Personal Income

The real estate market & student loans: Hot topics in a changing landscape


In this episode of Making the Rounds, Laurel Road’s head of mortgage and Bukky Ajagbe-Akingbola, MD, talk about the real estate market and financial strategies for residents.

  • Eileen Derks, head of mortgage, Laurel Road
  • Bukky Ajagbe-Akingbola, MD, PGY-1 in OB-GYN, University of Minnesota
  • Todd Unger, chief experience officer, American Medical Association

Listen on the go to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere podcasts are available.

Unger:  COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of the economy, including real estate markets. However, it still could be the right time for young physicians to purchase a home. 

Derks: “Most physician loans allow you to have a higher than normal debt-to-income ratio, which means that you can typically carry more debt, including student loan debt, which we know a lot of our residents are working through right now. And you may have a relatively high debt-to-income ratio, you might have a better chance of being approved than you may have in a traditional mortgage. So, were taking all of that into consideration having confidence and faith the income trajectory will occur and the credit quality is there.”

Unger: That’s Eileen Derks–head of mortgage with Laurel Road. On this episode of Making the Rounds a podcast from the American Medical Association—she’s talking with Dr. Bukky Ajagbe-Akingbola, first-year resident, in OB-GYN, at the University of Minnesota.  They’ll explore strategies and solutions including Laurel Road’s physician mortgage and historically low private-loan refinancing rates.

I’m your host, Todd Unger, chief experience officer at the American Medical Association. Here’s Dr. Ajagbe-Akingbola.

Dr. Ajagbe: Hi everyone. My name is Bukky Ajagbe-Akingbola. I am a PGY-1, or a first-year resident, at the University of Minnesota and the department of obstetrics gynecology and women’s health. I am very excited today to talk with Eileen from Laurel Road about the relationship with Laurel Road and the AMA, specifically, because this was something that I personally went through in the past year, as I moved from my medical school location, which was down in the south, back up to the Midwest and really had to look into some of these big things that honestly, over the last couple of years, I have not spent a whole bunch of time thinking about. Physician mortgages, whether or not I should rent or buy, what the market looks like right now. And as I had those personal interests, speaking with other friends who happened to be residents as well, I started to find out that a lot of people have these questions. So this was something that became a personal interest of mine. And I’m very excited today to learn more about it.

Derks: Hi everyone. Eileen Derks, head of mortgage for Laurel Road, a division of KeyBank, excited to be here.

Dr. Ajagbe: Laurel Road is the preferred provider of student loan refinancing physician mortgage, as we’ve talked about a little bit through our AMA Member Benefits Plus. Laurel Road for doctors is reimagining banking and financial management for physicians and dentists through a tailored digital experience. It’s made up of banking, insights and benefits uniquely designed to provide the financial health peace of mind that they need through each career stage. I want to turn it over to Miss Eileen Derks again, just if you could give us some more information about yourself and more about Laurel Road, I think that’d be a great place to start.

Derks: Oh, awesome. Thank you so much. Happy to do so. So I have over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Laurel Road, I was the senior vice president of retail communications and knowledge management at PNC. Today, I’m leading out the build-out and growth of the mortgage business for Laurel Road and I’m responsible for establishing the strategic direction, the growth plan, the digital roadmap for our product, which offers a personalized simplified process for anyone looking to finance or refinance a mortgage and the benefits associated with doing so through a digital platform—and through the AMA, which includes flexible terms, low interest rates and a really digital application process that makes it easy and streamlined for AMA members to finance or refinance.

Dr. Ajagbe: So I think as someone like myself, who is hoping to buy a home sometime in this period of life, at some point during residency, I’m definitely really excited to really dive in and talk about this today.

So one of the very first questions that I have, I think it’s just so relevant and pertinent to this period of time that we’re in. Eileen, can you talk a little bit about from your perspective, how COVID has changed the real estate industry?

Derks: Absolutely, really a unique time for our economy perspective, as everyone knows, but essentially COVID brought the real estate market to a halt. There was no activity. Our home viewing and listing, we just couldn’t in a COVID environment. So, that really brought a pause to folks buying and selling homes. And then as the economy sort of opened up, there was a lot of this pent-up demand. So six plus months of pent-up demand. You add that to, you know, low record, low rates and we really have sort of the perfect storm as it relates to, you know, high demand now. So pent up as well as folks really sort of rethinking where they want to live because they can now work remotely. Coupled with, as I mentioned, low record, low rates, we have a very high demand, there’s low inventory and that certainly translates to a seller’s market.

First of all, I would say it really depends. It’s very individualistic. However, with record low rates, this is really a time to connect with a financial institution, with Laurel Road, can refinance … can deliver an advance from a financial standpoint. Could it reduce your monthly payment? Could it help you pay off your loan faster? Could it save you money overall in interest? So, really sort of pausing, reflecting on when’s the last time you’ve refinanced or purchase and if you haven’t done so in the last year or two, see if there’s an opportunity to save money, reduce the monthly payment or pay off your loan faster.

Dr. Ajagbe: Great. Thank you so much. I feel like saving money and paying off loans faster, all the things we like to hear as residents. Another really quick question I had was, what do we, as residents, know or for those who are interested, what do we need to know about where to start with physician mortgages?

Derks: Well, physician mortgages first and foremost, really take into consideration the income potential and credit quality that residents and doctors have. And so that really opens up a lot of doors for individuals that are looking to buy their first home or to upgrade their home. Most physician loans allow you to have a higher than normal debt-to-income ratio,…


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