Original Source: CMP
After some of the most dramatic years on record for the mortgage community in Canada, agents and brokers are gearing up for what promises to be another eventful 12 months ahead.
While 2020 and 2021 were historic for the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and an unexpected housing market boom that ensued, last year was an equally seismic one for mortgage professionals and their clients as a marked cooldown gripped the space.
Rising interest rates, a cost-of-living crisis and stormy economic waters created a host of new challenges for Canadian borrowers, with many existing homeowners grappling with higher monthly mortgage payments and would-be buyers facing a spike in qualifying rates to secure a loan.
The Bank of Canada has signalled that it may be ready to hit pause on interest rate hikes in the first part of 2023, but that market turbulence shows little sign of abating just yet – so what should brokers and agents be keeping in mind about their approach in the year ahead?
For Tracy Valko, principal broker and founder of the Ontario-based Valko Financial, the market adjustment of recent months meant it was doubly important to focus on relationship building with clients, “bringing the humanity back into brokering and being more relatable.”
Being able to empathize with clients and guide them through the difficult market conditions that have arisen in recent months is set to prove an invaluable trait for agents and brokers in the year ahead, she added.
Valko was speaking as part of a panel discussion convening leading brokers to hear their view on the current market at the recent Canadian Mortgage Summit in Mississauga.
“One thing that we’ve done with our agents and brokers [is] we’ve brought in more of that relationship [building],” she said. “How do you deal with that for yourself? How are you able to relate better with your agents, brokers, clients and referral partners so you can be stronger when you’re talking to them about financing and the clients’ short- and long-term goals?
“People leadership [is] about all of us as individuals, as agents. We have to make sure that we’re becoming more compassionate about our clients, what they’re going through, what their families are going through, and what we’re going through as a society. And we have to make sure that we’re bringing calmness and perspective to people. It’s about education, calmness, and clarity.”
How important will education be for agents and brokers in 2023?
While these may be trying times for Canada’s mortgage market, Valko emphasized that it always recovers, but just takes time. In the meantime, she stressed the importance of agents and brokers arming themselves with as much education and knowledge as possible to provide as relevant and timely advice as possible to new and existing clients.
That’s especially relevant, she added, with the mortgage landscape having witnessed a profound shift during COVID-19. “If you look at the last two years even with the pandemic, people are working two or three jobs. A lot of people are working remote, 100% at home and they may have two different jobs. They may be receiving income not based on salary,” she said.
“So being able to fit a client or a couple’s income into a certain category with a lender is becoming more complicated. You have to understand all the different lenders out there, all the different products.”
The value of a strong support team in the year ahead
With that in mind, a priority for agents and brokers in the coming year should be focusing on the team at their disposal and making sure they have the exemplary underwriting support required to provide peerless service.
“This is where I think it’s very important as a broker or agent: our gifts are sales. Our gifts are the communications when we talk to our clients,” she said. “Not so much is on the underwriting side, and why I say that is because I think if you want to truly grow your business and you want the volume, you have to make sure you’re partnered with a brokerage that gives you the underwriting support.
“If you’re an agent or broker and you’re trying to build your business, how are you going to do that and underwrite a deal? You have to have the support, you have to have a family and a team in a brokerage that can support you with that. So it’s definitely important to make sure you have all the knowledge out there in the industry.”