To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

0 Comments A Nice Stocking Stuffer – A Rate Hike

Article written by on the 14 Dec 2015 in Current Events,Economy,Interest Rates,US Politics

It looks like our neighbours south of the border will get something “special” this holiday season; like an interest rate hike. After almost nine years the U.S Federal Reserve rate is about to be increased.  Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, has been itching to raise rates for a while now, and the latest economic data from the U.S. gives her an opportunity scratch that itch. A rate hike is a signal to Americans, and the global economy, that worst is behind them, and the need for government to stimulate the economy is in the rear view mirror.

Or is it? The U.S. November job report indicated that over 200k jobs were added to the work force, their dollar is soaring, the unemployment rate has been cut almost in half to where it stood in 2008, so what’s not to be giddy about? Well, there is data to support that consumer spending, housing starts, and job creation have flattened. So the question is what happens if their economy has flattened, while at the same time the overnight lending rate is going up? Some pundits are actually suggesting that raising the rates now gives the Fed some wiggle room if they have to lower rate, yet again, to stimulate the economy. It’s not as if this hasn’t happened before.  Like back in 1930′s, a rate hike, followed by a quick rate drop, all the while knee deep in the Great Depression. Yeah – that little historical nuisance.

So what does the Fed’s move to increase rates mean for us here in Canada? For the time being, not much. We normally walk in lockstep with the U.S. Fed, but we’re about to decouple from that standard practice, and continue on the path we are on today. The reality is that our economy is still too fragile to mimic the Fed’s move. The oil sector in this country has been hammered, and the fallout has been far reaching. Some are suggesting (more…)

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0 Comments Jim Murphy — A Hearty Thank You

Article written by on the 24 Jul 2015 in CAAMP

When I received a call from the soon to be former CEO of CAAMP, Jim Murphy, to tell me personally that he is tendering his resignation, I was and wasn’t surprised. As he shared with me his rationale for wanting to pursue other opportunities, my mind was racing. Candidly speaking, images and the silent questions I started asking myself impeded my ability to truly comprehend and absorb every word spoken during that conversation. I think there’s a simple explanation as to why my mind started bombarding me with questions: it’s because Jim mattered, a lot. Now he’s leaving.

They say that timing is everything, and as cliché as that is, it holds  true in Jim Murphy’s case.  When Jim first joined CAAMP, it was raining mortgage applications. Hubris ruled; this was how it was going to be forever.  Then WAM!; 2008 comes along and forever changes our landscape. Jim’s knowledge and skill at navigating the hallways of Parliament ensured our voices would be heard. Prior to Jim joining CAAMP, we would be lucky to get a phone call returned from the Finance Department in Ottawa. Not long after Jim’s arrival, not only were our calls returned by the Finance Department, they began reaching out to CAAMP for data and input on mortgage related issues. Jim Murphy is invited to Ottawa every year for the reading of the new federal budget. (more…)

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0 Comments Alive & Well!

Article written by on the 29 May 2015 in Business,Customer Service,Merix Financial,Mortgage

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I thought it might be time to at least check in.  It has been rather hectic over the last few weeks.  Upon arriving home from our vacation, we were back on another plane in less than 24 hours for business purposes.  There’s been a lot of hotels, managing dirty laundry on the road and embedding really bad eating habits.  If I’m not careful, I’ll have to change the spelling of my name from Boris, to Borises. 

I headed back to my old stomping grounds this week – Vancouver.  DLC, Dominion Lending Centres, asked me to speak at their Owner’s Conference.  When asked if I would participate, the answer was quick – absolutely!  It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to meet with our customers and garner some insight into the cool and innovative things that DLC is doing.  Gary Mauris, Chris Kayat and Jay Seabrook of DLC have been very supportive of Merix, and if I can make even a small contribution to the success of their conference, I do so with pleasure. 

While in Vancouver, I was also pleased to be able to attend the 25th Anniversary Celebration of TMG, The Mortgage Group.  Wow!  I can’t believe how quickly time flies!  This is a homecoming of sorts for me.  Many, many moons ago, Grant and Debbie Thomas, Principal Owners of TMG, asked me to join their organization. I worked for Grant and Debbie for a number of years and upon reflection,  my time with TMG played a very important role in my career development and career path. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me and even more grateful for the enduring friendship which ensued.  Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary milestone!

