CMP: What made you first get into the mortgage broker industry?
: I used to be a banker, and when I left CIBC, I started doing business with an accountant who introduced me to a lady called Patricia Giankas, who then introduced me to the mortgage industry.
I didn’t even know the mortgage broker industry existed. That was 15 years ago – and funnily enough, Patricia is now my business partner.
CMP: How would you describe your time in the industry?
: I love what I do. With my accreditation, I can pretty much choose to do anything with my life, and I choose this. I love working in the industry.
CMP: What are your thoughts on the current condition of the Toronto real estate market?
: I don’t believe in a bubble; I think things will level out eventually. Although I understand from what I’ve read that we’d need to have 100-plus homes put on the market in the near future just to level out the supply and demand, which is crazy.
Between the high values of homes and all the new rules within the mortgage industry, I find it virtually impossible for anyone to get into the market who doesn’t own a house, whether they’re first-time buyers or repeat buyers. It’s very tough unless you have someone to help you. Yet, somehow people are doing it – and it’s very surprising to me. This has been another growth year so far for us; we’re up on the first quarter of last year, and last year we went up 32%.
CMP: What do you think about the possibility of a foreign buyer tax in Toronto?
: I don’t have a problem with it; it has slowed down the Vancouver market a little bit. However, I know there are foreign investors in Canada and Toronto, but I don’t think there are as many as some people think.
CMP: What are your thoughts on the tightening of mortgage rules?
: The government is being way too strict. I understand the 25-year amortization, and I have no issue with that, but to qualify homebuyers for 4.64% is ridiculous. If they are taking a five-year fixed mortgage, hopefully at the end of that period, they will have good equity, so if the rates have grown to be unaffordable, they will have choices. They can either sell the home or possibly refinance to make things more reasonable. I think the 4.64% is excessive.
CMP: How much are the rules impacting your business?
: We have been directing business elsewhere if it doesn’t fit into the guidelines of the triple-A side. My monoline lenders are not getting as much as they were, as I have to go either institutionally – to a Big Five bank – or I have to do a B deal. Our B lenders will help us put a deal together; on the A side, it either works or it doesn’t. You have to treat things a little differently nowadays. What was an A deal yesterday might be a B deal today.
CMP: What’s the secret behind your success?
: Perseverance. I truly believe that whatever changes, be it the market or the rules, you have to figure out a way to go with the flow. Change your mindset, and figure out a new way to do business. I’m a hustler, so I’m on the phone and on the road all the time; I try to meet everyone I possibly can to develop business.
As a broker-owner, I have staff, so I try to get out there and bring business in, and I don’t stop. I know that if I don’t do well this month or this year, it’s because I didn’t do something correctly.
CMP: What do you get up to in your spare time?
: It’s all about family. I’m married, and I have a nine-year-old girl and six nieces and nephews, and I’m very close to my sister, brother and my parents.