountered similar racial discrimination when trying to buy and rent homes in certain areas.

Is redlining illegal?

Angered by the inability of Vietnam War veterans of color to obtain housing, groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People pressured the government to pass the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

As part of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act made it illegal for mortgage lenders and landlords to discriminate against someone for their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Redlining maps may no longer be in use, but more than 50 years after the law was passed, housing discrimination still exists, says Andre M. Perry, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

Paired testing studies using equally qualified home seekers of different races have found that some real estate agents discriminate against people of color by not showing them properties in white neighborhoods or showing them fewer homes in general.

Perry also says research he published in 2018 shows homes in Black majority areas are undervalued by $48,000 on average, resulting in $156 billion in cumulative losses.

“Just because a law changed, it doesn’t mean the practices and procedures that still may devalue homes in Black neighborhoods, aren’t still there,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s the reduction of wealth that is the most harmful aspect of redlining.”

How redlining reinforced the racial wealth gap

The racial wealth gap is a term that describes the difference between the median wealth of whites compared with other groups. The median and mean net worth of Black families are less than 15% that of white families, according to Federal Reserve 2019 data.

The disparity exists today because Blacks were locked out of homeownership by redlining and were unable to build generational wealth, says Nikitra Bailey, an executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending.

“This persistent gap in homeownership opportunities between white families and families of color literally is rooted in the fact white families got a head start,” Bailey adds.

In fact, the homeownership divide between Blacks and whites is back to where it was in 1890, according to the National Fair Housing Alliance. And the gap is even larger than it was in 1968 when the Fair Housing Act was enacted.

Sheryl Pardo, a spokesperson for the nonprofit research organization Urban Institute, stresses that national, state and local policies are needed to address the homeownership and racial wealth inequities redlining has left behind.

The Urban Institute’s proposals include zoning laws to improve access to affordable housing, counseling before and after purchasing a home to prepare borrowers for the costs of homeownership, the expansion of down payment assistance programs and the development of financial products for homeowners to repair, maintain and improve their homes.

“Homeownership is still the most significant wealth-building tool in this country,” Pardo says. “If you want the Black community to make up that distance, homeownership has to be a key piece of it. It’s almost like you need a shock-and-awe response. It’s not going to happen by tweaking one little lever.”


The Golden Rule Doesn’t Apply in Marketing Anymore!

For years, the Golden Rule has been applied to the realm of marketing and selling. Treating people like you would like to be treated seems not only morally right but a good practice in the business world.

Sherlock: not having an accurate view of sales performance is a recipe for disaster
Pat Sherlock

Throughout history, this maxim has been upheld as a key to professional and personal success. But, when it comes to today’s marketing efforts, it doesn’t apply as it once did. What has happened to diminish the Golden Rule in selling?

Social media has forever changed the way consumers purchase products, including home loans. In mortgage banking, the average age of originators is between the late 40s and early 50s. Experian notes that the median age of first-time home buyers is 34.

According to Smart Insights, there are significant differences between how specific age groups use social media to discover and research products. The key takeaway is that older originators who assume that younger prospects use the same social media platforms they do risk disconnecting from an important target audience.

This is not surprising, but it is an overlooked topic by many lenders, especially banks, that often dictate what social media platforms and content the sales force can use. Case in point: while the originators’ age group (45 to 54) researches products via social media 33% of the time, younger prospects (25 to 34) do so 50% of the time.

For originators concentrating on purchase money and first-time home buyer loans, not being active on the same social media platforms as prospects will hamper sales performance. This becomes even more problematic when lenders provide generic content that is not personalized for prospects and referral sources.

Once our current refinance market inevitably shifts to a purchase money environment, it will be critical for originators to align their social media marketing efforts with the usage patterns of prospects in order to succeed.

Social media platform preferences are only part of the picture. Just as important is the type of content being published. Consumer demand for online video content has grown exponentially, a trend that will undoubtedly continue. Faster download speeds and cost-effective production have made it easier than ever for sales professionals to harness the power of video for their marketing efforts.

While COVID-19 restrictions forced many originators to make video sales presentations instead of meeting prospects in person, this format is here to stay. The issue is no longer whether originators should be on video, but how good they are at convincing prospects to do business with them via this medium. Moving forward, while AI can streamline product selection and loan processing tasks, a computer can’t duplicate the warmth, interest and caring that a salesperson can convey in a video presentation.

Originators who put the time and effort into developing and perfecting video presentation skills will win in today’s marketplace. This isn’t about being a Hollywood movie star but more about a salesperson being real, current, and tech-savvy. This one skill will separate better originators from the rest of the pack.

Are your originators meeting customers where they are? Are they providing marketing content in a way that consumers want to receive it? These are critical considerations for producers who want to connect with their best prospects.