Until next time.

Cheers,

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3 Comments Bidding Wars – An Easy Fix

Article written by on the 28 Mar 2014 in Mortgage

I wonder if purchasers who went through the bidding process would do it over again?   We’ve all made bad business decisions, it happens.
But if the purchaser feels like they were played, well, that’s not good for any of us.  The integrity of the real estate sales process is sacrosanct.

I assumed that real estate bidding wars was specific to pockets in the Vancouver and Toronto market place.  You know? Big home values, big incomes – the bigger-better syndrome.  Alas, my assumptions were incorrect.  I made a stop in Winnipeg a few weeks ago to meet with some of our broker supporters, and I was surprised to hear how prevalent bidding wars are in the Winnipeg market place.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the Globe ran article recently about what to do if you find yourself in a bidding war.  People on the front lines are talking about it, and Canada’s self-proclaimed National newspaper is providing advice on what to do if you find yourself in real estate auction.  I’ll assume that real estate bidding wars are no longer a one off or the exclusive domain of larger urban centers.

Should we care? I think we should.

Some would describe real estate bidding wars as the free market economy at work- a willing seller and a willing buyer.  The flip side of the definition is; the manipulation of the real estate process, predicated on an unsuspecting and uniformed buyer.  An argument can be made for both definitions.  Here’s where I stand -

I think it’s an unseemly practice, and should be stopped or at the very least an attempt should be made to curtail it.  Here’s how it works, the real estate agent convinces the vendor to list their property for slightly less than market value.  The listing states that no offers will be entertained for a period of time, somewhere between five to seven days.  Enough time is given to view the property, and hope that perspective purchasers, especially those who are frustrated and disillusioned because they’ve done this a number of times and have no home to show for it, will submit an offer on the prescribed date.  The hope is the offer will be based on emotion, excuse me…market reality, and over pay.  And that’s what’s happening with greater frequency today.  I often wonder if purchasers who went through this process could do it over again, would they?  We’ve all made bad business decisions, it happens.  But if the purchaser feels like they were played, well, that’s not good for any of us.  The integrity of the real estate sales process is sacrosanct.

The best way to ensure that the integrity of the real estate sales process is not questioned is by way of transparency.  The Competition Bureau’s attempt to have CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) publish the historical sale price for the listed property, is a step in the right direction.  CREA is fighting this because of “privacy” legislation. I find that interesting given that the information is already public, and one can find it if they have the time, and know where to look.  Finding historical sales data shouldn’t be laborious or treated as tradecraft.  We live in an age of instant information, and there’s no conceivable reason not provide this information to purchasers, and existing home owners.  If you want an example of how this can work, go to Zillow.com.  On this website is the listing of every property there is for sale in the U.S. It also provides estimated property evaluation, and historical sales activity for all properties.  It would be a valuable tool for anyone finding themselves in a bidding war.  If a realtor councils perspective purchasers to go in at “x” dollars, the council can be judged and validated as quickly as the purchaser can tap his/her tablet.  Transparency and information assists the purchaser to make a better decision.  A home is shelter, it’s also the biggest single investment decision that most people will make in their lifetime. 

There’s a self-serving reason why I would like to see theses bidding wars come to an end.  If the purchase price of the home is over market value, the appraisal is not going to come in.  That’s the point when everyone who was party to the over inflated purchase price runs for the hills, and start blaming those who are left to try and fix it, the mortgage broker and lender.  Rather unjust.

Oh yeah, my quick-fix solution is this, the mortgage amount is based on the purchase price or appraised value, whichever is lower.  We should add the listing to that as well.  That would pretty much end the gaming of perspective purchasers.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments Boredom in the Canadian Housing Market – It’s the best we can hope for

Article written by on the 06 Dec 2013 in Mortgage

Dorothy, Am I in Kansas? I ask because of the headline I came across this week in the Globe “A word to the doomsayers: Bank of Canada sees no housing crash”.  Seriously, where’s Glenda, the good witch of the North and the munchkins? It is pure fantasy to suggest the market is not going to crash.  Who would dare predict the “impending” crash will not result in the total decimation of our economy?  What snake oil salesmen would utter “soft landing” to describe the risk associated with the housing market in this country? Stand up and be counted.  Surely it cannot be someone in the know – unless of course you consider the Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz, as someone not in the know.

