TITLE INSURANCE BASICS How to make sure every deal that crosses your desk has the proper protection
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST
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Sabeena Bubber on the path that led her to start 100 Brokers Who Care
RAISING THE BAR
Will a new code of conduct up the ante of professionalism for the broker channel?
HOT LIST 2021
How the Canadian mortgage industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top professionals triumphed over the chaos of 2020
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UPFRONT 02 Editorial
Why it’s time for the broker channel to focus on training
TITLE 2021 INSURANCE 101 Everything you need to know about title insurance to make sure your clients’ transactions are protected
CMP talks to a few of the 53 members of this year’s Hot List to find out how they thrived during an uncertain and unexpectedly busy year
Broker Sabeena Bubber’s commitment to helping others goes well beyond her work as the driving force behind 100 Brokers Who Care
06 News analysis
What’s behind the recent push for a national code of conduct for mortgage brokers?
08 Industry moves
A Vancouver credit union takes a bold step toward combating climate change
10 Technology update
Key data that should be on your radar this month
The recent lack of face-to-face interaction has shaken Canadians’ faith in financial institutions
HAND IN GLOVE
Since teaming up to launch Spicer Vo Mortgage, John Vo and Craig Spicer have proved that two heads are better than one
How the mortgage industry can fix its broken mentorship model
FEATURES 36 Start trusting your team Five ways to give your team the autonomy they deserve
PEOPLE 40 Other life
Behind the camera with broker and media maven Angela Calla
SIMPLIFY TOUGH DECISIONS Six science-backed techniques that can help you make even the most difficult choices
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www.mortgagebrokernews.ca ISSUE 16.01
A new year’s resolution
ow that 2020 is in the rearview mirror, agents, brokers, managers and executives are rightfully looking back with satisfaction at what will go down as one of the most thrillingly profitable years in Canadian mortgage history. But those unprecedentedly good times shouldn’t obscure a critical weakness that threatens the integrity and public perception of the Canadian mortgage space. It’s a common refrain: Some new agents entering the industry are not adequately prepared to take on the kind of complex, fast-paced deals that could start landing on their desks once they sign on with a brokerage. Sure, new agents come to the industry as ‘certified’ professionals, but what weight does that carry if the training required for certification can be crammed into a few days?
Robust training is the ultimate preventive medicine for the ills that plague the mortgage industry There’s a reason the mortgage industry’s top-ranked employers are so often those that prioritize mentorship and continual training, and it’s not simply because these companies are showing faith in or spending money on their employees. It’s because they actually teach their agents how to do their jobs. Robust training is the ultimate preventive medicine for the ills that plague the mortgage industry. In 2021, brokerages have an excellent opportunity to make a concerted effort to help their agents up their games. Why not put some of last year’s unexpected profits toward new training programs that will prepare agents to close deals efficiently while also generating a steady stream of new business, in good times and in bad? Today’s market will not last. The flow of deals will inevitably constrict, and when it does, there will be a flight to quality on the part of consumers. Welltrained agents will continue to thrive, while the unprepared will grow desperate. Borrowers shouldn’t have to run the risk of winding up with the latter, but until all agents are trained to similarly rigid standards across Canada, that’s the gamble they’re forced to take. The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional
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STATISTICS CONSUMER CONFIDENCE USHERS IN 2021
CANADIAN HOUSING RESILIENT IN 2020 Despite noticeable dips during the second quarter, the Canadian housing market proved to be largely undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported 551,392 transactions completed via the MLS nationwide in 2020, and the average home price landed at $607,280 after some significant jumps during the summer and fall.
YEAR-OVER-YEAR HOME PRICE GROWTH
of Canadians expect home prices to increase over the next six months
of Canadians expect home prices to decrease over the next six months
of Canadians believe their job is secure
DELINQUENCIES RISE IN TORONTO AND VANCOUVER Canada’s two largest cities approached the end of 2020 with mortgage delinquency rates at their highest levels since 2016, according to CMHC. In Toronto, the rate grew by 9.1% quarterly to reach a four-year high of 0.12% in the third quarter of 2020, while Vancouver’s rate had a 6.7% quarterly growth to reach 0.16% – but both remain well below the national average of 0.3%.
MORTGAGE DELINQUENCY RATE
of Canadians expect the national economy to be stronger in the next six months
Source: Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, January 4, 2021
Source: Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends: Q3 2020, CMHC
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WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?
YEAR-OVER-YEAR HOME SALES INCREASE 60% 50% 33.5%
ANNUAL SALES GROWTH
The off-the-charts markets brokers enjoyed in 2020 probably won’t carry too far into 2021 – CREA’s forecast for the year calls for slightly weaker activity due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. However, the organization does expect supply shortages to drive price growth and weaker markets like Alberta and Saskatchewan to show signs of sustained recovery.
ANNUAL AVERAGE PRICE GROWTH
Source: Canadian Real Estate Association
THE URBAN MIGRATION CONTINUES One of COVID-19’s biggest impacts on housing has been intensified activity outside of the major urban markets – and RBC’s latest Home Buying Sentiment Poll suggests this trend isn’t waning in 2021. Nearly 40% of Canadians surveyed said they’re looking to buy property in the suburbs or beyond.
DEBT REPAYMENT EDGES OUT HOME PURCHASES Three out of four Canadians said their top financial priority this year is to pay down debt or retain an elevated level of savings, according to a Bloomberg/ Nanos survey conducted at the end of December. Only 13% said they expect to make a major investment, such as buying a home, this year.
IF YOU WERE TO PURCHASE A NEW HOME, WHERE WOULD YOU LOOK TO BUY? Suburbs or exurbs
38% Rural area
Source: Home Buying Sentiment Poll, RBC, January 2021
Pay down debt Add to savings account
CANADIANS’ TOP FINANCIAL PRIORITIES FOR 2021
Major metropolitan area
Source: Canadian Real Estate Association
Make a major investment (such as real estate or stocks) Spend on a major purchase (such as a car, vacation or appliance)
37% Source: Bloomberg/Nanos
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Up to code Will a national code of conduct for Canadian mortgage professionals protect consumers? A group of industry regulators thinks it will
THERE ARE well over 12,000 mortgage brokers plying their trade across Canada. The overwhelming majority of them conduct business ethically and with a level of genuine compassion – and yet the industry continues to fight an uphill battle in establishing a positive and trustworthy reputation among the general public. The problem facing the broker channel is clear: A breach in ethics by one agent or broker tars the entire industry. They say a person who has a pleasant experience tells five people about it but will tell nine people about a disappointing one; in today’s socialmedia-fuelled world, that figure can be safely multiplied by 100. Bad news doesn’t just travel fast anymore – it travels exponentially. But what if there were no room for brokers to walk the line between ethical and shady? That’s the question being posed by
“Once implemented, mortgage professionals across Canada will be expected to follow the conduct standards outlined in the code, and each jurisdiction will promote and enforce the code through its local approach.” There’s nothing exceptionally flashy in the code, which the MBRCC said reflects “common regulatory standards in Canada’s mortgage brokering industry.” Its rather general vibe appears intended to help tamp down unethical behaviour while not interfering with more specific regional regulations. The Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association and Mortgage Professionals Canada plan to partner with the MBRCC to implement the code. MPC president and CEO Paul Taylor told CMP that even though much of the code will be familiar to most Canadian brokers, it still has the potential to be a valuable document.
“The educational and licensing requirements [for brokers] are so thin, anything’s going to be an improvement” Jerome Trail, The Mortgage Trail the Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada (MBRCC), which proposed a National Code of Conduct for Mortgage Brokering late last year. “The code promotes high standards of business conduct to protect consumers of mortgage brokering services,” the MBRCC said in a statement released in October.
“Having an easy to reference listing that can be shared with consumers and easily understood only serves to increase transparency and further improve the reputation of our industry,” Taylor says. Malon Edwards, senior communications officer in the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario’s public affairs depart-
ment, adds that the code “promotes regulatory compliance, confidence in the sector and the interests of consumers who deal with licensees.” After releasing its proposed 10-point National Code of Conduct for Mortgage Brokering, the MBRCC solicited feedback from mortgage professionals for a two-month period starting October 23, so the code could look somewhat different by the time it is finalized. In its original form, the code contains several ‘must’s, an encouraging sign of seriousness. But there are also more than a few ‘should’s, which are notoriously hard to enforce. Edwards, however, doesn’t see enforcement as a potential sticking point. “The code principles substantially correspond to existing conduct requirements in the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006 [MBLAA] and its regulations,” he says. “Enforcement tools can be used to enforce the code.” Edwards adds that FSRA will be using
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WHAT’S IN THE CODE OF CONDUCT? The MBRCC’s proposed National Code of Conduct for Mortgage Brokering contained 10 general principles when it was released late last year. They include:
Compliance and outcomes Accountability Honesty Competence Suitability Disclosure Management of conflicts of interest Security/confidentiality Stewardship adherence to the code as a key factor in determining whether an individual or an entity is suitable for licensing. “All licensing/renewal applicants will acknowledge that they are aware of and understand the code,” he says. “Principal
direction” for an industry whose new hires often receive woefully inadequate training. “We need more of it, and we need it yesterday,” Trail says. “The educational and licensing requirements are so thin, anything’s going to be an improvement.
