How do you sell a mortgage to a community of people who distrust banks and are unfamiliar with the concept of a mortgage? One Alberta broker has the answer.
“The term ‘mortgage’ is a foreign term for the Mexican Mennonites,” says Graham Reimer, a mortgage associate with Dominion Lending Centres
Mortgage Excellence in Lethbridge, Alta., who has tailored over half of his business for this growing community in his province. “They don’t trust the banks with their money, so it is incumbent on us to build that trust and educate.”
When the Mennonite community of Mexico began migrating to southern Alberta to escape the growing drug cartel wars, they like everyone else in Canada wanted to share the dream of owning a home. And today, that migration has made Low German the second-most dominant language in Alberta, Reimer told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
But a culture that has learned from generations of living in Mexico to distrust the banks, and conducts deals with handshakes and personal reputation – not signed legal documents – requires a unique approach that Reimer and Mortgage Excellence have developed and succeeded in applying.
“I’ve aimed half of my marketing efforts to the rural Alberta market, where the Mennonites are working as labourers in the farming sector,” he says. “Also, I’ve aligned myself with a financial planner who speaks Low German. At our seminars for these newcomers, he explains how to get life insurance, how a mortgage works, how to establish credit.”
The seminars are a necessity, says Reimer, as Mexico has a completely different way of doing things, and the two or three seminars held each year are essential to explaining how the Canadian system works.
“We’ve had a huge spinoff from this,” he says. “So many have their money ‘under the mattress’, and it is necessary to explain to them that a down payment is more than just handing over a bag full of cash.”
More importantly, the cultural learning curve has been one for Reimer too.
“For the Mennonites, establishing trust is done in a face-to-face meeting and with a handshake. You don’t have people doing an Internet rate search here,” he says. “I have so many clients who will drive two hours for a face-to-face meeting. Relationships like this are absolutely key to making this work, and I make sure that every deal is done this way.”