Nicole Rueth is the Producing Branch Manager at The Rueth Team in Englewood, Colorado. You can contact her at 303-214-6393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background. How long have you been in the industry?
I’ve been in the business for about 18 years. I actually started in corporate America, working in engineering culture for what is now called Accenture (it was Arthur Andersen back then). Then I had three kiddos, and sort of fell into mortgage lending. I just needed to get off the floor with my kids, so I approached a friend in the industry and asked, “Hey, what do you need?”
It was kind of an entry-level position — not what I was used to. I didn’t know what was going to happen from there. As it turned out, I was in ops for the broker world for about eight years. Then, I started taking over sales when I had a partner. They had to leave town once, and the phone kept ringing … and it turned into a phenomenal opportunity.
The business we built became a really great foundation. I learned how to keep that client flow going, learned how to sell, and learned how to originate loans — and it turned out I was pretty dang good at it. Also, it was a lot of fun. I loved helping people get excited about getting into a home. Later, it turned into excitement for helping them build wealth beyond their home.
What drives you to be the best at what you do?
Well, number one is to be a great example for our kids. Number two — well, I don’t think there’s an exterior motive for the work effort and the passion behind the expertise I’ve focused on. It’s more that I understand how to be competitive and be the best and to add value in a way that other people stop short of. There’s no judgment there — it’s just that I’m willing to work harder and longer for better results every time.
What makes working with you and your team different from other lenders, either in Colorado or on a national basis?
We’re different because we’re not transactional. What we do is we try to support the client — so it’s not just about this one house. That one house is great, and it brings them joy, it’s a roof over their heads, it’s a home for the family. However, beyond that, it’s sitting across the table from a client and asking, “What’s next?” Where are you headed and do you want to incorporate real estate in your overall financial goals?
Our team looks at real estate from a different perspective. I have 23 investments myself, so I get it, and I’m passionate about the opportunity that real estate can provide. Most Americans aren’t going to develop the next Google or Facebook or send a rocket to the moon. I’m sure not. However, I can buy a piece of property, and then — with some strategic guidance — I can buy the next one, and the next one, and then I can provide a lifestyle that I want into retirement, and a lifestyle so that my children will not have to worry for the rest of their lives. It just makes us different. Fundamentally, we’re playing a different game.
What advice would you give a home buyer in this current market?
I would say that now is the perfect time to buy. Four years ago might have been a brilliant time to buy, but since I haven’t realized how to roll back time, then I will continue to say that now is the perfect time to buy, especially in the Denver market. We’re seeing continued appreciation. Our 30-year average appreciation is 6 percent compared to the national average, which is 3.6 percent. We’ve only had depreciation — a negative market — for four years over the last 30, and even those were relatively minor compared to the nation as a whole. Here in Denver, we are … well, I don’t want to say protected, but there’s just a different climate. We’re in the top 10 of everything: live, recreate, go to school, retire, raise kids, etc. It just makes it a really solid place. Also, with so much industry coming in, this environment allows for the continued opportunity to build wealth through appreciation. Then if you look five or 10 years down the road and you convert that primary home into a rental, it allows for continued opportunity through rental income.
What’s the best program out there for buying your first home?
There is no best program. Anyone who says that — well, that’s where lenders fall into traps. This is the thing I sell because it’s what I know best. We are blessed to support the number of families that we do support regularly, having worked our way up to the number one “originating in Colorado” spot. We get to see and work with many families and see the extreme differences between opportunities and financial situations. The best is so dependent on the situation. I think down payment is a phenomenal way to get into the program if you have a little money — I don’t even care about the higher interest rate. The VA is by far the best program out there if you’ve got a military background. The USDA is a great program with no money down, but you have to live a little farther out. Minimum-down, home-ready, home-possible — those are great programs that allow you to get lower mortgage insurance and lower interest rates. So there’s no best. There’s just a lot of great opportunities for a lender who knows all of the options and can work specifically with each client individually.
Why is now the best time to buy a home?
It really is the opportunity to stop giving your money to your landlord’s wealth-building and start building it for yourself. Through both avenues and both principal reduction and appreciation, that continues to multiply in a compound effect that no other investment opportunity has. Real estate does provide multiple streams of investment opportunities, so I would say the sooner you can get in, the better. We all learned about compounders in grade school. If you could just save a penny a day, but you could start when you’re 12 instead of 40, there’s a massive difference in your savings account. The same thing happens in real estate.
It’s a good investment even in rough times. People get so freaked out about what happens when real estate loses value. Let’s go back to 2005. If I was able to hold on to my property through the crisis — and I recognize that some people weren’t, and you feel for them — but if I were able to hold on to it, I’d have a piece of property today that’s worth 68 percent more than when I bought it. That’s still a high rate of return, especially if I had converted that property to a rental and allowed tenant income to pay down debt. It’s a win-win.