“[A code of conduct] will never go far enough until there are in-person audits and more in-depth investigations” Chris Turcotte, Centum Financial Group brokers will be required to attest in the Mortgage Brokerage Declaration of Compliance that the brokerage requires its authorized brokers and agents to adhere to the code. FSRA has authority to refuse, revoke or suspend a licence based on suitability.” Jerome Trail, principal at The Mortgage Trail, believes the code is “a step in the right
It takes five days to get a certification to arrange the financing for what will probably be the largest purchase any individual will make. Just how much professionalism can be expected from that?” Centum president Chris Turcotte, meanwhile, is less than excited about the code, which he dismissed as “same old, same old.”
Co-operation with regulators “It will never go far enough until there are in-person audits and more in-depth investigations,” he says. “Even when brokers try to report brokers who are offside, it’s rarely investigated. Most times, the broker is told that unless a consumer reports it, they don’t look into it.” Turcotte said the industry would see greater benefits from establishing an ethics regime that shows zero tolerance for brokers who break the rules, but he currently has little hope of seeing that happen. “Any mortgage broker reading this can name 10 brokers who shouldn’t be in our business,” he says. “We removed nearly 400 agents from our network when I took over Centum; they were all picked up by other brands within days, and we didn’t receive a single call asking why we made the decision. Everyone’s just focused on head count and revenue.”
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INDUSTRY MOVES NEWS BRIEFS Duo Bank snaps up Fairstone Financial Holdings
Duo Bank of Canada has acquired all outstanding shares of Fairstone Financial Holdings, a leading provider of credit solutions for near-prime borrowers. The acquisition includes all of Fairstone’s operations and subsidiaries, along with its workforce of approximately 1,400 employees. Fairstone will continue to operate under its current brand. Duo Bank CEO Trudy Fahie said the acquisition will further the two companies’ “community-driven focus on providing Canadians with access to financial solutions that fit their needs.”
Siddall to remain at the helm of CMHC for now
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced in late December that president and CEO Evan Siddall, who was slated to depart the organization at the end of 2020, would remain in his current position until a replacement can be found. “As CMHC continues to play a key role in supporting our government’s efforts to ensure every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home, Evan’s continued leadership will ensure continuity at this critical time for our country,” said MP Ahmed Hussen, the minister responsible for CMHC.
Founders Advantage completes DLC acquisition
On the cusp of 2021, Founders Advantage Capital Corporation completed its acquisition of Canadian mortgage giant Dominion Lending Centres, taking ownership of DLC in exchange for approximately 26.8 million preferred shares. Founders Advantage is now known as Dominion Lending
Centres Inc. and is trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol DLCG. DLC co-founder Gary Mauris, who retained his membership in the corporation’s board of directors, was named CEO and executive chairman. Co-founder Chris Kayat is now executive vice-chairman of the board, while James Bell and Eddy Cocciollo were appointed co-presidents.
Equitable Group and Home Capital Group announce stock buybacks
Alternative lenders Equitable Group and Home Capital Group both announced in December that they would be proceeding with stock buybacks, a sign of confidence after a tumultuous 2020. On December 21, Equitable received approval from the TSX for its bid of up to 1.14 million common shares and 297,250 preferred shares. Home Capital said it plans on resuming repurchases of common shares under its normalcourse issuer bid. Neither company had expected to engage in buybacks so soon, but “our capital levels are incredibly strong, and so therefore we feel this is prudent,” Equitable Bank CEO Andrew Moor told the Financial Post.
Nesto forges alliance with real estate agency Proprio Direct
Real estate agency Proprio Direct and online mortgage brokerage nesto have cemented a partnership aimed at providing state-of-the-art solutions for borrowers. The alliance will give Proprio Direct’s clients who are looking to finance, refinance or renew mortgages access to nesto’s fully digital rate search and comparison platform. Malik Yacoubi, CEO of nesto, hailed the alliance as an extension of the company’s mission “to simplify the mortgage process from start to finish.”
Credit union commits to net-zero emissions Vancity Credit Union has become the first financial institution in Canada to pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions
In December, Vancouver’s Vancity Credit Union announced its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions across its entire lending portfolio by 2040, making it the first Canadian financial institution to do so. That would put the company 10 years ahead of the global target set by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Vancity is kicking things off with an “ambitious initial target” for cutting emissions by 2025. “Vancity is proud to take a leadership position on climate change,” the company says on its website. “We do not invest capital or assets in oil, gas, or coal companies. We also do not provide investment banking services to facilitate access to capital for those companies.” In addition, Vancity announced its plans to finance an equitable climate transition by investing in green technology and ensuring greater transparency and accountability. “The financial sector must play a central role in supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy that is clean and fair for everyone,” Christine Bergeron, the credit union’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement, adding that this is consistent with Vancity’s longstanding stance against systemic inequity and climate change.
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“It won’t be easy to meet our commitments, but the days of business as usual are over,” Bergeron told BCBusiness. “We must all do more if we want to address the urgent challenge that’s taking place around us.” Vancity has a long history of progressive business decisions. The credit union was a
“It won’t be easy to meet our commitments, but the days of business as usual are over” pioneer in stewardship initiatives, having launched Canada’s first socially responsible investment fund in 1986. It was also the first North American financial institution to become carbon-neutral across its internal operations. Since 2008, Vancity has been tracking its greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating their impact by purchasing carbon offsets. In 2019, the company joined a number of banking institutions in signing on to the Climate Change Commitment that came out of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Summit in Vancouver. Vancity is also a signatory and board member of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and the Collective Commitment to Climate Action, as well as a member of the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials.
James Laird CEO CANWISE FINANCIAL
Years in the industry 12 Fast fact Prior to breaking into mortgages, Laird was the co-owner of one of Toronto’s most successful Oxford Learning Centre franchises
Checking in on CanWise’s foray into lending What prompted the idea of moving into the lending space and making it an option for the clients who come to CanWise for mortgages? Our overall vision for mortgages is to be the best place, from the initial online search to when a mortgage actually funds. This means the right combination of technology and human touch to get the consumer all the way through the process. We don’t want to be a part of the process; we want to be the whole process. Now our own lender, CanWise Financial, will be one of the options in the Ratehub mortgage marketplace. Whether a consumer wants to go with our lender or a third-party lender, we will help them do so and walk them through the mortgage process, just like we would today.
How long have you been working on setting up your lending operation? We started the process in 2019, when we had reached more than $2 billion in annual funded mortgage volume. That’s when we really started to drill down into what we needed to do to get the approval from [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation] and get it going.
What was the process of becoming a CMHC-approved lender like? Long and detailed. Regulators, insurers and funders perform in-depth due diligence on your company before they are willing to work with you. You must have a strong balance sheet, an experienced management team, and well documented underwriting guidelines and processes in order to be approved.
How has the response been so far among consumers? Are many opting for CanWise as their lender? Consumers appreciate choice, so some are choosing CanWise as a lender and some are choosing other lenders. In either case, they are happy and we are happy. We continue to be a brokerage first, which means we will recommend a variety of lenders that make the most sense for our consumers. We just happen to own one of our lending options.
What does a new lender need to do to differentiate itself from the competition? A new lender can differentiate itself in any number of ways. It could be through rate, product, service, technology or other ways. The important thing is to understand your value proposition to brokers and consumers.
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Digital transactions chipping away at trust As business has pivoted online during the pandemic, Canadians’ faith in financial institutions has eroded
is positive but has some drawbacks,” he says. “On one side, digital acceptance has allowed banks to meet customers’ needs in an efficient way despite the challenges of the pandemic, and it has also accelerated banks’ digital strategies. On the other side, it has forced banks, in some cases, to launch solutions that do the trick functionally but are lacking in the human touch.” Vokes stresses that the onus is on financial services providers to make the digital experience “more personal and relevant.” He adds
“Balancing human and machine interactions is crucial so that customers feel fully taken care of”
The shift from in-person interactions to online and mobile transactions during the COVID-19 outbreak has led to the “ongoing erosion” of Canadians’ trust in the country’s financial institutions, according to a recent analysis by professional services company Accenture. According to the 2020 edition of Accenture’s Global Banking Consumer Study, without the strong personal links that can be fostered through ongoing face-to-face transactions, “customers are more likely to view banking services as a commodity, with price
being the ultimate competitive differentiator.” Less than half of the Canadians surveyed (44%) reported having “a lot” of trust that financial institutions are protecting their data – a 13% decline compared to two years ago. According to Robert Vokes, managing director and financial services lead at Accenture Canada, the recent shift to digital transactions has made it even harder for banks to cultivate valuable relationships with their clients. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a huge increase in digital engagement, which
Firm Capital unveils direct-to-consumer lending platform
Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation has launched FC Mortgage, a direct-to-consumer retail residential mortgage lending platform that will provide residential first and second mortgages, as well as lines of credit, in the GTA. Firm Capital said rates for the mortgages offered on the platform will be based on LTV and will range from 5% to 9%. LTV ratios will also determine the terms offered “so that borrowers can establish a payment history and refinance with a chartered bank at maturity.”
that maintaining trust is important, as 69% of Canadians surveyed believe their financial institutions have their best interests in mind “always” or “most of the time” when providing advice. Another 71% believe that this advice is “smart, personalized and well-informed.” “When creating digital tools, banks need to consider how consumer behaviour is changing and ensure that interactions are still relevant and personalized, with the option to connect with a human advisor when it makes sense,” Vokes says. “Balancing human and machine interactions is crucial so that banking customers feel fully taken care of, as well as to enable bank employees to offer the right advice and services.”