I get it, a mayor smoking crack, partying with escorts and hanging out with gang bangers is far more salacious, and garners eye popping headlines.  Throw in Rogers Communication paying in excess of $5 billion for the exclusive rights to televise Canada’s religious pastime, hockey, and it is understandable why something boring like an okay economy, and housing market not on the precipitous would get such little ink.  Frankly, as far as press coverage regarding the housing industry, this is the best we can hope for.  So when we hear the Governor of The Bank of Canada say, “The housing sector has been stronger than expected but is consistent with updated demographic data and a pulling forward of home purchases in light of favorable financing conditions”.  Excellent – a statement that elicits a yawn.  Or how about, “The Bank continues to expect a soft landing in the housing market”. Almost makes you sleepy.  I guess I could rant against the notion that the Bank of Canada “continues” to predict a soft landing but that would require energy, and I would need to take a nap first. 

As exciting as it is, the press may become bored with our industry, trust me, other words will be found to sell papers; words such as ‘bust’ and ‘bubble’ may be replaced by ‘disinflation’.  According to Investopidia, “Disinflation is commonly used by the Federal Reserve to describe situations of slowing inflation. Instances of disinflation are not uncommon and are viewed as normal during healthy economic times. Although sometimes confused with deflation, disinflation is not considered to be as problematic because prices do not actually drop and disinflation does not usually signal the onset of a slowing economy“.  By all accounts the Bank of Canada will be speaking to this issue going forward.  One way to combat disinflation would be if the Bank of Canada lowered the overnight lending rate.  Alex, I’ll take irony for $200, please.  But let’s not start that again.  Here’s to boredom.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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2 Comments CAAMP: The Next Chapter

Article written by on the 22 Nov 2013 in Mortgage

I’m still getting used to the idea that upon the end of CAAMP’s 2013 Mortgage Forum, which officially opens this Sunday, November 24th, it will mark the end of a six year journey for me.  My official duties as a board member, and as a member of the executive, officially ended at CAAMP’s most recent AGM.  As of the 27th of November, someone else will be responsible to set the path and direction for future conferences.  Whoever the privilege is bestowed upon to lead the conference in the future will be comforted by the fact that they will work alongside the extraordinary staff at CAAMP.  Mike Ellenzweig and the rest of the company work tirelessly to put on THE premier event of the year in the mortgage broker industry.  No disrespect to all the other conferences, but it is what it is.  Every year, just before the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the conference, Michael says to me in his deep baritone voice, “Bo…it’s in God’s hands now”.  Who am I to argue with Michael that God takes time away from his busy schedule to oversee the Mortgage Forum?  I will miss Michael’s dry sense of humour.

I am also going to miss the regular interaction with all the CAAMP staff, especially Samir Asusa and Jim Murphy.  Samir very quietly goes about his business.  For the uninitiated, a CFO’S role may not appear to be glamorous.  Number crunching, contract review may not be what one would consider sexy, but if it’s isn’t done properly an organization can get into a whole heap of trouble.  Samir, in large part, has ensured that CAAMP’s financial footing is very solid, and he’s treated every dollar collected with the respect is so deserves.  As for Jim Murphy, CAAMP’s President, a hardy thank you on behalf of the entire industry.  Jim’s steady hand, and political insight, will ensure that CAAMP will be able to navigate both chartered and unchartered waters in the future.  Jim made my job so much easier, and for that I am very grateful.  To Cara, Alison, Jeannie and Rocca, thanks for prepping me.  And lastly, to my friend Hali Strandlund, who called me and convinced me to run for a second term so I could sit on her executive team, thanks for making that call.

