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Mortgage Broker News | 21 Jun 2013, 12:00 AM Agree 0
One broker tired of doing all the work and watching the client jump ship to a big bank matching rate is reigniting the debate on exclusivity agreements.
  • Elfie Hayes | 21 Jun 2013, 08:45 AM Agree 0
    I believe it's about 15 years ago now, (this is just my estimate) that the Real Estate industry instituted Agency Agreements to protect Real Estate Agents from the same thing we face in our industry today.

    If you have a signed agreement with a buyer and you do the work of finding a home for them, they can't buy that property through their friend and have the commission go to them. Not dis-similar to our own situation where the Bank is the friend who slipes in after all the grunt work is done.

    It gave a level of commission protection to the agent that did the work of finding a home for a buyer. The MLS listing has always assured the Listing Agent that they would be paid if the transaction was successful.

    I have often wondered why we don't have a similar agency agreement in our own industry.

    Our Association should be helping us in this instance but since all the Banks also hold memberships to CAAMP, that would not be in their best interest. Once again I question the benefit of CAAMP.
  • Paolo Di Petta | | 21 Jun 2013, 09:11 AM Agree 0
    This is the sort of issue CAAMP should be going to bat for us for with the government, not changing the mortgage rules back.

    Sadly, I doubt we'll ever see it.

    Vote with your dollar - Is that CAAMP membership fee worth it?
  • Margaret Shinners | 21 Jun 2013, 09:18 AM Agree 0
    I am a big supporter of Lenders with Loyalty Programs. I have kept in touch with many of my clients and I can tell that 120 before renewal if they don't return my calls or emails that they have been talking to the bank. We just can't buy loyalty.
  • James | 21 Jun 2013, 09:31 AM Agree 0
    Just an "off the cuff" idea. Maybe the commission/compensation model ineeds some tweeking. What if the lenders just paid us fewer bps for every approved application submitted? Then the bank/lender's staff take over the deal at that point. If the deal doesn't close we still get paid something. We have a pretty good closing ratio, so this idea may not be for everyone.
  • Najeeb Sumrani | 21 Jun 2013, 09:36 AM Agree 0
    This is the issue CAAMP has to come up with reply to, in the best interest of her members, otherwise there is no point in paying fees to CAAMP, if they are not be able to assist their members. they are charging $ 250 every year without doing any thing , atleast I have not seen any advantage for paying them.
  • No Filters | 21 Jun 2013, 09:59 AM Agree 0
    - CAAMP isn't in your best interest. The organization is a 'gong show'. Show me the net benefit you receive besides a few fancy dinners where everyone gets to pat each other on the back.

    -People will sign your exclusivity agreement and still bail on you. Then they will cry and pretend like you're abusing them like it's some misjustice when you show them what they signed.

    - When things get tough, there will be a lot of questions asked in this industry. Will you have the guts to do what you need to do?

    -"They don’t know the process or how the process works." Most people don't care how the process works. They want the best 'deal' and to continue on with their lives. Ask yourself whether you care about the 'process' that goes into fixing your PC or why your email is down. You don't.
  • citizen | 21 Jun 2013, 10:01 AM Agree 0
    How would brokers feel if Lenders charged for deals that were submitted that didn't close?

    As sales people, brokers should be responsible for closing their own deals. If I shop for a car and the car salesman takes me on a test drive but I end up taking the bus, should I really have to pay for that test drive?

    It's part of sales, plain and simple. If you can't handle it, then find a salaried position.