Homewise launches affiliate marketing program
Online mortgage company Homewise has partnered with marketing firm Fintel Connect to launch a new affiliate marketing program that will tap into Fintel Connect’s network of marketers and finance influencers to grow Homewise’s affiliate channel. “Our technology is here to help new and current homeowners across Canada,” said Homewise co-founder and CEO Jesse Abrams, “and working with Fintel Connect’s wide-reaching network of trusted finance influencers enables us to help build the awareness and reach of our solution.”
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A digital path to financial literacy
CEO MARBLE FINANCIAL
Years in the industry 2 Fast fact Prior to joining Marble, Nanji was responsible for the operations behind Afghanistan’s first mobile money transfer service
Marble Financial was recently named one of the finalists for Consumer Lending Platform of the Year at the Leaders in Lending Awards. What did you do in 2020 to earn that level of approval from lenders? Like many businesses across the globe, Marble quickly adapted to the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the development of the MyMarble 2.0 platform, which provides insights to customers to improve overall financial fitness. Customers receive these insights related to their cash flow and spending patterns while benefiting from personalized recommendations on which of their accounts to pay, and by how much, to optimize increases in their credit score. Improving Canadians’ overall financial wellness is a central focus at Marble. How much help do Canadian borrowers need to keep their finances in good shape? I think it’s important to highlight that before the pandemic, Canadians owed over $1.75 in debt – including mortgages and consumer debt – for every dollar of disposable income, according to Statistics Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic both magnified this problem and accelerated the inability of most Canadians to service this debt. So, more and more Canadians are excluded from the mainstream economy and traditional financial services than at any point in history. This validates the importance of financial inclusion and financial
Borrowell acquires fellow fintech Refresh Financial
Credit education fintech Borrowell has announced plans to acquire Refresh Financial, which aims to help underserved Canadians gain access to affordable credit. In addition to essentially doubling Borrowell’s size, the acquisition will also improve the range and accessibility of its offerings, allowing it to “provide more people with accessible loans and secured cards to help them manage their expenses, build their credit history and take their next steps towards financial stability,” said Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham.
education for our Canadian consumers. What’s in store for Marble in 2021? As a financial technology company, we are constantly growing and evolving. We have created solutions that enable financial inclusion and education to help Canadians manage their personal finances and credit wellness.
“More and more Canadians are excluded from traditional financial services than at any point in history” When the first wave of COVID hit, many consumers were financially unprepared to deal with the situation. This resulted in struggle and hardship across many households. This year, we feel it’s at the forefront of most of our minds to make sure those same struggles are not duplicated. For the Leaders in Lending Awards, you’re up against other lending platforms like Flexity, CHICC, PayBright and goeasy. How do you like Marble’s chances of winning? We are honoured and grateful to be a finalist in the Leading in Lending Awards. For us, being shortlisted alongside such deserving companies is a win in itself.
Digital bank and fintech join forces to assist SMEs
Alterna Bank and Thinking Capital have relaunched their joint digital solution aimed at providing owners of smalland medium-sized enterprises with loans of up to $300,000. The updated solution features an improved product offering designed to better meet the needs of SMEs, allowing them to seamlessly apply for a loan online and receive real-time credit decisions. “Through this continued strategic partnership, we can do more for small business owners during this challenging time,” said Alterna Bank CEO Rob Paterson.
Remine and FCT to launch real estate platform
US-based proptech firm Remine has partnered with title insurance company FCT to launch PropertyFlow, a platform that provides a single point of access to MLS and public record data. Industry professionals “will be able to see on- and off-market properties in one place, while connecting in real time with potential buyers or sellers,” the two firms said. “At the same time, Remine provides consumers with the ability to view property listings and transaction details through a user-friendly digital hub.”
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GOT AN OPINION THAT COUNTS? Email email@example.com
Missing the mark There are several reasons why the training new agents and brokers receive just doesn’t cut it, writes Julia Krause IN CANADA, the generally accepted method of training new mortgage brokers is to throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim. It’s a sad introduction for new brokers, who want to help people but don’t have the ability, and a disaster for unsuspecting consumers, who are about to take on a significant financial obligation under the assumption that they are receiving the advice of an expert. Provincial licensing courses contain valuable information, but they do not prepare a person for the day-to-day job of being a mortgage broker. Without a foundation of basic mortgage lending knowledge, how can a new broker effectively advise a client on the best possible mortgage options? The brokerages that actually hire people brand-new to the industry – there are many that don’t – offer reading material for new brokers, along with presentations by lenders and other industry service providers. But too many brokerages rely on lenders’ underwriters and business development managers to teach their new brokers. Desperate for help, brokers often turn to social media (i.e. Facebook) for answers when what they really need is mentorship. Brokerages that offer mentorship programs commonly place new hires with an active, experienced broker, whom the new broker is expected to watch and learn from. In return, mentors are paid a portion of the commission of the new broker’s completed files. But there are many reasons why the mentoring system and the compensation model attached to it aren’t perfect. First, a mentor might not have asked for
the responsibility of training new mortgage brokers. An unwilling mentor might develop a disinterest or even resentment toward the new broker for taking up time they would prefer to spend on their own clients and dealing with their own files. Also, mentors who are active, busy mortgage brokers can’t always be available at the moment a new broker needs assistance. Their clients are their priority. Even if a mentor is knowledgeable and experienced and likes the idea of being a
there is no value in learning why a particular deal cannot be done. In fact, there is great value in learning why a deal can’t be done, and a mentor should be compensated for teaching it. Knowing that they won’t be isn’t especially motivating. The industry today is focused on increasing volumes and making the mortgage process faster and more efficient, with the technology needed to accomplish this goal evolving at a rapid pace. But mortgage brokers cannot be in a race to be more like the big banks. Brokers are the alternative to the big banks. We offer a specialized service, and our clients are more than just numbers to us. Having unprepared, inexperienced agents and brokers in the market might be one of the reasons brokers’ market share has barely changed over the last 20 years, despite the rise of the national brokerages and the resulting increase in the number of mortgage brokers. If consumers are having bad experiences with brokers and spreading the word about those experiences, it affects all of us. It’s not up to clients to state what they want and expect their broker to get it for them. The client is not the expert on what’s
“New brokers lack basic mortgage lending knowledge because practical training has taken a backseat to volumes and the belief that new tech guarantees greater efficiency” mentor, they still might not able to explain things in an easy-to-understand way. Teaching doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In addition, sometimes a mentor will inadvertently pass on bad habits to new brokers, who aren’t aware that certain practices are considered outdated, or possibly unethical, by current regulatory standards. Those mentors who are motivated solely by the additional income attached to mentoring might not actually want to help shape the careers of new brokers and improve the industry in general. Also, compensating mentors with a portion of the commission on the new broker’s completed files suggests
available. When a broker doesn’t recognize this, they waste their own and others’ time looking for a solution that might not even be possible. New brokers lack the necessary foundation of basic mortgage lending knowledge because practical training has taken a backseat to volumes and the belief that new tech guarantees greater efficiency. Julia Krause has been in the mortgage industry for 28 years and a licensed mortgage sub-broker in BC since 1996. She has worked as a broker, underwriter, trainer and technical writer, and she’s currently creating a website and practical training course for new mortgage brokers.
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THE SLOW BUILD Broker Sabeena Bubber might be the mortgage industry’s best-known philanthropist – but you don’t get a reputation like that without also excelling at your job
IF YOU know Sabeena Bubber as the founder and driving force behind the charitable organization 100 Brokers Who Care, you’re likely to view her as one of the Canadian mortgage industry’s most passionate and prominent philanthropists. But that characterization fails to take into account Bubber’s blockbuster success as a broker or the extensive, wide-ranging industry experience behind it. It is Bubber’s reputation that helped bring the charity to life and that continues to attract her peers to the cause. “The thing that’s important to me is not the transactions so much as making a positive difference in the lives of other people,” she says. “That’s part of how I run my business.” In 1993, long before Bubber had a business of her own, she was a fresh-faced commerce grad working on loans and mortgages for Avco Financial Services in Regina, Saskatchewan. Her success at what was an intensely sales-focused job soon had Bubber on track to becoming assistant manager. “I learned everything I needed to know about selling loans at 32%; selling mortgages at 18%; underwriting people based on their capacity to pay, not their GDS and TDS; and truly understanding credit and how to sell to the consumer based on payment, not on interest rate,” she says. Once she stepped into management,
Bubber began investigating the part each product offered by Avco played in driving a branch’s profits. She discovered just how much revenue was floating in the ether in the form of write-offs and bad debt. Chasing it down became her pet project. She might not have been aware of it at the time, but Bubber’s experience dealing with delinquent borrowers would help shape her
says of the deception. “There was always a little feeling in my gut that said, ‘Something about this doesn’t feel right.’ Since that day, if something about a deal isn’t sitting right, I will take time to see what I’m missing.”
