Mortgage brokers and realtors cooperate so frequently that consumers may think they have similar jobs. But it’s rare to find professionals working in the Canadian marketplace who have both their real estate and mortgage origination licenses.
The two designations appear to complement each other. Having both could provide an enticing value-add for home buyers looking for that elusive “one-stop shop”. But dual-license holders in Canada are few and far between.
iSask Mortgage Brokers’ Ryan Mollberg is currently Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s only mortgage broker/realtor. Mollberg has been lending in various capacities since the turn of the century, but it wasn’t until four years ago that he started putting the work in to become a licensed real estate broker. At the time, he wasn’t sure how clients would react to someone holding both designations.
“It was a question I had for myself,” he said. “I was worried how people would perceive it.”
Mollberg’s trepidation was grounded in the fear that having both licenses may be considered a conflict of interest in the same way dual agency is among realtors. But after talking to both governing bodies in Saskatchewan, he received each one’s blessing.
The response from clients, even though Mollberg was slow to advertise his services as a realtor, was overwhelmingly positive. Once he started offering his expanded slate of services to existing clients who expressed a desire to buy or sell, they jumped at the opportunity to work with him in this new capacity.
“I can’t believe how many clients automatically say, ‘Well, yeah. Definitely help me find a house,’” he said.
Mollberg says acquiring a realtor’s license shouldn’t be too intellectually taxing for most mortgage brokers, given the complexity they are used to dealing with. While mentoring with his father, a long-time realtor himself, and digging into the guts of a sale, Mollberg was shocked by how little he had to do.
“‘This is all I have to present? This is all the paperwork? This is ridiculous,’” he remembers telling his dad. “Mortgages are a hell of a lot more complex.”
But the licensing process itself was no joke. Mollberg, who has extensive experience as a real estate investor, said his training was “more than I thought it would be. It’s still a lot to learn.”
Also challenging has been the amount of business Mollberg has had to keep on top of. Because Saskatoon is experiencing the same COVID-19 real estate boom as most other major Canadian cities, he now has to tend to two growing concerns every workday.
“It’s so hard to keep up with,” Mollberg said, adding that he will be bringing on a licensed team member to join his real estate brokerage in January. The hiring of a much-needed full-time assistant is in the cards as well.
One thing helping mitigate the stress is the rapidity with which clients have responded to Mollberg’s expanded toolkit. Because they share their intimate financial histories with their mortgage agents or brokers, Mollberg says clients have already established a high level of trust with them. It makes taking them on as real estate clients that much easier.
“Once a person can trust you with their finances and you already have that relationship established, they don’t even hesitate when you ask to be their realtor,” he said.
A new designation?
SRE Mortgage Alliance, a US-based wholesale lender, sees great value in mortgage professionals getting their real estate licenses. The company is looking to trademark a new professional designation – RPA, or Real Property Advisor – for dual license-holders. It’s an initiative the company has already discussed bringing to Canada.
“At one time you had a stockbroker, now you have a financial advisor. It’s the same thing,” said John G. Stevens, SRE’s chief revenue officer. “People are expecting more out of the individual they come to than they ever have before. They want to have an individual they trust to take them through the entire process.”
Stevens said consumers who use RPAs will wind up paying less in commissions while receiving considerably upgraded service, a combination he feels will result in positive word-of-mouth and, ultimately, greater market share for the RPAs.
“Who doesn’t love bragging about the great deal they just received?” he said.
If the new designation does make its way north, Mollberg’s colleague Chris Kolinski says it will be up to the theoretical RPAs themselves to ensure that the three letters coming after their names gain any traction with clients.
“It’s going to help some people for sure, but not if you’re just putting it in your email signature,” Kolinski says. “I think if you do a good job marketing it, yeah, it gives you another piece of content and authority with your clients.”
Whether he ever refers to himself as an RPA or not isn’t a concern for Mollberg, whose experiment in being a dual licensee has so far generated a single, miniscule regret.
“I wish,” he said, “I did it years ago.”