    I would never deal with a broker who required borrowers sign had such an agreement!
  • JP future broker | 21 Jun 2013, 10:12 AM Agree 0
    James, I like your idea. A referral flat fee on approvals. Banks spend a lot of money on origination and hot leads like these could potentially reduce their costs as well. There could be something to this idea. Remember we are selling a service, the rates belong to the Lenders.
  • Robert Stanfield, INVIS | 21 Jun 2013, 10:24 AM Agree 0
    This comment is not an attack on anyone commenting in this forum, just my opinion. If you lose clients after spending time with them, then it just means someone else (bank or broker), did a better job. It is ludicrous to think a client will sign a document stating they owe a fee if they don't close with you, they just won't use you, period. Any person in a client orientated business needs to look at where their process went wrong if they are losing deals, don't just blame it on rate. If you really look at every client, you will be able to see where you lost the deal, and it seldom has to do with rate, because we are all within .10% to .05% of each other. You can't request a client to sign a document like this unless you have earned their business, and if you have earned their business, you won't need a form like this signed.
  • gemma | 21 Jun 2013, 10:26 AM Agree 0
    I am shocked by this article. Aren't we supposed to do what is best for the client? Compensation should not be #1 for anyone in this field.
  • Betty Talbot | 21 Jun 2013, 10:35 AM Agree 0
    I have a contract signed by the client for every deal that I do. If my performance doesn't measure up they can fire me, but if they are happy with my service and the deal we agreed on up front and still don't close with me, I have the right to get paid.
  • Liz Doyle | 21 Jun 2013, 11:15 AM Agree 0
    Last year I created for myself and my Brokers/Agents what I call a "Client Acknowledgement & Agency Agreement" be used as part of the regular process with every client. If I have explained how things work to a client upfront and a client sees the value in the service I am agreeing to provide, they should have no issue signing the agreement which basically states that IF I am able to obtain a mortgage at an agreed upon rate of 'x' (or lower) for a term of 'x' (and any other specific terms/conditions may be included) then they are committed to moving ahead with me and are accountable for the amount of commission I would have earned on the mortgage should they choose not to close on the deal (this can be a flexible amount and you could use a retainer-type $ amount in some circumstances if preferred); (Note that no money can ever be paid upfront by the client for mortgages less than $300K (against Ontario MBLAA regulations) and in the event that a client does walk away after a commitment is obtained, any amount payable by the borrower would be paid via the brokerage company.

    If there is an issue signing, then the relationship ends and I have wasted no more of my time and can move on to invest my time on clients who do see the value in the service I provide and are willing to commit.

    Despite being available to offer a great value proposition through sound advice, personal consultation a wide variety of mortgage options and great rates to borrowers, the broker channel model is currently setup in such a way that borrowers can and will continue to use us. And we have all come across those who know how and do - but we are allowing this to happen. Until WE change our own model and business practices individually this will continue to happen. While our associations can offer examples and suggestions of ways to do business, we as individuals working in the field need to take responsibility to own it ourselves by adjusting the way we do business; Using some form of 'Agency Agreement' (as its known in real estate) will help to maintain the viability of the channel and ensure that the value of the service we provide - through choice and options - can continue.

    I have put my own agreement together based on examples I have come across from various sources within the industry as well as incorporating disclosure obligations required under Ontario MBLAA and regulations. The document I have created serves three purposes: (1) it gets a client to commit to me and I can therefore commit my time wholeheartedly in return to that client knowing we are moving forward together; equally as important however...(2) it serves to address some of my 'disclosure' that is required under Ontario MBLAA regulations. (3) it outlines some obligations and sets expectations for the client ie. in terms of providing documentation, not applying for other credit during the application process, etc. - opening up lines of communication, ensuring there is no misunderstanding and nothing is missed.

    In some instances I will have the Agreement signed prior to submitting any application to any lender, and other times where I am more confident in my client's loyalty, it is part of my package of documents for client to sign once commitment/approval is received.

    I believe brokerages, brokers and agents need to come together on this issue - so that standards are consistent across the board and our hard work and commitment to clients does not continue to be taken advantage of.
  • Brad | 21 Jun 2013, 11:54 AM Agree 0
    I think rate plays a part in why we lose clients. Clients also already feel a loyalty to their bank and will be inclined to stay with them if they can match our rates. I have personally lost about $2M in deals in the last month. One was lost to another broker who was going to cover the client's legal costs....and the others all went with their banks. All of them said they will not hesitate to recommend me and the only reason they went with the other lender was to save money. Of course I doubt I will ever see a referral. The lost commission hurts, but having to cancel committed deals with lenders can affect relationships with those lenders as well as your status.

    I have been trying to figure out ways to reduce this number of lost deals. I'm not sure signing a document is the answer. I think I am going to have a brief discussion with my clients up front educating them on how I make my money and the fact that I am selling more than a rate. If rate or having their legal fees paid for by me is their main goal, then I am probably not the broker for them.

    Having the client sign an agreement might scare the client, plus from what I understand, would be very difficult to enforce.
  • Nolan Matthias | 21 Jun 2013, 12:55 PM Agree 0
    We have been using exclusivity agreements fro 2 years with success. Every client we take on signs one, and the clients themselves recognize it as a higher level of service.