A new path After moving on from Avco in 2000, Bubber spent just under two years as an underwriter
“It was always my end game to do something where I was self-employed and nobody could someday decide that they were going to give me the golden handshake and sever me from my job after I’d put my blood, sweat and tears into it” into the broker she is today. She has become especially fond of her alternative and private clients, who, without proper guidance, could easily become one of the Beacon score casualties she used to so tirelessly track down. Sitting across the table from numerous borrowers who knew they had no way to pay back their loans has also helped her develop a keen BS detector. “I always took that personally,” Bubber
for US-based Equity Plus Financial Services. Shortly after 9/11, with interest rates plummeting, she graduated to a mortgage specialist role at RBC. “I was like, 4.79%? That’s like shooting fish in a barrel, man,” Bubber says. “But I knew nothing about A mortgages. I didn’t know what CMHC was. I didn’t understand anything about 5% down. I had to relearn everything I knew about lending and mort-
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PROFILE Name: Sabeena Bubber Title: Mortgage broker Company: Xeva Mortgage Location: Vancouver, BC Years in the industry: 17
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gages, but I understood the other side of the business, which really helped.” Bubber exceeded all expectations, but the response from RBC was dispiriting. After generating more than $40 million in volume on an $11 million target, Bubber says she was chastised by the higher-ups for her lack of insurance sales. “Instead of a pat on the back, it was more like, ‘Look at all the ways you failed.’ I thought, ‘Hmm. Maybe this isn’t the right environment for me,’” she says. “It was always my end game to do something where I was self-employed and nobody could someday decide that they were going to give me the
a higher volume of deals amalgamated under the Xeva Mortgage umbrella. After stepping away from her ownership duties and concentrating solely on brokering, Bubber’s volume jumped by $20 million in her first year. She’s now averaging $75 million in business every year. “When I had my brokerage for so many years, I realized that by wearing all those hats at once, I wasn’t enjoying certain aspects of being an owner,” she says, “so I decided to leave that with somebody who I knew was completely capable of it [Xeva CEO Trevor Hansen] and to do what I love, which is managing my clients.”
“The thing that’s important to me is not the transactions so much as making a positive difference in the lives of other people. That’s part of how I run my business” golden handshake and sever me from my job after I’d put my blood, sweat and tears into it.” At the beginning of 2005, Bubber took control of her destiny, launching Integre Mortgage Partners and, with it, her career as a broker. “I loved it,” she says of her early days as the head of her own company. “I really enjoyed feeling like I was in control of my environment, my business, how I was structuring it.” But Bubber soon learned that doing everything on her own as a business owner – training, HR, administration, compliance – was limiting her potential as a broker. She established a respectable ceiling of $48 million in annual volume that she couldn’t break through. Things started changing in 2013, when Bubber and three other Vancouver-based brokerages looking to save costs and generate
ABOUT 100 BROKERS WHO CARE The idea for 100 Brokers Who Care was sparked in 2016, after Sabeena Bubber launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for a grieving mother. She ended up raising more than $35,000 in two weeks, $7,000 of which came from the broker community. Since launching the organization, Bubber and her supporters have accomplished some truly admirable feats. “I could sit here for a long time and tell you about all the people we’ve helped and all their different stories,” she says. “Every time we write a cheque, it makes such a difference.”
Rewriting the future Bubber’s subsequent success has made her one of Vancouver’s most trusted brokers and enabled her to become one of the industry’s most respected humanitarians. In addition to 100 Brokers Who Care, she has launched a series of seminars for women going through separation and divorce, in which she and a crop of other professionals – Realtors, therapists, lawyers, financial planners – provide divorcées the information they need to make smart decisions for themselves and their children during a time of upheaval. “When you get married, you set these goals for yourself based on being a unit all the way to the end,” Bubber says. “Then it all falls apart and you have to rewrite your future in so many ways.” In the end, isn’t rewriting the future what brokering is all about?
Total funds distributed
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HOT LIST 2021
CMP recognizes 53 mortgage professionals who survived the twists and turns of 2020, turning difficult situations into extraordinary opportunities A ROLLER COASTER of a year, 2020 started out calm, and most experts were predicting a stable market throughout the year. But by the end of February, COVID-19 had arrived in Canada, and everything seemed to go off the rails. In March and April, lockdowns left Canadians scrambling to prepare for the worst. With many out of work and struggling to make ends meet, mortgage deferrals were granted, the Bank of Canada dropped its key lending rate to 0.25%, and corporations implemented remote work policies. By summer, things had shifted yet again. “Record low interest rates and a large demand of relocations due to
the ability/requirements to work from home created a red-hot housing market,” says Trevor Hansen, CEO of Vancouver-based Xeva Mortgage and a member of CMP’s 2021 Hot List. “I don’t think many industry experts would have predicted 2020 as one of the strongest-performing years while a global pandemic continued to alter daily life.” In the GTA, things were going gangbusters by December. Properties were averaging around 26 days on the market and 30 to 40 offers per sale, with a 13.6% year-over-year boost in the average home price, according to Toronto-based real estate broker and coach Simeon Papailias.
Going virtual “The last 12 months have been filled with ups and downs,” says Hot List member Lindsay Jurek, vice-president of national sales at Paradigm Quest. “One of the highest points was to see our company roll out a 100% workfrom-home plan within days of the lockdown, ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our employees across the country. We were able to do this quickly as a result of our investment in technology and embracing a workfrom-home program already as an important part of our company culture.” Jurek was far from the only one getting by with a little help from technology. Fellow 2021 Hot List member Bekim Merdita, vice-president of sales and business development at Edison Financial in Windsor, Ontario, says his tech-centric brokerage was able to pivot easily to a virtual environment. “Most brokers operate a face-to-face model; however, Edison Financial operates as a centralized call centre with features such as e-signing, secure uploads and virtual closings – so we were well prepared for the
current market,” Merdita says. During the pandemic, he noticed that many brokers were able to bolster their technology game to the point where procedural upgrades that typically would have taken years were done in weeks or months. And with traditional face-to-face interaction prohibited, Merdita saw online etiquette taking on a new importance. “I refer to this as ‘word of mouse,’ which consists of what people see when they search on Google or social media platforms,” he says. Hansen says banks, mortgage companies, lawyers and appraisers were likewise scrambling to find new ways to do business, while brokers were educating themselves on new programs as mortgage deferrals and tax initiatives, as well as ways to streamline the customer experience. “We did this by making sure our clients were well informed by utilizing proven scripts, templates and informational videos,” Hansen says. “We quickly learned and utilized technology to ensure all clients received a consistent and extraordinary experience.”
Hot List 2021 winners
Featured Hot List members
Last year’s winners
METHODOLOGY To compile this year’s Hot List, CMP reached out to readers and industry players to solicit nominations. An internal editorial panel then evaluated these nominations and selected the final Hot List recipients based on the initiatives they spearheaded over the past 12 months. The criteria included but was not limited to business achievements, professional advancements, activities outside of work, diversity and inclusion efforts, and awards and recognition.
“I don’t think many industry experts would have predicted 2020 as one of the strongest-performing years while a global pandemic continued to alter daily life” Trevor Hansen, Xeva Mortgage THE 2021 HOT LIST: VETERANS OR FRESH FACES?
of this year’s Hot List members have appeared on the list before
are making their first appearance on the CMP Hot List in 2021
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THE 2021 HOT LIST: GENDER BREAKDOWN
“In an unprecedented year of change, uncertainty and fear, it has been incredible to see our industry demonstrate strength and come together” Lindsay Jurek, Paradigm Quest “In an unprecedented year of change, uncertainty and fear, it has been incredible to see our industry demonstrate strength and come together,” Jurek adds. “We have found new solutions, released new products, and have offered comfort and assistance to thousands of Canadian homeowners. Tears have been shed hearing thousands of homeowners share their stories and challenges to hold onto their homes and keep their families safe. Through all of this, we have also been able to celebrate a record-breaking year for volume and growth.”
In with the new So what’s in store for brokers in 2021?
