Alex Lavender has only been a mortgage agent for two and a half years, but he’s already surpassed expectations—a trend line slated to continue through this year.
Based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, the 28-year-old began his career in late 2016 and by the end of his first full year had done 40 transactions worth $8 million. A year later, Lavender did 120 transactions worth $24m, for which he won Centum’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
It wasn’t without its snags, though.
“In 2017, I didn’t fund my first mortgage until March, so there was a five month period where I didn’t make a cent and times were tough, but fortunately I stuck with it,” said Lavender. “I had a good mentor in Clinton Wilkins. He’s one of the East Coast’s top producers and a lot of my success is due to having good mentorship and having someone who let me ask questions and was willing to answer them.”
An indomitable work ethic—Lavender sometimes worked 80-hour weeks—and outside-of-the-box thinking helped him turn around what had theretofore been a languid business.
“I started doing what others weren’t doing,” he said. “I did a few deals on Kijiji. I’d put my ads in the ‘Houses, Townhomes for Sale’ section for anyone who had mortgage questions. It was a unique marketing strategy to differentiate myself but the big thing was not giving up and making good relationships.”
Arguably the most sagacious decision Lavender made was finding a niche, and in settling on alternative private business he has tapped into a need that is growing in the Halifax area by the day.
“Alternative lenders take up a lot of business right here in the core of Halifax, and in the rural areas where they don’t go, it’s the private lenders who are big. There are a lot of people who have CRA taxes they’re behind on, or who are self-employed, either newly or who just don’t show enough income.
“I’m finding now, that I’m more established, there’s a lot of existing clients and I’m getting word-of-mouth referrals from them. When you do private and alternative, there’s a large amount of mortgages that come due on their one-year terms, so a lot of business from last year is renewing.”
Additionally, rather than making traditional connections—think realtors and lawyers—Lavender has connected with debt consultants.
“For 2019, I want to get up to 180 mortgages and $36m in volume,” he said. “I’m already up 20% from last year, and these have been the slow months. The upcoming months, the biggest of the year, are just around the corner.”