    The client is given outs should we not perform our job properly, and as long as we get them an approval we are protected from rate shoppers, discount brokers, and banks on renewals.

    The only thing stopping this from being common place in the industry is that the majority of brokers do not know how, or are scared to present it.

    Our clients love the fact that we make a commitment to them, and that they in return do the same.
  • citizen | 21 Jun 2013, 01:11 PM Agree 0
    Just a question to those brokers who make clients sign agreements, do you share those fees with the lenders when the deals don't close? After all underwriters may have wasted their time as well.

    I agree with Robert Stanfield, if you have earned their business, you won't need a form like this signed.

    Sounds to me it's the scared brokers that use these agreements.
  • Leigh Graham | 21 Jun 2013, 01:16 PM Agree 0
    On some level I agree with most of the comments here, on both sides. Numbers are relative, but I've managed to retain 90% of renewing clients over multiple renewal cycles (if anyone really wants to know how many deals or clients that is, call me, I'll share), and controlled the process with existing lenders for another 5% (who could not be switched due to circumstance). I have conceded 5% of my business to banks and death, both of which seem inevitable.

    Rate shoppers are a fact of life - I do not consider this an issue worth fighting over. The same goes with competing against other mortgage brokers who pay legal fees, etc...if you want to get into a pissing match with a billion dollar institution or an individual preparing to sell themselves short, go for it.

    With that said, I have utilized an exclusivity contract with clients (3, to be exact) over the years, when I felt that clarifying my position & ability was worth it to this client. I thankfully have never had to enforce one.

    Those who have commented on the bigger picture concept - Gemma, Robert Stanfield - are on the right track.

    This industry requires more communication on the part of its agents to its consumers. This is not a CAAMP issue nor a bank issue, and certainly not a compensation issue. If you do a good job, you will make money in this business.

    Doing good things for people, doing the right things for people, being truthful, being honest - these are undeniably cheesy but are the cornerstones of any successful business. This industry needs more of all of this - not because we are dishonest to any degree - but because we are simply not honest enough.

    The hardest trick I learned in this business was how to tell people how I get paid, and why. This industry gets scared about talking to people about how we make our money, and about having to challenge our clients to commit to us and why. The biggest challenge therefore is weeding out your potential customer challenges before they arise - i.e. personality conflicts, rate shoppers, etc...and either deterring them OR walking away and wishing them the best. Any new business I have 'lost' over the years was not mine anyway OR was my choice to do without. I do not feel it is my right to demand payment as a result. There will be circumstances where it does not feel this way - we all have offices, staff, costs, not to mention houses & kids, and need to provide for them. But industry infighting over how to secure clients or the validity of CAAMP will not help us increase business.

    Rather than CAAMP creating exclusivity agreements, which lend itself towards - what? Client distaste, bad reputations, small claims court, etc...? - Instead, focus on educating mortgage originators to BE salespeople, educators, quarterbacks for the purchase process, financial planners, and who knows, even friends to their client.