The industry has adapted to COVID-19 mandates, and a vaccine is on the way to at-risk demographics. In an analysis of major banks and real estate corporations’ 2021 outlooks, MortgageBrokerNews.ca predicted that the national average home price could rise by another 10% and that sales will slow – although likely due to dwindling demand rather than a lack of inventory. Analysts at Moody’s have predicted that migration into the suburbs and exurbs is likely to continue in 2021, driven by a lack of supply in the GTA and the corporate sector’s ongoing flexibility regarding remote work situations. Zoocasa CEO Lauren Haw’s forecast is that Canada will return to a more traditional real estate cycle in 2021 – with the best markets in the spring and fall – now that COVID-19 has been fully accounted for in the market. Haw also expects that the Prairies could be in for a market boost once the economy and immigration fully recover from the effects of COVID-19. As for brokers on the ground, Merdita says he expects more of the same in 2021 but adds that he’s not one for predictions – especially given how things turned out in 2020. “I can say with confidence, however, that those with a focus on technology and creative client outreach will thrive,” he says. “Quality client service and hitting the phones still works as well as it ever did, so I’m as bullish on doing the right thing and hustle as I’ve ever been. Also, rates are expected to remain low, so that opportunity for consumers to improve on their financial situations via refinances and renewals is something that excites us in 2021.” Hansen, meanwhile, expects demand to stay strong, especially in the first half of 2021, but that it will eventually ease. He believes interest rates are likely to stay where they are or increase slightly. “With a continued increase in house prices, a shortage in home inventory and the potential for slightly higher interest rates, I think things will slow down marginally in 2021 due to affordability challenges, especially for the first-time homebuyers,” he says.
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THE 2021 HOT LIST BY LOCATION
66% British Columbia
7% Newfoundland ST_CMP_HalfPg_v11_FINAL.pdf
Give your clients peace of mind Our title insurance coverage reduces risk and provides your clients with peace of mind even if their transaction closes remotely. Attached to each residential and commercial policy at no additional cost, Stewart’s Remote Signing Endorsement assures lenders that our title insurance coverage, including title fraud coverage, continues to apply even if a transaction closes remotely during the current public health challenge. Visit stewart.ca to learn more. © 2021 Stewart. All rights reserved.
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DLC Royalty Financial
Fisgard Asset Management Corporation
Mortgages by Catherine – Xeva Mortgage
Clear Trust Mortgages
Mortgage Magnates, M|M University
TMG The Mortgage Group – KW Mortgage
Verico CityCan Financial
Clear Trust Mortgages
East Coast Mortgage Brokers
XMC Mortgage Corporation
Enrich Mortgage Group
The Valko Team
Approved Financial Services
Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions
The Mortgage Coach
Ultimate Mortgage Group
Quantus Mortgage Solutions
TMG The Mortgage Group – Watters Financial
Loewen Group Mortgages
Clear Trust Mortgages – Win Lui Group
SNAP NOA Enterprises
SNAP NOA Enterprises
CENTUM Home Lenders
Newton Connectivity Systems
RFA Mortgage Corporation
The Collective Group
Mortgage Centre Canada
Capital Lending Centre
Key Mortgage Partners
Mortgage Alliance Commercial
Nationwide Appraisals Services
To continue to flourish in the current market, Hansen adds, brokers need to stay in contact with clients and referral sources without actually being there in person. “Technology and reviewing and revising their client experience program will help secure an exceptional interaction throughout the mortgage transaction,” he says. “Mortgage professionals will also find success by ensuring they work their database, looking for opportunities to save their clients money with early renewals, refinances and investment opportunities.”
The industry’s best That kind of perseverance and innovation
“I can say with confidence that those with a focus on technology and creative client outreach will thrive” Bekim Merdita, Edison Financial was certainly on display in the Canadian mortgage industry in 2020 – and nowhere more so than in the 44 mortgage professionals selected for CMP’s 2021 Hot List. The men and women listed at left all managed to lead by example and make the best of out of the chaos of 2020. Whether launching
their own businesses or starting a new charity, mentoring new employees or recruiting new personnel, these 44 individuals all pushed themselves to greater heights over the past 12 months – and they’re well positioned for even more success in 2021.
Email lender notes, application, and credit bureaus to:
firstname.lastname@example.org D IMITRI K OSTUROS
Chief Operating Officer email@example.com
P AULA H UTTON
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CHRIS BAKER President and CEO
MORTGAGE MAGNATES, M|M UNIVERSITY
hris Baker took a long and winding road to the helm of Mortgage Magnates and M|M University. Nearly 20 years ago, he started out in the mortgage industry with Trans Canada Credit, which became Wells Fargo Financial, which then exited the Canadian market. Baker likewise left mortgages behind, transitioning to insurance and financial advice and leading learning and development for Canada Life’s Freedom 55 Financial division. In 2017, Baker returned to the mortgage industry with Street Capital Bank of Canada. Currently, he is president and CEO at Mortgage Magnates and M|M University, an online streaming and lifelong learning platform for North American mortgage
professionals, which gives him an opportunity to put his background in radio and TV broadcasting to use and deliver truly unique service. “Our biggest differentiator is our lack of affiliation with any particular company,” Baker says. “We are steadfastly loyal to our ‘Brokers Helping Brokers’ model and bring in top mortgage professionals from across North America to teach how they became top performers to our membership of both new and veteran mortgage pros so they can benefit from that success. Being brandagnostic means everyone can benefit from each other, not just one particular group.” It hasn’t been easy. One challenge has been convincing the industry that the
company has no ulterior motives. “We really are about everyone’s success and even celebrate it,” Baker says. The proof ? Mortgage Magnates has made its platform free for 2021 and will keep pricing at $1.99 per month when fees return next year. The company’s greatest passion, Baker says, is giving back. Another challenge, of course, was navigating the pandemic. “When COVID hit, we had to take our 4K cameras and equipment off the road,” he says. “We immediately pivoted to using platforms like Zoom to capture new content footage, and our featured mortgage professionals – along with our members – were extremely supportive and remain that way.”
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LAST YEAR’S HOT LIST WINNERS NAME
Millennial’s Choice Mortgages
Bespoke Mortgage Group
Mortgage Alliance Commercial
Applied Business Software
Premiere Mortgage Centre
Syndicate Lending Corporation
RFA Bank of Canada
360 Best Interest Mortgages
Fisgard Asset Management Matrix Mortgage Global
Canada Ameera Ameerullah Mortgage & Financial Group
Home Trust Company/Home Bank
XMC Mortgage Corporation
VINE Group/ Mortgage Alliance
Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions
MERIX Financial Kash Toor
Mortgage Partners Corporation
The Valko Team
Centum InTouch Mortgage Solutions
The Collective Mortgage Group
GLM Mortgage Group
Loewen Group Mortgages
TMG The Mortgage Group
Dominion Lending Centres
Capital Lending Centre
Bold Mortgage Group
Mortgage Centre Canada
Verico CityCan Financial Christine Xu
Moneybroker Canada and Ready Capital Mortgage Investment Trust
Capital Lending Centre
The Mortgage Coach
Liquuid Home Ownership
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SECTOR FOCUS: TITLE INSURANCE
Title insurance 101 Canadian mortgage professionals have some considerable knowledge gaps when it comes to title insurance. CMP asked Kate Wybrow of industry giant FCT to help fill them in DESPITE BEING a critical aspect of the home-buying process, title insurance remains somewhat of a mystery for many Canadian mortgage brokers. After the heavy lifting that goes into getting a deal off the ground, title insurance is often an afterthought for brokers – if they have time to think about it at all during the closing process. “While most lenders mandate title insurance and many mortgage brokers know that it exists, there isn’t a deep understanding of what policy coverage is, how policies work or why title insurance is important,” says Kate Wybrow, vice-president of distribution for FCT, Canada’s leading title insurer. “If I’m a mortgage broker, it’s not included on my closing checklist. Title insurance is often a requirement of the transaction and is facilitated by the lawyer, notary or title insurer directly, so from a broker’s perspective, it just happens. If I’m a lender, depending on what my role is with that financial institution, the situation is very similar.” For transactions where title insurance is mandated, borrowers will inevitably have questions, and it’s critical that brokers have a baseline understanding of title insurance to provide their clients with the information they’re looking for. “Mortgage brokers are the subject-matter expert on each deal – they own the customer experience,” Wybrow says. “Each deal is unique, and there are various hurdles and
challenges that may arise through the transaction that can negatively impact the deal’s ability to close on time or even close at all. Without title insurance, deals can be at risk – not only from a reputational perspective for the broker themselves, but also financially for their borrower or lender.” CMP asked Wybrow to give readers an introduction to title insurance. While this is by no means a comprehensive guide, it should illuminate one of real estate’s unnecessarily
dark corners. (Brokers looking for more information can head to FCT’s website for a wide array of webinars on the subject.)
The basics of title insurance Title insurance is a simple concept: an insurance policy that protects residential and commercial property owners and their lenders against certain financial losses, unexpected costs and delays that exist as of the policy’s effective date. Title insurance
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Brought to you by
THREE REASONS YOUR CLIENTS NEED TITLE INSURANCE
1 2 3
Provides critical protection against unexpected losses Helps to prevent and mitigate fraud Offers peace of mind for both buyers and lenders
assumes a reasonable risk and enables transactions to close quickly and efficiently, while also protecting against post-policy issues such as fraud. For both homeowners and lenders, the cost of title insurance is a one-time premium. The homeowner is then protected for as long as they own their home. For lenders, the policy lasts for as long as the mortgage is registered against the associated property and until it is discharged from title. Coverage typically falls into two general areas, which Wybrow says can vary based on whether the lender or the homeowner is insured by the policy. • Title risks include defects on the title or existing encumbrances, such as liens against a property, fraud and forgery, and survey issues. • Off-title risks include zoning noncompliance or building permit issues, taxes, and common expense arrears; Wybrow says building permit issues are currently a particularly active category. When a problem arises and an insured homeowner or lender suffers some form of financial loss, FCT typically processes claims in one of two ways. The first and most straightforward way is via a coverage claim.