Six years is a lot of time to invest or more accurately volunteer.  My thinking is that if you’re going to invest that amount of time, then DO something.  I bristle, that’s code for my inside voice saying. OH..SHUT…UP, when people talk about their own legacy.  Others will determine the legacy, not some egomaniac.  But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking stalk of what you’re most proud of.  For me it was a few things, some visible and some not so much.  Six years ago I started to campaign that we should change a couple of our by-laws.  The first change, limiting the number of board seats that any one brand could occupy.  I believed this could pose a huge risk to our association.  In theory, one brand could occupy every board seat, thus ensuring that every executive position was made up of board members representing one brand.  If that ever came to pass our membership numbers would contract, quickly.  Thankfully the board, and the executive, agreed to deal with matter before it ever became an issue.  The second by-law change that I am proud of is term limits.  Today, the by-law states that a board member can only sit on the board for six years.  For CAAMP to flourish, fresh blood, a new way of thinking and passion is required.  My belief was that time served beyond six years would mean that the board member has gone beyond his/her expiration date.  Everyone has a shelf-life, and I believed it was in the association’s best interest to avoid the “is it time you to step aside” debate.  The approval and passing of a term limit by-law ensured that the association ecosystem would continue.

In the visible category?  I am so proud of our efforts in the political arena.  CAAMP took a leadership role in lobbying the government and regulators.  We stated clearly to the industry that was going to be our mandate going forward.  Today, our opinion matters, and our research is sought out by the Ministry of Finance, and regulators.  As long as CAAMP continues to make a commitment in this regard, our voice will grow stronger.  We may not win or get everything we want, but then again who does?  At the very least now we cans say we have a seat at the adult table.  Another one for the visible category, I’m proud of the transformation we made to the National Conference; from re-branding it to CAAMP Mortgage Forum, to partnering with the “Art Of”, ensuring a line-up of speakers that couldn’t even be imagined in the past.  We now dedicate one day of speakers to our industry, and the second day to macro issues, which ultimately impacts all of us.

It’s been a hell of a ride, but now it’s time for people a lot smarter than me to take the reins.  To all the board members I had the privilege of serving with, especially Hali Strandlund, Joe Pinheiro and Daryl Harris, thank you.  To all the members of CAAMP, I’ll sum up my six years on the board in two words…”I tried”.

Enjoy CAAMP Mortgage Forum 2013.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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3 Comments A Surreal Experience

Article written by on the 20 Sep 2013 in Business,CAAMP,Canada,Merix Financial,Mortgage,Personal

It’s amazing how many thoughts can race through your mind in a matter of seconds.  The images are vivid, yet vanish in seconds.

I had such an experience earlier this week.  There I was, about to start a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty and my mind went racing down memory lane.  For a split second, I found myself recalling the very first mortgage application I ever filled out. This was twenty five years ago.  I met my first customers on a Saturday morning, but as it was my first deal as a mortgage broker, I would have gladly have met them at 3:00am.  Oh, the knowledge I had back then.  For example, I was aware that mortgage’s was spelled with two “g’s”.  I was so wet behind the ears that I had to keep a drawer open in my desk so I could refer to an old Statement of Mortgage.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I kept taking a peek at a completed Statement of Mortgage.  I had to resist the urge to laugh at the memory.

“There were many other thoughts that kept running through my head, especially about CAAMP, and how far we’ve come as an association.”

In a couple of nanoseconds I also thought about the first time a fledgling national association called CIMBL made their way to British Columbia to pitch brokers on why they should become members.  I was in attendance at the pitch. I remembered standing at the back of the room listening to CIMBL’s talking head, saying without embarrassment, “if you do not become members of this association lenders will not pay you a finder’s fee.”  I couldn’t help but think, “you fool, you just set this new association back by three years in British Columbia”.  I was wrong, it was five years.  There were many other thoughts that kept running through my head, especially about CAAMP, and how far we’ve come as an association.

But I had to clear my mind and prepare for the meeting with Mr. Flaherty. Jim Murphy, CAAMP President, Daryl Harris, CAAMP Chair, and myself were given the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Finance this week.  The purpose of the meeting was to share our thoughts and concerns for the mortgage broker market.  Both Jim and Daryl did an outstanding job, laying out the facts in a balanced and measured way.  It was our hope that the Minister of Finance would view our positioning points through the lens of consumer choice and the important contribution the mortgage broker channel makes to the Canadian economy.  Jim Murphy has done yeomen’s work on behalf of our industry in Ottawa and this most recent meeting added another layer to the relationship foundation between CAAMP and the Finance Department.  Kudos to both Jim and Daryl.