    If the shift of a mortgage provider's attention stayed away from whether or not I'm getting compensated for this deal or not TO one of commitment to the client's bettering their circumstances, the business & therefore compensation will flow naturally. Banks are only as strong as their bankers - and mortgage agents are generally far more educated, competent, and devoted to their clients than a bank employee. All your clients have to do is recognize this, and you will get paid on that deal.
  • Paul Mangion | 21 Jun 2013, 01:58 PM Agree 0
    Been using an agreement for years and have never had a client refuse to sign. If I client did refuse to sign then I will assume they have another agenda. Most clients will cut a check or stay once they realize the service is not free. Anybody who disagrees with me has never done hours of work only to have the bank that originally rejected them come to the table a day before closing, give the client a guilt trip and match our rates. If anything the internet has empowered people to waste our time and I for one will not stand for it. I didn't see any comments about funding ratio's which are also very important to me!
  • Liz Doyle | 21 Jun 2013, 02:05 PM Agree 0
    To the point made to position this is key. This is not about 'being scared', 'forcing' clients to sign or focussing on compensation vs client needs. And its not appropriate for EVERY client in EVERY situation. Its simply a resource available to use where appropriate - another tool to have in the tool chest. If done right, it helps demonstrate that you are running a business (not a charity or non-profit) in a professional manner and, when presented appropriately, clients recognize and appreciate that you are offering a truly personalized service and continue to be available to them after the mortgage closes, as opposed to just selling a rate and looking at a mortgage as a transaction. If you are committing your time and attention through a truly consultative approach, this is as much about you providing in writing what you are going to do for them and what the expectations are (of you and them). As far as enforcing, its not about that. However as an aside, I have seen a scenario in the past where a local TD bank branch made the payment to the brokerage on behalf of the clients in order secure the deal themselves (mother of first-time buyers who was aghast that a broker had been used and referred daughter/son-in-law to her own bank branch). There are many reasons over and above rate that a client may end up choosing to go with another funding source. Perhaps if banks knew that broker policy included a written agreement such as this, they would be more willing to offer up their best rate to clients upfront rather than getting clients (ie brokers) to do all the work, and ride in at the 11th hour to steal the deal. I believe lender funding ratios overall would see an increase also. Perhaps lenders could pay a small increase in bps if a signed agreement is provided along with the signed commitment thus improving the chances of funding and not wasting fulfillment time post-commitment.
  • Robert Stanfield, INVIS | 21 Jun 2013, 02:36 PM Agree 0
    I think most of these comments are missing the bigger picture, "if you don't do the best job and offer the best product, you don't deserve the client and the commission".
    We do live in a free society, do we not????

    So when you lose a deal because someone offered something better, and you have all these agreements in place, what do you do to collect:
    1) send a collection agency after the client?
    2) get a lawyer to chase them through small claims court?
    3) register a collection on their bureau so they are forced to pay you the next time they need to obtain financing?

    Would you sign one of these agreements every time you meet with your financial advisor, but choose not to make the investment? What about when you go to buy a car, or when you go to the electronics store, get educated and then go to Costco to buy your electronics because it was $50 cheaper.

    We live in an economic society where great service, knowledge and being honest is rewarded with customer loyalty. Not in an economic society where even though you didn't earn my business, I still have to pay you the commission due because your product, or you, were not equal to what someone else could give me, that seems a little ridiculous.

    Rather than worrying about how to collect on a client that went elsewhere, try and find out WHY that client went elsewhere? PLEASE don't use the rate crutch, truly look at your process. I have clients that stay with me all the time after we (together in a physical meeting) calculate out the differences between the different offerings and the options available and not available. I don't rate match and clients stay with me. The highest difference that a client still stayed with me over was $1,600 over 5 years. I guess the client saw a $1,600 value in what I offer my clients on an annual basis, not just at renewal every 5 years.

    I could be wrong and don't mean to start WW 3 here, but most of the agents I find that whine about losing all their business, do most of their business without physically meeting their clients and getting to know their clients. Of course you will lose a good percentage of your business, you haven't created any value proposition for your clients.

    Just my humble opinion.
  • Robert Stanfield, INVIS | 21 Jun 2013, 02:44 PM Agree 0
    I will disclose that I do use agreements with commercial deals but that is an entirely different subject and commercial clients are fully aware of the cost and time involved in the transaction, which could take months and months to close.

    Please don't say there is a comparison between this process in commercial transactions and residential transactions. There is NO comparison if you are involved in TRUE commercial business.
  • risk manager | 21 Jun 2013, 08:26 PM Agree 0
    Excellent posts Mr. Stanfield (and others)!

    To those who think an "exclusivity agreement" is the answer, you need to rethink the question.

    BTW, I work for a bank, suspect I understand the mortgage world better than 99% of the general population, and have a mortgage coming up for renewal in 8 months. I am considering using a Broker at renewal, but I can honestly say if they stuck such an agreement in my face and asked me to sign, I would laugh in their face and walk straight out the door!