This occurs when the insurer either compensates the insured for the actual financial loss and all associated expenses or remedies the defect pursuant to the terms of the policy. Often, however, claims fall into a more fraught category: duty to defend. Duty to defend coverage comes into play when, for example, a homeowner has received a challenge to their title or the enforceability of a lender’s mortgage has been questioned. “There could be a multitude of scenarios,” Wybrow says. “Under the duty to defend coverage, we would defend the title in any legal action based on a covered risk, meaning
approximately $300,000 in Canada, so falling victim to fraudsters can be devastating for homeowners. Ensuring that brokers encourage their clients to protect themselves is especially important now, when the pandemic-fuelled shift to a more digital environment has put more borrowers at risk of title fraud than ever before. Title insurance policies are critical in helping to protect against fraud by ensuring that any red flags are raised and investigated by experienced and highly skilled underwriters. To combat the gremlin-like multiplication of title fraudsters, Wybrow says FCT
“Without title insurance, deals can be at risk – not only from a reputational perspective for the broker themselves, but also financially for their borrower or lender” Kate Wybrow, FCT that we’re hiring counsel, litigating on behalf of the borrower and/or lender to defend their title.” With duty to defend coverage, FCT covers the associated costs, and these costs do not reduce the amount of insurance.
Fraud on the rise The increase in title fraud in Canada in recent years has become more than just a hot topic of discussion, Wybrow says – it’s a call to action for brokers, lenders and insurers. “With the advancement of technology, we’re seeing fraudsters becoming even more sophisticated,” she says. “Certainly, a title insurance policy for both homeowners and lenders is critical to protect against what could otherwise be devastating impacts of fraudulent activity.” The average title fraud case totals
is constantly fine-tuning its underwriting practices to better detect suspicious activity. The company also employs the only certified fraud examiner in the title insurance industry in Canada to date, who has been plying her trade at FCT for 18 years. Title insurance is especially critical for clients placed with private lenders and mortgage investment corporations (MICs), Wybrow says. “We do see that private lenders are disproportionately targeted by fraudsters. As such, we underwrite deals that include a private lender or a MIC a little differently and consider exceptions in the policy that would limit coverage around fraud where certain transactional requirements are not met.” One of the most frequent instances of title fraud on the private/MIC side involves funds being directed to a third party not associ-
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Brought to you by
SECTOR FOCUS: TITLE INSURANCE
WHAT DOES TITLE INSURANCE COVER?
Unknown title defects
ated with the transaction. To mitigate the risk associated with this suspicious behaviour, Wybrow advises lawyers and lenders to ensure that mortgage funds are advanced only to a transaction’s registered title holder, secured creditors or an approved third party, such as a credit card company.
What’s to come
Title fraud (both prevention and mitigation)
Liens against the property title
The past 12 months have been an unexpected whirlwind for anyone in real estate, title insurers included. “Without question, 2020 was a challenging year for us,” Wybrow says. “When you look at real estate as a whole,
to change the way business and transactions were conducted. And that was no small feat. Everybody adapted, and adapted quickly, to make sure we could all continue to fulfill our responsibilities and that transactions could continue to close.” Wybrow says furthering the digital transformation of the residential lending space – and improving the experience for brokers, lawyers and lenders – remains one of FCT’s top priorities for 2021 and beyond. “Although COVID has been terrible in so many ways, it has certainly moved the dial on everyone’s appetite to think differently about
“Although COVID has been terrible in so many ways, it has certainly moved the dial on everyone’s appetite to think differently about how transactions are facilitated” Kate Wybrow, FCT
Other title-related issues
both residential and commercial transactions faced a number of new obstacles that we’ve never had to deal with.” While many mortgage brokers and real estate agents had digitization in mind prior to the pandemic and therefore had somewhat of a head start in transitioning to a digital business model, title insurers and their partners were forced to make years’ worth of adjustments in the span of a few months. “All in-person interactions were required to completely transition to a virtual experience,” Wybrow says. “And when you look at some of the rules and regulations regionally, there were significant limitations on our ability to implement this shift. Certain regulations and provincial law societies didn’t allow for transactions to be managed virtually at the beginning of the pandemic, so we had
how transactions are facilitated,” Wybrow says. “We’re dedicated to improving that digital process across the spectrum of the entire real estate transaction.” The new year will also involve ongoing efforts to educate brokers and other real estate professionals about the security and peace of mind that title insurance can provide. “We really want lenders and lawyers to recommend not to close a deal without title insurance,” Wybrow says. “There are enough deltas in a real estate transaction as it is. You want to mitigate whatever risks you can, and title insurance plays a critical role in that.” Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice. ®Registered trademark of First American Financial Corporation.
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We pioneered it. We perfected it. Since introducing title insurance to Canada in 1991, we have earned the trust of real estate professionals and helped save Canadians millions of dollars. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re committed to remaining at the forefront of the real estate industry and will continue to offer innovative products and solutions that provide security and peace of mind.
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Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice. ÂŽRegistered Trademark of First American Financial Corporation.
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Hand in glove John Vo and Craig Spicer partnered up less than a year ago, but they’ve already forged a powerful synergy that has transformed both of their careers
LAST VALENTINE’S DAY, a new partnership was coming together in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. There might not have been roses, wine or Victoria’s Secret at the launch of Spicer Vo Mortgage (which is probably for the best), but even the most enraptured of lovers would have viewed the excitement and sense of commitment percolating through Craig Spicer and John Vo’s new endeavour with a mixture of longing and envy. Spicer, a mortgage mainstay in Halifax who had been running solo for 18 years, knew from more than five years of encountering Vo in various capacities that bringing him on as a partner would solidify his business in a number of ways. Vo’s experience as a mortgage expert with RBC and TD, and as a business development manager for FCT, had exposed him to structured, highly professional work environments that provided constant training opportunities. “I’ve found out that everything good that was said about him was actually true,” Spicer says. “He’s a dynamic worker – just fantastic. I knew I wanted to partner with him from the first time I met him.” In Spicer, Vo found an ideal partner to introduce him to the world of mortgage brokering. “The broker side was the scary part for me, but having Craig there every day was awesome,” Vo says. “Craig is just unbelievable at knowing policies, knowing where to place
clients, where to get things done the quickest and most efficient.” The partnership has brought out the best in both brokers. Vo hit the ground running, generating the kind of volume in his first seven months that most Atlantic brokers would struggle to hit in a year. Spicer’s 2020 numbers have eclipsed his performance in any of the previous years. It’s precisely the result brokers hope for when they bring a new partner into the mix. Vo’s fit into Spicer’s operation has been nothing short of seamless. Most of the effort required to make it work – website design, fresh business cards and other promo materials, new email addresses – was completed before it was time for the pair to start finessing deals together. While Spicer remains the familiar and personable face of the franchise, Vo continues to put his stamp on the guts of the company, bringing a new
sense of focus to the brokerage’s internal processes – and, as a fringe benefit, upping Spicer’s technological literacy. “I always tease that he’s my tech support,” Spicer says. “When I actually get something right, he’ll say, ‘I’m proud of you, gramps!’” The two came together at an interesting time – weeks before COVID-19 slammed headlong into the Canadian economy. But rather than managing a catastrophic downturn, Spicer and Vo found themselves relying on each other’s expertise to stay on top of a historically hot Halifax housing market in which intensely competitive bidding is shortening the timeline of every deal that lands on their desks. Having at least one savvy broker (or the duo’s invaluable assistant, Janet Chase) available at all times guarantees that no matter how hectic business becomes, clients will always get the answers they’re looking for.
DOUBLING DOWN Two heads are generally better than one – and there’s also plenty of value in having two bodies capable of attending twice as many meetings. Craig Spicer and John Vo say one of the key advantages of partnering up has been their ability to attend their own meetings with lenders and then educate each other about the new policies or possibilities they discover. “There have been some lenders that Craig’s opened up my eyes to,” Vo says, “and Craig’s starting to use some of the lenders that he didn’t realize have some real benefits.”
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FAST FACTS: SPICER VO MORTGAGE
BROKERS Craig Spicer and John Vo
BROKERAGE Premiere Mortgage Centre
LOCATION Halifax, NS
COMBINED INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE 30 years
“We have to be more firm than ever. If you want to win in this market, you have to be prepared” Spicer and Vo say the wild real estate activity still being seen in Halifax has required them to be increasingly assertive with their clients so they have the information needed to ensure their deals get a fair shake from lenders. “We have to be more firm than ever,” Vo says. “If a client pushes back and says, ‘I’ll get those docs to you later,’ we have to be very
clear about how important those documents are. If you want to win in this market, you have to be prepared.” As the two men approach their brokerage’s first anniversary, one wonders how many other partnerships celebrated last Valentine’s Day survived 2020. Those that did, like Spicer Vo Mortgage, can probably make it through anything.
