Houses for sale in Ottawa

Being rejected is an all-too-common experience for anyone in the housing market these days.

Prospective homebuyers may not qualify for as much mortgage as they expected or get as much financing from their lender as they hoped for.

And that’s not likely to change anytime soon if current forecasts for Canada’s housing market come to fruition. RBC expects national home prices to fall by 14% by next spring. For borrowers who opted for variable- or adjustable-rate mortgages, rising interest rates are starting to take a toll. And the Bank of Canada has signalled that it’s willing to beat back inflation at all costs, which means more rate hikes are on the horizon.

“There are going to be some really difficult conversations,” Dustan Woodhouse, president of Mortgage Architects, said at Mortgage Professionals Canada’s 2022 National Mortgage Conference in Vancouver on Sunday.

And those conversations won’t just involve clients calling in a panic. Mortgage brokers themselves face rejection in various forms.

How should mortgage brokers build resiliency to rejection? Woodhouse isn’t prescriptive. “My answers are probably not your answers,” he says. After all, Woodhouse points out that he is a 6-foot-2 straight, white man born in Canada to parents who are still together. His experience is certainly not true for everybody. 

Advice for brokers

Instead, Woodhouse suggests brokers ask themselves a variety of personal questions, such as who are you? What problems do you have (“Are you a problem drinker?”), and do they make you less trustworthy? How can you fix these problems?

Trust, a central component of the mortgage business, is—as Woodhouse jokes—not fixed. “Trust is absolutely variable on what you’re doing, what you’re saying, who you’re hanging around with,” he says. 

Woodhouse also suggests mortgage brokers think about exploring these questions with a therapist, whenever that feels comfortable. It may not come immediately. About six years ago, Woodhouse started speaking with a therapist who told him, on his second visit, that he needed to “feel his feelings.” He said he didn’t go back into therapy for another two years after that.

Brokers should also cast a critical eye on their use of social media and ask themselves whether it really serves a purpose in their business, or simply eats up time better spent doing something else. “I don’t think social media brings you that much business,” Woodhouse says. “I think it brings you some recognition. I think it keeps you relevant in the eyes of past clients. I think it’s important to put content out, but be really careful.” 

Then there’s the question of competition. Brokers build their reputations on their sales volumes and rankings. But Woodhouse suggests brokers use sales data in a somewhat different way. He said brokers should know broad figures, like the total number of annual home sales in their province and the percentage of which require financing. 

“What’s your total number of potential annual transactions?” Woodhouse asks. “And how many do you need to survive?” Breaking down seemingly insurmountable sales goals into more palatable numbers can ease the stress of running a mortgage business today, he says.

These questions beget even more questions: What is a broker best at? Do they feel as though they’re positioned as an expert when dealing with clients? Why do people like dealing with a particular broker?

At the end of his presentation, Woodhouse made just one suggestion—framed as a question—to the brokers in the room about becoming more resilient in trying times: “Who can I call to say, I love you, thank you, I miss you?” he asked. All of these ideas can help brokers become a little more resilient during today’s trying times.

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