Pat Sherlock is the founder of QFS Sales Solutions, an organization that helps organizations improve their sales talent management and performance. For more information, visit


5 Reasons Your Career Is Stalled and How to Get Unstuck

What do you do when you realize it’s been a hot minute since you’ve had a big win in your professional life? Let’s diagnose the problem so you can get busy solving it.


Rachel Cooke
February 22, 2021

career lattice. Imagine a shape more like a snowflake than a ladder. It represents the idea that careers could—and in many cases should—move in all directions.

When the time to climb arrives, you’ll be carrying more tools in your professional toolbox.

At different seasons in our lives, we may need different things. Sometimes explosive upward growth is it. But sometimes it’s about taking a left or a right and learning new and valuable things, instead. It’s about expanding our knowledge before we take the next step up. Then, when the time to climb arrives, we’ll be carrying more tools in our professional toolbox.

When I worked full-time in human resources, there were essentially two brands of HR professionals. The specialists managed programs. Think talent management, leadership development, and even company-wide compensation. The generalists partnered with and advised individual business units.

My climb had always been up the specialist ladder. I knew that world was a better fit for me. But I came to a point in my career whee I realized that if I was going to keep climbing, I needed some generalist experience. Spending time advising business leaders would only help me design better programming in the future.

The last move I made in my full-time career was this lateral one. For me, it became the springboard into consulting. I felt rounded out and ready.

This business I run today would be considered a specialist one, but my generalist experience absolutely informs the practicality of the solutions I build for my clients.

So now ask yourself: What’s a move I could take laterally that would round out my portfolio of skills and experience and ready me for the next step up?

2. Your personal brand needs some love

Early in your career, you were known as the hard-working, creative superstar who would roll up their sleeves and solve any challenge. But is this still the narrative that follows you? When’s the last time you checked in on how people are experiencing you?

When I spoke with personal branding expert Dorie Clark, she talked of the importance of not just crafting but staying vigilant about the state of your personal brand, the way you’re thought of by those around you.

Make sure your colleagues and professional contacts experience you as the person deserving of that next great move. Optics matter.

Have you been doing great work, but finding that the accolades and opportunities for growth don’t seem to be following? Dorie would advise you to consider a personal branding refresh.

Here are some strategies she might suggest:

  • Be a recognized expert. Ask around to find out how people are thinking of you. Are you just a great worker all around, or are you the go-to on something critical? Strive for the latter.
  • Recapture your creativity. In the pursuit of doing great work, have you tried anything interesting, or are you just playing it safe? Push yourself out of the box.
  • Play more offense. Have you been waiting for the next great move to find you? It might be time for you to let the world know you’re on the hunt.

Make sure your colleagues and professional contacts experience you as the person deserving of that next great move. Optics matter.

3. Your network has stopped working for you

You know what they say: It’s all about who you know. The question here is, have you been paying attention to your network?

Think back to when you started this job. As an ambitious professional, chances are, you leaned into networking around the company like … well, like it was your job. We start new jobs with energy and enthusiasm. We want to learn, drink it in, meet everyone and learn about what they do.

We start new jobs with energy and enthusiasm. And then we start to settle in.

And then we start to settle in. People we reached out to in the early days have forgotten us, or in many cases have moved on themselves.

Having advocates and sponsors at work absolutely matters, people senior to you who will raise your name when they’re discussing a big opportunity.

So ask yourself: When is the last time I was intentional about doing some internal outreach?

Start booking those virtual coffees today.

4. It’s time to bulk up your resume

When you finished school and landed the job, you had everything they were looking for.

But time has passed, and you’ve taken on more. Maybe you’ve had a promotion or two along the way.

It’s possible you’ve hit your ceiling. For the qualifications you have, you’re at the top of your game. So, it may be time to consider adding a qualification.

Amidst the pandemic, I’ve seen friends add coaching certifications, accounting credentials, and advisory licenses to their resumes. I’ve watched people learn coding, web design, and more.

If something about your resume has stopped compelling people, then spruce it up and make them listen!

5. It’s time to move on

Sometimes it’s not you, it’s them.

You’re impressive, you’re hard-working, and you know this company like the back of your hand. Sometimes that last bit about knowing your role and company inside and out is the problem. Companies are looking for fresh blood. They want new perspectives, fresh eyes on old ways of doing things.

Consider all you’ve learned, seen, and achieved at your organization. When you put it all in the blender, what’s the story that emerges?

This isn’t a criticism of you. It just may mean that for the outcome you want, you need to explore options outside of your company.

Maybe it’s your moment to be someone else’s fresh eyes.

Consider all you’ve learned, seen, and achieved at your organization. When you put it all in the blender, what’s the story that emerges?

How will you show up for another organization with exactly the wisdom and perspective they need in the moment?

And there you have it! Don’t let a career stall get you down. Diagnose the problem so you can get busy solving it.