SPECIALTIES Product/policy knowledge (Spicer); process efficiencies and technology (Vo)
AWARDS Spicer is a 10-time recipient of Premiere Mortgage Centre’s Top 20 Sales Award; Vo is a three-time member of FCT’s Diamond Club
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Six ways to simplify tough decisions You can get better at making decisions – even the really difficult ones. Aytekin Tank outlines six science-based techniques that can help you put your internal tug-of-war to rest
THE TYPICAL adult makes 35,000 decisions each day. If you do the math (and account for seven hours of sleep), that’s about 2,000 decisions every hour – or one choice every two seconds. Most decisions are actually micro-choices, like clicking a link or taking a sip of coffee. But some choices feel momentous. An internal tug-of-war indicates that something big is at stake. You sense that the choice could significantly affect your happiness, freedom, pride or personal fulfillment. If you’re running a business, there are even more decisions to make – and many are critical to the health of your company. The good news? Science is continually discovering new and better ways to make tough decisions. As Lea Heinrich wrote in The New York Times, “over the past few decades, a growing multi-disciplinary field of research – spanning areas as diverse as cognitive science, management theory and literary studies – [has] given us a set of tools that we can use to make better choices.”
Unfortunately, none of these tools can actually make the decision for you. “They are prompts, hacks, nudges,” Heinrich says. “They’re intended to help you see the current situation from new perspectives, to imagine new possibilities, to weigh your options with more sophistication. There is no foolproof algorithm for life’s difficult choices. But the research shows that you can get better at making them.” Since I started JotForm, my team and I have faced a lot of tricky choices, and I’ve tried many different decision-making techniques. Here are six methods that I rely on when I’m losing sleep over a challenging decision.
Make a value-based pros and cons list
Imagine that you’re considering relocating to a new city. Pull out a piece of paper and write a classic pros and cons list for the move. Now, here’s where science has added a helpful twist. Assign every list entry a number from
zero to one, based on your personal values. For example, if being closer to your family is a pro that’s extremely high on your list, you might score it at 0.9 or 0.95. If you listed ‘near the mountains’ as another pro, but you’re more of a culture hound than an alpine hiker, then it might only rate 0.2 or 0.3. Do the same for the con side. Leaving a job you love could score 0.8, for example, if your career is an essential part of your life. Add up each side, multiply by 100, and see whether the pro or con side wins out. You can also make a separate pro and con list for staying where you are. Compare the final values and see how you feel about the outcome. Often, confronting a ‘logical’ number
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(which is actually weighted with emotions) can illuminate subconscious feelings. If you see the numbers but still feel pulled in the opposite direction, it’s worth doing some deeper exploration. You can also use this technique for smaller, less personal decisions, like which project to tackle next.
Explore future scenarios
Considering the best- and worst-case scenarios is a common way to make tough choices. What’s the very best future you can imagine? The worst? How would you feel if that disastrous scenario became reality? To expand on this technique, psychologist Gary Klein has studied a twist he calls “the pre-mortem.” In the Harvard Business
It’s easy to see the world in black and white, but there’s typically a grey option in the middle – or several shades of grey Review, Klein explained why a pre-mortem is the hypothetical opposite of a post-mortem. “A post-mortem in a medical setting allows health professionals and the family to learn what caused a patient’s death. Everyone benefits – except, of course, the patient. A pre-mortem in a business setting comes at the beginning of a project rather than the end so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied.”
Imagine that your decision was terrible. The project you chose to tackle was a crashand-burn disaster. Now, explore every possible reason for the failure. Once you address this worst-case scenario, you can take steps to prevent it – and make a better decision in the first place. In fact, research shows that pre-mortems (also known as ‘prospective hindsight’) can increase our ability to identify future outcome causes by 30%.
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On the flip side, try to visualize that epic, best-case future scenario and gauge how you feel. If you’re not happy or excited, it’s worth considering why. Amazon uses a variation of both of these techniques. Company developers must draft a hypothetical press release and FAQ announcement before they write any code. By working backwards, the team tackles the most difficult decisions upfront and clarifies the product’s value proposition. As reporter Jillian D’Onfro explains, “if the team can’t come up with a compelling press release, the product probably isn’t worth making.”
Avoid binary choices
We often get stuck choosing between this or that. Should I go back to school or start a business? Should I move to San Francisco or stay in Houston? It’s easy to see the world in black and white, but there’s typically a grey option in the middle – or several shades of grey. Maybe you could spend summers in San Francisco and winters in Houston. Or you could live in Houston for another couple of years and move to the Bay Area later. Sometimes the right choice is not one of two opposites – it’s a more creative, nuanced or flexible solution.
Consult with others
Sharing your dilemma with others can justify or reinforce a choice, but more importantly, it’s a valuable way to gather important information. If you can’t decide whether to move, for example, don’t just survey your friends and family (who will also have skin in the game); talk to someone who has made the same move. Ask how they feel now about their decision. For professional or business decisions, try hiring a consultant. Find people who have deep, niche expertise and learn as much from them as you can. The extra information you
gather will almost inevitably help you make better choices in the future.
Give yourself enough time
I still remember the day I quit my job. As I climbed the two flights of stairs to my boss’s office, my heart was thumping in my chest. My legs were shaking, and my mouth was parched. I knew it was the right choice, but my mind raced: “Am I making a mistake? Should I turn around? Maybe I should stay another year.”
a good one. For example, maybe you need to part ways with an employee, but you put it off to avoid a potential confrontation. If the employee is negative, unpleasant or ill-suited to their role, the choice to wait and delay can poison the whole team. Indecision is a choice with real consequences. Our 35,000 daily choices can be daunting, but quick action is the enemy of decision fatigue. Choose fast, and whenever possible, tackle your choices head-on. Use as many
Quick action is the enemy of decision fatigue. Choose fast, and whenever possible, tackle your choices head-on But I made it to his office and had the conversation I was dreading. I had been thinking about this leap for at least two years, and my side projects were easily paying the bills. Taking time to choose empowered me to make one of the best decisions of my life.
Avoid hidden decisions
For nearly 6,000 years, North America’s First Nations hunted the plains buffalo by chasing them over cliffs and finishing the kill below. This method enabled tribes to gather and store large quantities of meat, hide and fat for the long winter ahead. I always wondered why so many buffalo would just run over the cliff. They were usually pursued by hunters on horseback, for one, but it’s also an example of herd behaviour. All of the animals are just following the group, letting the flow take them where it will. Buffalo jumps are a good metaphor for hidden decisions or non-decisions, which we’ve all experienced at times. When you procrastinate or delay an important choice, you’re still making a decision – and it’s rarely
methods as you need to pick the best solution. Just don’t follow the herd. Choose what’s best for you – and then stand firm in your decisions. If you’ve started a business or launched a product and you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the decisions, please know that it does get easier. Once your business is stable, many of the big foundational choices are done, and you will reach equilibrium. Then it’s time to focus on the constraints. Determine where you can make the most important, impactful decisions, and use them to grow or refine your business. Remember, decision-making gets easier with practice, and a new choice is always just seconds away. Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of JotForm, an online form creation software with 8 million users worldwide. A developer by trade but writer by heart, Tank shares stories about how he exponentially grew his company without receiving any outside funding. For more information, visit jotform.com.
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Start trusting your team If you want your team to be successful, you have to stop treating them like kids, writes Gustavo Razzetti LEADING IS like parenting – everybody thinks they do a better job than they actually do. There’s a definite gap between how most executives assess themselves and how their direct reports do. Leaders and their teams seem to be watching two different movies. Organizations want employees to become more mature, accountable and to drive change – yet their policies and rules treat people like
kids. Without realizing it, many executives act like helicopter bosses: They have good intentions, but their need to control and protect their people doesn’t allow them to grow. There’s a tension that keeps repeating over and over – when things don’t go well, there’s a tendency to blame it on ‘the people.’ I help organizations build cultures of change – to become more experimental, innovative
and adaptive. When I kick off a project, I receive a brief from senior executives. Most of the time, the diagnosis focuses on how their teams are not performing as they should. The company is trying to push change forward, but people’s behaviours and mindsets are supposedly getting in the way. While the description isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s far from being accurate. Afterward, when we interview the broader team, we get to listen to the other side of the story. Both stories are right and wrong at the same time. Driving change is not about taking sides, but a collective experience. Don’t expect people to change if your rules stay the same. Addressing this gap with my clients, I’ve come to a simple realization. Most senior executives believe they are good at delegating and inspiring people based on a different standard – a paternalist leadership style they learned from their bosses decades ago. But delegation and freedom ain’t what they used to be. Today’s environment requires
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removing the boundaries between leaders and ‘the rest.’ People expect a more transparent, experimental and participatory culture. Leadership is about co-creation – people want to be active contributors, not just passive implementers. Your team wants to be treated as equals, not as kids.