As for my role at the meeting?  I spoke briefly about the important role that mono-line lenders, like MERIX, play in the mortgage broker channel.  Most importantly, the choice we provide for Canadian borrowers.  I also spoke briefly about the contribution that mono-lines make to Canadian tax role.  Mono-lines provide greater choice for borrowers but they’re also job creators.  I made it very clear that we ask for no favour.  The mono-lines are prepared to compete but the nuances and difference between mono-lines and banks should be factored when making decisions which impacts funding for the mortgage broker channel.  The Minister of Finance stated that his office would consult with our industry about all the recent changes and what our needs might be going into 2014.

One of the things I am most proud about during my time on the CAAMP Board is the relationship which has been built with Ottawa and the regulators.  I wasn’t too long ago when it was difficult to get a phone call returned from the powers that be. Today, the calls are being returned and we have an opportunity to sit at the adult table. Influence cannot happen without dialogue.  I believe CAAMP’s efforts are being noticed.  It’s why we don’t hear the “cash grab” argument with the frequency we once did.  Today, even the haters have some difficulty arguing that the nominal cost to be a member is not worth trying to protect our collective wallets.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

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0 Comments Now This Is Refreshing

Article written by on the 13 Sep 2013 in Canada,Current Events,Economy,Mortgage

I’m spending some time in airports this week, and I use that time to catch up my reading.  I came across an on-line article by Christina Pellegrini, “Why real estate doomsayers continue to be wrong.” The article originally appeared in the Financial Post Magazine.  There was something different and unusual about the article which left me out of sorts after reading it.  Figuring I must have missed the nuance, I read the article again.  Then it dawned on me. The story was fair, balanced and looked at both sides of the story.  That’s something which is sorely lacking when it comes to stories about the real estate/mortgage industry in our country.

For far too long the doomsayers have dominated the airwaves and print media.  I get it, it sells.  Crash, bust or apocalyptic meltdown gets more attention than a stable and balanced market.  But shouldn’t someone hold the doomsayers accountable or at the very least ask the question, “you were way off, please explain?”

Pellegrini attempts to do just that.  There was a great quote in the article from Canada Mortgage Trends, Rob McLister.  With respect to where prices may be at some point in the future, Rob said the following: “Anyone that purports to tell people where prices are going to be in two, three, fours years down the road is a fraud. Housing is stable at this point and there’s nothing on the horizon that we can say with certainty is coming that would derail the market.”

Facts and trends can be debated, and that’s healthy. The problem today is there doesn’t appear to be much debate.  Rob’s viewpoint, along with many other in the article, is not only refreshing but necessary.  A balanced story, irrespective of the topic, requires work.  It’s time for some to stop being intellectually lazy.

Until next time

Cheers

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1 Comments Free Speech: Monoline Lender Panel

Article written by on the 07 Jun 2013 in CAAMP,Mortgage

This week I had  the distinct pleasure to share the stage with Ron Swift, CEO of Pacific Mortgage Group,  Paul Grewal, President, Street Capital and Derek Norton,  MCAP Group of Companies during the monoline panel session at the CAAMP/MBBC Spring Conference & Trade Show. The panel discussion was about the state of the market and what our crystal ball says about the future of our industry.  To be totally frank I’m somewhat hesitant to participate on these panel discussions given some of my prior experiences.  I’ve been on panels in the past where panelists offered nothing but motherhood statements or they use the time to extoll the virtues of their own companies.  Being a part of some financial institutions gloried infomercial does nothing for me.   So now when I’m invited to take part in panel discussion, my agreement to do so will be based on who the other panelists are.  That’s why there was no hesitancy on my part when I was asked to participate at the conference in Vancouver. The gentlemen noted above know their stuff, and they speak freely.

I’m not sure what insights the audience garnered during the session but I can tell you I learned a few things.  For example, I have to remind myself that when I speak publicly I’m speaking to a much broader audience.  Someone mentioned to me, a few hours after the session, that there were a number of tweets during the panel discussion.  I’m still coming around to the notion that the social media is providing a vehicle for people to provide instantaneous commentary and judgement on what you’re saying.  Don’t get me wrong, even if I write “don’t forget twitter” on the palm of my hand prior to a public address it wouldn’t change my message.  What might change is certain phraseology.  After addressing audiences I always mentally critique my own performance and make note of things I could or should have said differently.  Today an improper or incorrect phraseology can become memorialized, thanks to twitter.

