Don't go west young man?

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It’s a buzz killer for young agents looking to escape competitors in larger cities, but the idea of virgin territory anywhere in Canada no longer exists, says one seasoned player.

“So is a boom town the place to go and chase your mortgage fortune?” asks Len Lane, broker/owner of Verico Brokers For Life. “Is there a virgin market left in Canada? I don't see one.”

The analysis comes as a growing number of young agents consider abandoning Canada’s mature markets such as Vancouver and Toronto for mining and oil towns, now gearing up for another economic growth spurt.

Many of those hopefuls are looking to Fort McMurray, at the centre of Alberta’s oil sands. It’s now one of the busiest places in the country, with listings for $450,000 mobile homes to now more than over 60 $1 million-plus ones.

It’s a market Lane, now based in Edmonton, knows well. That’s inside knowledge young agents just striking out for that oil-rich community sorely lack, he said.

“The mortgage industry (in Fort Mac) is very busy and many brokers from across the country target this mega market hoping to make a dent,” he told “But there are a dozen mortgage brokerages here already, many who have offices in Fort McMurray.

“The major banks have a huge sales force for a population of 80,000 people -- RBC has six specialists, BMO has four, Scotia has two and the credit unions each have a full complement of specialists.

It’s the kind of traffic brokers heading to other natural resources hubs are now encountering, after having picked up stakes in hopes of capitalizing on the large number of other migrants heading there to work.

Agents may need to give that plan a second thought, argued Lane.

“Packing up and heading up Highway 63  to Fort McMurray, where you'll find a very close knit community of realtors, mortgage specialists and bankers may not be a good investment in your time,” he said, before striking a more hopeful note. “Are there markets coming back on stream? Yes, and they all seem to be west of the Ontario border.”


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