Conrad Neufeldt likens shopping for a mortgage to taking a multiple-choice test back in school.
“We were given five answers, all of which were right, but one was ‘more right’ than the other four; mortgages are a lot like that,” he says. “It’s really easy to have a right answer — or at least feel like you have a right answer — but you need a whole lot more knowledge in order to successfully find the ‘best’ answer.”
Imparting that knowledge to not just his clients but the broader Canadian mortgage-shopping public is a key goal for Neufeldt, who offers free educational content across a range of social media platforms, including nearly 100 educational videos posted to YouTube.
“There’s just not enough financial education in Canada, so I use this opportunity as an educational experience,” he said. “By the time they turn the key and step foot inside their home as new homeowners, I want them to suffer from the delusion that they know enough about mortgages that they feel they can do my job.”
Ironically, that is precisely how Neufeldt ended up in the mortgage business in the first place.
One step back, two steps forward
After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 2010, Neufeldt said he sought out the highest paying job he could find. “I found my way into being a brick salesman, which is as exciting and sexy as it sounds,” he said.
Three years later, Neufeldt said he was earning a six-figure salary and receiving dozens of competitive job offers, but found himself seeking something a little more exciting than climbing another corporate ladder. Around that time, he was also shopping for a new home.
“My mortgage broker at the time was like, ‘you’d be really good at this, you should become a mortgage broker,’ and so I did,” he said. “I left a six-figure salary job, and in my first year made $18,000.”
Finding the most-right answer
Neufeldt now laughs at his naivete at the time, acknowledging that he — like many — initially failed to grasp the complexity of the mortgage industry, and went in assuming it was as simple as comparing interest rates.
“What rate doesn’t tell you is if there’s an unnecessary collateral charge, how penalties are calculated, it doesn’t tell you if there’s a modified sales clause, portability, assumably, what the prepayment options are, and so on,” he says. “A low rate is just a low rate; you need to understand the trade-offs to make an accurate decision.”
Or, in other words, find the “most-right” answer among a field of other, technically right options.
“This industry is so fast paced, and things change so often,” Neufeldt said. “If you’re not constantly learning, you become stale-dated faster than a letter of employment. That’s a joke for the underwriters.”
Why Manulife One is “worth the learn”
Of all the potential solutions, Neufeldt said none are more complicated, or require more education, than Manulife One. Taking the time to learn about the product, however, is key to finding the most-right answer for clients.
“It’s worth the learn because it has a ton of versatility for so many client situations that, when done correctly, it can solve a lot of problems,” he said. “That’s ultimately what we’re called to be as mortgage brokers, problem solvers.”
Neufeldt said he and his team invested in that education for themselves in 2019. At the time, he said the product was positioned to attract high-net worth individuals, but through that education process discovered it could be of benefit to those of all income levels.
“We actually linked up with them because of their ability to take some of the down payment grants for lower income people that other lenders at the time weren’t accepting,” he said. “They were willing to look beyond the normal scope that most lenders looked at, and they were able to approve some people and get them into homes that may have otherwise been stuck in the rent cycle forever.”
Accessing home equity when you need it most
Over time, Neufeldt discovered the flexibility offered by Manulife One was also a perfect solution to those looking to use home equity to grow their real estate portfolio, middle class homeowners who wanted to maintain an emergency fund, and many more.
Then the pandemic hit, and Neufeldt says he began having difficult conversations with clients who had lost their jobs or suddenly found themselves in a more precarious financial situation.
“For those that were fortunate to have been in the Manulife One, they had a home equity line of credit to fall back on,” he said. “They got access to the equity in their home to pay for their groceries and do whatever they needed to do to get through that tough time.”
Neufeldt says that the time and effort he invested in understanding the product has helped countless clients and online subscribers make the best decision for themselves, which he says is enough of a reward in and of itself, though it does also help generate leads.
“I don’t do great on a mortgage because I know I’ll get referrals,” he said. “I want to do the best that I can, and the reason why I get referred so religiously is because I am great at what I do, and I take the time to educate clients; the referrals are just a side bonus.”