I always get feedback after participating at an event and the most recent event was no different.  The feedback is motivated by those simply being polite to those who wish to offer suggestions how the session could have better; which is code for how I could have done a better job.  No offense taken.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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3 Comments Mortgage Industry: The Evolution of Duplication

Article written by on the 05 Jun 2013 in Mortgage

By the time this blog is posted the CAAMP/MBABC Spring Conference and Trade Show will have come and gone.  In a spirit of cooperation, and market feedback, CAAMP and MBABC have worked closely together in an effort to meet the growing demand of members to eliminate duplication.  Not an easy task given that both associations share common interests, serving their members, while still being able to meet their financial responsibilities for the services they provided for their respective members.  It’s a balancing act to say the least.  Kudos to both associations for taking steps to address the issue of duplication, and for at least trying.

The issue of industry duplication is interesting and nobody has a clear cut answer as to how we can most effectively eliminate it. There was time when the CAAMP Mortgage Forum, previously known as the CIMBL Conference, was the go to event.  It was a unique opportunity in which all stakeholders could meet under one rooftop; equal measure of education, networking and socializing.  For many years the conference held its rightful place as THE event. But like everything else today, things changed.  The first wave of duplication started when the provincial associations decided to emulate the CAAMP Mortgage Forum.  Not suggesting that’s right or wrong.  What I am suggesting that if you have a conference with speakers, trade show, a gala event, guess what?  It’s a duck!  Geography does not change the experience, the format and the overall quality does.  Another contributor to the wave of duplication was made by CAAMP itself. A mini-me version of the national conference, regional symposiums, is in part, well, an imitation of the national conference.  Quack-quack.  The most recent wave of duplication is individual firms are now hosting their own national conferences, albeit in far more exotic locations. To be absolutely clear, I am not passing judgment on the wisdom of individual firms hosting such conferences.  If it works for them, and their employees are happy, terrific.  But if the format is the same as the industries national conference, as well as the Provincial one’s, foie gras anyone? Last but not least is the recent foray into mortgage conference world by a privately owned publishing company.  Certainly their propagative but the fact is they’re contributing to the duplication, and just because it’s theirs does not make it any different or special.  Can’t think of another duck reference other than the decision to create yet another conference is Daffy, as in the duck of course.  So there we have it a bunch of ducks, and I’m not suggesting any one is better than the other – just a lot of the same in our industry.
So what do we do as an industry going forward as it relates to duplication of conferences, golf tournaments etc.?  Firstly, we have to be completely honest with ourselves.  Do we really care? Or is this issue something for the industry to just grumble about?  I ask because last time I checked sponsorships and tickets are still being sold for the multitude of conferences being held across the country.  Everyone seems to attend and participate begrudgingly, but they still participate and attend.  So if you’re an organizer of one these conferences what do you make of this? I suspect the duplication debate will carry on, and in time we will find out if it’s a real or a perceived issue for the industry.  One thing is for certain, the industry desperately needs some creativity.  Kudos to those who care and are giving an honest effort do things differently, we need more people like you in the industry.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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1 Comments You Can’t Bring Our Industry Down

Article written by on the 18 Apr 2013 in Mortgage

The official first day of spring aside, there’s plenty of signs that spring is here; for example the weather.  The weather is a favorite conversation piece for Canadian’s.  Is it hot enough for you?  Is it cold enough for you?  Of course if you live in Ontario you can’t mention temperatures without referencing wind-chill factor or the humidex, it really feels like, (fill in the appropriate number).  It’s a weather inferiority complex that people of Ontario suffer from.  It always has to be colder or hotter, irrespective of where anyone else lives in Canada.  Oh hell, the entire world.  So I won’t go on about the temp’s but it does really feel like spring.  Plenty of sunshine and some golf courses are opening up.  Speaking of golf, you know spring is here once the Masters Golf tournament comes to an end.  It’s always sign for me that in very short order I will get a chance to work on my ulcer and ask myself why I like to play this stupid game.  Greatest book tittle I ever came across was, “Golf, A Good Walk Spoiled”.   My spring internal radar is a little off given that the Toronto Maple Leafs are about to qualify for the NHL play-offs.  The mind and body needs time to adjust to that shock because play-off hockey for the local team is foreign in these parts.  But the surest sign that spring is here is the level of activity in our industry.