    It is up to you to prove to me you have added value; I especially like the car sales analysis! I have the right to walk away at any time I credit rating and a free market gives me that right. You want to chase fees, go after the sub-prime market.
  • Ron Price/DLC | 22 Jun 2013, 01:38 PM Agree 0
    Obviously a hot topic.
    I am passionate about this issue and believe the answer is simple.
    Lock the client in with a clause in the lender's commitment,period. Just like when you sign a cell phone contract. If you leave, you lose and must pay a penalty.
    Yes CAAMP 'should' take up this issue and they should be the perfect venue to do so because they represent brokers and lenders both. OK so the banks won't go along will they? That leaves the mono lines who would I believe gain market share if they banded together and put such a clause in the mortgage commitment. This is what has to happen. It would be a smart move by the monos. I wrote MCAP over a year ago recommending they do this, and did not even get a response. IT IS A WAR folks and we as an industry should refuse to send any business to the banks, especially due to the evil new collateral mortgage product they suck people into taking without proper (any) disclosure. This is absolutely a black and white issue that can be fixed easily.
    Come CAAMP do something really valuable for us for a change will ya?
  • Jill | 24 Jun 2013, 10:27 AM Agree 0
    I have a list that increases every year or so this list is a compilation of clients that have used me to shop their bank after I had spent a lot of time structuring a deal and having commitments in place. S/E clients that we spend a lot of time on trying to get their income to qualify in order to save them some money! Those people I have a fee agreement with if they close with me the deposit is 100% refundable if they don't it is not. I will not work with them at all until it is signed and the money is received. So far I have not collected any deposits and haven't wasted any more of my time on them. :)
  • Jason Friesen | 24 Jun 2013, 10:50 AM Agree 0
    I guess the question is - would you really want to work with a client that only went through closing their deal because they were contractually obligated to? If a client is going to leave, let them go.

    You need to go deeper than just providing the client with a mortgage commitment and a rate and sending them on their way. If you take the time to get to know them and dig deeper and provide that personalized, expert service with a genuinely caring attitude they will be extremely loyal. Do a good job servicing your clients and give them what they need by asking more questions and digging deeper and expanding your service (team up with financial advisors/insurance advisors/lawyers/accountants) and blow them away on the customer service experience. If you create a value that they cannot get elsewhere the thought about leaving you doesn't even come into their minds. That is what you need to do.

    Are there times we lose clients, of course there are times every mortgage broker in every market loses a deal but you have to find out what the root of the problem is and fix it. If you are constantly losing clients based on rates then do a better job pre screening them and eliminating the clients that you think are not going to value your service up front and not letting it get to the application stage where they eventually cancel.
  • CAAMP to the rescue | 24 Jun 2013, 11:03 AM Agree 0
    A couple issues inside the article. 1) Should CAAMP really be the body that is fighting for the Broker who is losing business? 2) Is an agreement really going to be the reason someone stays or goes? But maybe the biggest issue is that if 30+% of your business is walking out the door after you have written the file you better have a long hard look in the mirror. If your marketing is working but your expertise/education/service levels/etc. are allowing for that significant amount of business to walk out the doors you have bigger issues. $300 000 revenue out the door pays for a lot of training and good staff to help keep that business.
  • Ron/DLC | 24 Jun 2013, 11:59 AM Agree 0
    Thanks for your comments.
    Would be nice to know who you are and who you work for.
    Secondly your presumptions are wrong. We lose very little business this way and our volume is in the top one per cent of our industry.
    I am simply addressing an issue that I believe has a simple answer. Give our commitments some teeth just like most other contracts out there.
  • John Dearin | 24 Jun 2013, 01:17 PM Agree 0
    We have lost deals back to the bank after getting a rate 75bps below what the client was originally offered. The bank only matched ours no difference int he terms, it was just "easier to stay with the bank" I had one client say the CIBC girl told her to go rate shop with a mortgage broker and if she could get a better rate in writing she would have the evidence to go to her manager and match. We call these people "Bank Wh^@es". What kind of person goes out and does the bankers job, has me do hours of work, then stays with the bank? There are some pretty low class people out there. My comment to them is simple...the bank tried to rob you of your hard earned money...I worked hard to save you money, and then you are staying with the bank that tried to rob you? Bank Wh^@%E.
  • Paul Mangion | 24 Jun 2013, 01:36 PM Agree 0
    It is absurd to not protect yourself from people who waste your time. Any agent who doesn't because he's god’s gift to mortgage brokering is someone who doesn't think well of his brokerage, lending partners or his time. They usually disagree with these comments because of their inability to sell it or worst, they condone this behavior.
  • Ron Price/DLC | 24 Jun 2013, 01:46 PM Agree 0
    Paul and John....EXACTLY.
    It's not a big issue for us, but it is the principle of the thing. Who likes being used? Nobody.
    Will someone address my proposed solution?
    What do you think?
    Thank you.
  • Paul Mangion | 24 Jun 2013, 01:51 PM Agree 0
    Ron. It would be nice to have an agreement that puts all brokers in the same position and it may stop a lot of this customer BS. But you will have brokers that will object and FSCO really only cares about the consumer so it is highly unlikely it will ever happen. So protect yourself and your brokerage and let the other brokers pay the price of not being proactive on these issues.
  • Cory | 24 Jun 2013, 01:59 PM Agree 0
    Ron, what type of clause are you suggesting? How is a clause on a monoline commitment going to stop a client from leaving your office to go down the street to (insert bank here)? I see clauses on broker disclosure document, client consent forms, etc having value, but how is a clause on a mortgage commitment going to protect you? I need more clarification around your thoughts. Based on my initial thoughts I see no way for the monolines to band together to stop people from shopping around, maybe I am missing your point.
  • Lior, Mortgage Edge | 24 Jun 2013, 02:35 PM Agree 0
    John Dearin:

    I totally get what you are saying and you are absolutely right. You are running a business and some people just like to pit everyone, brokers and bankers, against each other to secure the best price.

    It's the nature of the beast and if you run a mortgage business that's concentrating on the triple-A market, it is going to be competitive for both you and the bank reps.

    I read a column by Callum Ross a few months ago and even he gets the occasional client who bails on him a week before funding for a bank offer.

    Become specialized and this will become less of a problem. The mortgage market in Canada is worth over a trillion. Diversify your business.
  • Jason Friesen | 24 Jun 2013, 03:59 PM Agree 0
    Please answer me how as a mortgage broker that clients come to for unbiased advice you could look at someone in the eyes and say "yes it is true that RBC has a rate that is .25% below what I can offer and will save you $5,000 over the life of your mortgage but you signed a clause with me and you have to take the lender's commitment that I gave you"? You are supposed to act in the client's best interests instead of your own. There are often times where I tell clients that they are better off taking what their banks have offered and they thank me for it. In fact I have gotten referrals from people who I have sent back to their banks because they know I am doing the right thing.

    You win some and lose some- suck it up. Change your business practices if you are not happy with the outcome. If you lose 30% of your business you clearly need to tweak the business model you are working with.

    It's funny how many mortgage brokers complained when MCAP had a clause locking clients in for 5 yrs after they signed and how it was the "devil in the details" but now people want to put a clause that locks a client in with them? It is no different in my eyes and frankly is a ridiculous idea to me.

    Do the best job for your client (and not just make it about rate) and your clients will be loyal. Don't do anything different from a bank rep and expect the clients you work with to treat you like you are disposable.
  • John Dearin | 25 Jun 2013, 12:34 PM Agree 0
    In answer to Jason's question, Jason, I have no problem with a client going elsewhere if they have an offer that beats my rate. In my situations, all the bank would do is match my rate. The only reason the banks matched my rate after originally trying to rip their client off by a higher rate was due to my hard work. One would think that one would have a level of self respect that they would recognize this and stay with the broker? Thankfully, this has only happened a handful of times. Most see what the bank tried to do and will stay with me. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that a client would have to pay to stay at a higher rate. That is not the point. If it is, then yes, the broker needs to take a hard look at themselves
  • Paul Mangion | 25 Jun 2013, 12:40 PM Agree 0
    John is correct. If they are only getting a better rate because of our commitment then shouldn't we be given a chance to match it. That doesn't usually happen! What if he runs back to his bank with the new rate and does it again. You would reward that behavior while I would punish it.
  • gerry | 26 Jun 2013, 11:50 AM Agree 0
    I concur with the majority of the comments, whether you are a banker or a broker, it's a competive business we all offer free advice to the client and hope they will stay with us because of the expertise, information, advice we provide and try to develop a trust relationship with the client. That is what keeps the client in most circumstances, if the deal is 'lost' to a bank or from a bank to a broker perhaps you didn't have the client in the first place. Get over it and move on. As far as Black's comment that rates were at one time half to a full point better than the banks through the brokers, they were never that big of a spread and that also disappeared years and years ago. In reality the banks still control over 75% of the mortgage market in Canada and if you think the banks are just going to let the monoline lenders take their business, wake up!
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