Stop planning, start experimenting We live in an uncertain, volatile and fastchanging era. However, most senior executives were trained to manage organizations in a predictable world. Most companies keep thinking on annual cycles. Annual planning, employee performance reviews and promotions, to name a few, are based on a 12-month period. We need to become better at adapting rather than anticipating. As Susan Peters, GE’s head of human resources, put it: “The world isn’t really on an annual cycle anymore for anything.”
must be constantly challenged and improved. We must stop treating people like children and let them actively participate, design and influence how the company operates. Your team needs more room to experiment, make mistakes, adapt and evolve.
Five ways to start treating people like adults Here are some ways to unleash the leaders within your team by treating them as such. These are not meant to be comprehensive or perfect, but rather to get you started.
Create rules that enable rather than forbid
Most companies have rules that are based on a command-and-control mentality that was originated in the Industrial Revolution. Managers had to supervise that people showed up, did their jobs and followed the policies.
Rules control how and what people should do, rather than enable them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company The same applies to organizational structures or policies. They were written when things were supposedly predictable – organizations wanted to control how things should be done. That model operated under the assumption that leaders knew better. They were in charge of making strategic decisions and then persuading others to follow. However, a top-down approach is ineffective. Every person in a team is a sensor. They can detect problems and opportunities; every member can develop new ideas, information or ways to operate. The future is uncertain. Modern leaders must be humble and vulnerable enough to admit they don’t have all the answers – least of all that they can predict what will happen tomorrow. Rather than being stuck in ‘best practices,’ organizations need to promote an experimental mindset. Rules and processes
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t promote trust. Rules control how and what people should do, rather than enable them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company. Also, corporate rules tend to be one-way. Employees are supposed to clock in and out but are expected to reply to work emails during the weekend. Netflix’s unlimited vacation policy is the opposite – rather than tracking time, it focuses on performance. When a culture is built around accountability, people behave like adults – there’s no need to cheat.
Delegate decision-making rather than tasks
I have yet to hear a senior executive acknowledge that they are not good at delegating. The problem is that they task people with
managing projects but don’t delegate decision-making. No matter how empowered a team is, in the end, they always need their boss’s approval. Real delegation includes full accountability for both actions and repercussions. You can start by encouraging your team to make decisions in small doses. Safe-to-try decisions are an excellent contribution from Holacracy, a self-management system. It moves teams into action rather than waiting for the perfect solution or for the boss to chime in. Think of safe-to-try as a litmus test. To accept or reject a proposal, there are two questions the team should consider: • Will this decision move the team backward? • Will the proposal, if implemented, cause harm that cannot be mitigated promptly? There’s always time to course correct. Let the team adjust its path based on actual feedback instead of hypothesis based on fear or anticipation.
Trust people’s criteria over the process
Organizations that prioritize processes over results end up encouraging politics rather than accountability. Zappos gives its employees freedom to follow their own criteria versus telling them what’s right or wrong. An employee can send a new pair of shoes free of charge to a bride whose shoes never showed up without asking anyone for permission. Solving the client’s problem is priority number one – employees use their best judgment rather than follow a rigid process. Do you encourage your team to follow or break the rules? What is most important? To get the job done or to follow the process? Rules shouldn’t limit your team’s ability to perform their jobs. Breaking rules isn’t bad when it’s done with a purpose.
Encourage failure rather than protectionism
Helicopter bosses aren’t just micromanagers – they tend to be overprotective, too. By
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Freedom drives accountability – contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are trying to protect the team from getting hurt, they can cause more damage. Teams need to make mistakes to learn and grow. At Nixon McInnes, a social media company, the Church of Fail is a monthly ritual. Employees are invited to stand and confess their mistakes and are wildly applauded for doing so. Does your organization punish mistakes or encourage people to learn from them? Embracing mistakes promotes transparency and experimentation. Everyone makes mistakes; publicly acknowledging them ensures that people can learn from them and that others won’t make the same one. Also, mistakes are a means to an end – action is always better than inaction.
Provide challenges instead of direction
People want to be challenged so they can give their best. However, more than threequarters of workers believe their bosses don’t motivate them to unleash their true potential. Most senior managers tend to define the path rather than letting their team members find the solution. They provide unsolicited advice instead of challenging people with questions. When work is organized around projects, people’s responsibilities become repetitive and predictable, thus decreasing excitement and engagement. Assign challenges rather than tasks. It’s more interesting to be in charge of “How can we inspire and educate our clients?” than to be
the monthly newsletter manager. A challenge invites people to improve their game, not just to continue playing the same way. Leadership requires a new standard. Invite your team to co-create how your organization works and operates. Encourage people to experiment and fail, to break the rules with a purpose, to make decisions, and to prioritize results over processes. Freedom drives accountability – contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are. Your team is made up of responsible adults who should be trusted. They don’t need to be controlled. What you give is what you get. Gustavo Razzetti is the CEO of Liberationist, a change leadership consultancy that helps organizations become more innovative. He is also a keynote speaker and the author of Stretch for Change and Stretch Your Mind. For more information, visit liberationist.org.
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Equitable Bank Switch Mortgage Solution Is your client ready to make the switch to a mortgage that better meets their financial goals?
By removing some of the hurdles that exist when switching a mortgage to another lender, we’ve created a cost-effective switch option that makes it easy for your clients to pursue the mortgage option that works for them. Here’s how it works: • We permit up to $3,000 to be capped onto the loan to cover transfer-related fees1 • For mortgages that are registered as conventional charges, we cover the registration fee
• For mortgages registered as collateral charges, the collateral registration fee can be capped onto the loan2 • Loans with active transactional insurance receive high-ratio pricing irrespective of LTV • We accept switches from all three primary mortgage insurers3 • Some switches may qualify under “grandfathered rulings” permitting qualification on the contract rate, 30 year amortizations, purchase prices over $1MM, etc.
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1 This includes prepayment charges, discharge fees, collateral registration fees, etc. No equity takeouts permitted. Provided total charges/fees capped on the loan do not exceed $3000. All switches are re-registered as standard charges. | 3 All deals must be insured or insurable.
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER LIFE Email email@example.com
Committed to giving back, Calla donates all of the proceeds from her book sales to the Ca nadia n Y WCA
Years since Calla joined the mortgage industry
Years she has been a host of The Mortgage Show on CKNW AM 980
Stars Calla’s book, The Mortgage Code, has earned on Amazon
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EDUCATION Broker Angela Calla’s dedication to educating borrowers extends to a radio show, TV appearances and even a book AMONG THE broker channel’s perennial top performers is Angela Calla, who has centred her career around a passion for education. For more than a decade, she has fulfilled this calling through her weekly radio program, The Mortgage Show, on CKNW AM 980. Calla has also been a constant, prominent expert in various publications and media outlets,
including CityTV’s Realty Television and Breakfast Television. Calla’s commitment to education is particularly apparent in her best-selling 2018 book, The Mortgage Code, in which she devotes equal time to “deconstructing myths and misconceptions” surrounding the mortgage industry and providing information that borrowers can use to make the
best possible decisions for themselves. “There are so many options available to borrowers based on lifestyle, the economic market and property type,” Calla says. “Learning how to turn the tables to empower Canadians and give them the best advantage in a sea of options is exhilarating – the contribution you get to make to the success of each family’s personal journey.”
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Recognized in 2020 as one of the Fastest-Growing Companies This is not a commitment to lend. Restrictions may apply. LTV limitations are based upon a current, accurate appraised value in conjunction with proprietary analysis by Canadian Mortgages Inc. (FSRA #10601). Canadian Mortgages Inc. reserves the right to amend rates and guidelines. All loans are provided by Canadian Mortgages Inc., a private money lender.
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CMI operates exclusively within the CALL US1-888-465-8584 TOLL FREE brokerage community and brokers 1-888-465-8584 ALL US CALL US US TOLL TOLL FREE FREE alwaysTOLL retain ownershiFREE p of their CALL canadianlending.ca/brokers | email@example.com cl i e ntel e . 8-465-8584 1-888-465-8584 1-888-465-8584 canadianlending.ca/brokers | firstname.lastname@example.org We provide completely contactless mortgage solutions via a variety of online mortgage platforms, including: Filogix, Newton, Remote appraisals and digital closings (with a lawyer) are also available.
Q: What is your renewal process? A: Our Broker Partners are always reminded of upcoming mortgage maturity dates. We wil send you a renewal reminder 90 days prior to the renewal date, additional reminders are sent thereafter. You can then reach out to your client renewal, we wil always refer them back to you.
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CALL US TOLL FREE
This is not a commitment to lend. Restrictions may apply. LTV limitations are based upon a current, accurate appraised value in conjunction with proprietary analysis by Canadian Mortgages Inc. (FSRA #10601). Canadian Mortgages Inc. reserves the right to amend rates and guidelines. All loans are provided by Canadian Mortgages Inc., a private money lender.
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| canadianlending.ca/brokers email@example.com canadianlending.ca/brokers | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
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Everybody has a story
And a mortgage application doesn’t tell it all Let’s partner and ask the right questions to truly understand your client’s story. Together, we can develop the right financial solution. To see the whole picture, visit hometrust.ca/realstories
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