Try as big brother might, it’s hard to keep a good industry down.  Sure, there’s been an impact because of the regulatory changes but you can tell by the recent vibrancy in the industry that we will all find a way to make things work.  The “we” I’m referring to is the collective “we”.  The activity levels, as well as the results, have picked up at MERIX.  No magic reason why.  It’s as simple as saying, “enough with the focusing on what we can’t control, and only focusing on what we can”.  It’s amazing what happens when everyone starts to buy into that.  Crutches and excuses are discarded, and the focus and conversations are squarely directed at solutions and innovation.  That’s contagious, and everyone can feed off of that.  Kudos to our communications department who came up with the MERIX 30 days of innovation.  It’s a fun way to connect with our customers, the mortgage brokers, for 30 days in a row in the hopes that we can bring some ideas that may assist our customers.  On Monday we launched our first video, and based on the feedback we’ve received already…I think we’re on the right track.  In the event that you missed it, here’s the video.  And here’s to a great spring market, and here’s bringing our attention to  what we can control.

 

 

 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments Q1: Mortgage and Housing Recap

Article written by on the 03 Apr 2013 in Mortgage

Now that the first quarter is in the review mirror, for those companies on a calendar year, we can now do our analysis to determine if the previous ninety days is a harbinger of things to come for the remainder of the year.  The experience, results, of the first ninety days of the year was difficult to label.  Changes to the mortgage rules, consumer confidence and weather had to be factored when trying to determine if this was the “new norm”.  Speaking to many of my industry colleagues, no one could say with any certainty that the most recent results are now the “new norm”.  That was my stock answer when I was asked but I think hard data is providing clarity.

There’s an old adage that I’m rather fund of, the numbers are what you are.  Rationalization or any form of sugar coating does not change the numbers.  The same holds true for the industry.

Here are some facts courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association:

  1. National home sales declined 2.1% from January to February
  2. Housing activity came in 15.8% below levels in February 2012
  3. The national average sale price was down 1% on a year over year basis in February
  4. Housing inventory is now 6.8 months, compared to 6.4 month for the previous month.

So what do these stats mean?  Firstly, the numbers above shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone who has been in this industry longer than it takes to have a cup of coffee.  We all felt it in the first quarter but waited on data to provide the proverbial exclamation point.  Also, angst and misery loves company.  “Ah, it’s not just me”.  No, it’s not just you but when you get beyond that you start dealing with the matters at hand.  The numbers provide a road map for all of us.  The housing inventory today suggest we’re in a balanced market, supply and demand.  Too much supply leads to equity erosion, and too much demand leads to irrational values.  The elimination of both is good for our respective business, and the market as whole.  According to statistics new listings are down sixty per cent; concerning at face but extremely positive relative to values.  Home owners are not dumping properties by slashing pricing.  Employment is stable, cheap money is available, therefore, home owners are less inclined to have a fire sale.  I think it’s clear that cheap money will be available well into 2014, and if the bottom doesn’t fallout to our economy, directly impacting employment rates, home values should remain stable.

Factoring in B.C. –

The national home price average looks different if you remove the BC numbers.  Statistically B.C. impacts the national numbers positively and negatively given the median price in B.C.  So the impact of the “new norm” will depend largely in part on what region of the country you do business in.

Changes to mortgagee rules were intended to slow things down.  Mission accomplished.  Now we all have to deal with the reality of the market place.  Banks will continue to invest heavily in their propriety sales forces, meaning even more competition for mortgage brokers.  First time home buyers were impacted the most by all the changes to mortgage rules, and as we all know the first time home buyer is the mortgage broker’s sweet spot.  Consumer confidence is an issue, and all the negative chatter has had an impact.  So, this is now the “new norm” – to that I say, “fine”.  Adversity and challenges leads to collaboration.  If you’re a mortgage broker reading this, your issues are my issues because my business depends on yours.  By working together we’ll overcome the challenges, and we’ll get our respective share by taking it from others.

Until next time,

Cheers

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