By Dustan Woodhouse, Special to CMT

Regulators have made several changes to the mortgage market each year since the 2008 financial crisis. The most recent changes are the most disruptive—to the industry, to clients who seek competitive low rates and to mortgage insurance premiums.

Ironically, the moves have resulted in increased rates and insurance premiums for better-qualified applicants. Yes, you read that correctly, you now pay higher rates and/or higher premiums for being a higher-calibre less-risky borrower. But that’s a separate story for a different day.

While many of Ottawa’s changes have strengthened the overall foundation of the financial system (should any shocks to the system arise), the litany of rules appear to have done little to rein in the price increases in Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver.

This is by design, they say. The federal government is less concerned about controlling prices (a good thing) in a few specific markets as they are about ensuring the overall stability of the national economy.

Housing Warfare 

We are now entering the third consecutive spring market with subject-free offers and bidding wars. It’s already taking place in the two hottest markets, and even in previously docile markets like Ottawa. It’s also happening in smaller communities as far as 100km away from Toronto and 30km from Vancouver.

Clearly something needs to change to address these valuation spikes.

And so the question of the day, or perhaps the question of the year, is: Why do we continue to allow subject-free offers?

Self-Fuelling Phenomenon

Allowing buyers to write condition-free offers on an aging housing stock is risky on its own. But when people start using this as a tool to compete for homes, it allows them to buy into a pressurized situation and overpay “in the heat of the moment.” That inflated price is then used to justify similar overnight jumps (sometimes 10% or more) in the surrounding area.

Last spring I personally watched units in one particular building increase 20% in the span of 30 days. People felt their offers simply had to match the previous high-water mark set by people who often over-bid.

And then came the multiple sales, all triggered by one pressured buyer that bid far too high. These become “comparables” and, in the case of an appraisal, wind up supporting each other.

Legislating a mandatory cooling-off period can be done

In new construction sales, a mandatory rescission period of seven days exists in most provinces.

In other words, the one property—a new build—that is least likely to have significant issues is the one property you cannot write an offer on without having sufficient time for due diligence (arranging an appraisal, inspection and satisfactory financing).

Regulators have done a wonderful job protecting consumers from unwittingly walking into a new project sales centre and entering into a binding contract without an opportunity for outside consultation.

On the flip side, one could argue that regulators have done an abysmal job of protecting consumers from entering into a binding contract on a 100-year-old home laden with asbestos/vermiculite, plumbed with lead or poly B piping and wired with knob-and-tube or aluminum. These are all potentially show-stopping red flags for mortgage financing.

We often trust and counsel consumers to make smart choices without the pressure of circumstance or cajoling salespeople. Yet, seemingly just as often, we implement regulations to save people from themselves, suggesting they don’t know any better. So which is it?

The Double Standard

Apparently new property buyers are emotional train-wrecks that need protection from themselves via a rescission period. But buyers of used properties are calm, cool and collected market experts with finance degrees and construction experience?

I think most buyers know which category they fall into, especially the first time around. So why is there not equal protection for both groups of buyers?

Regulators need greater policy alignment here. The implementation of a mandatory rescission period for all real estate transactions, new or used, should be welcomed by all parties in the process.

Even sellers who benefit from high-pressure bidding wars and unconditional offers should be open to it. They themselves almost instantly step into the losing side of the equation after they sell, when they try to purchase a property themselves.

The implementation of a mandatory rescission period for all real estate transactions would help defuse a meaningful amount of the frenzy, frenzy that is creating markets that economists increasingly deem unsustainable.


A CMP Top 75 Broker for five years running, Dustan Woodhouse of Dominion Lending Centres is author of the book: Be The Better Broker – Volume One. Dustan can be reached at




By Dustan Woodhouse, Special to CMT

New business cards in hand, you sit down at your new desk in the brokerage office. Day one. What now?

Your first three years are going to be hard work. Difficult beyond belief.

The three after that aren’t too bad. You start to find your groove and square away the debts incurred over the first three. You may even treat yourself to a ‘new-to-you’ car and a move up the property ladder.

The three years after that would almost qualify as easy, were it not for market changes, lender policy changes and regulatory changes.

But your immediate concern is the next nine weeks, let alone the next nine years.

In these early days, keep what follows top of mind:

  1. Forget brand building, but know that you are a walking, talking brand.

Should you invest thousands in ‘branding,’ creating a logo, picking colours, fonts, paperstocks, webpage designs, social media campaigns, mailers, etc.?

No. They’ll have little impact.

Brokering is largely a referral-based business. It is a people business. Spend your money and your time on people.

Know that with every step you take, the very shoes you take them in will be viewed in a new light. Are they polished? Are you dressing, speaking and behaving like a professional that can be trusted with a client’s deeply personal information?

Some brokers may want to wear flip flops, drink their face off and gossip up a storm. That’s fine – but they should understand that nobody in the group that sees this will likely trust them with their file.

Do you instead want to suit up, show up, limit yourself to two drinks and talk about issues—not people? Now you’re thinking like a pro. Know that the more often you do this the higher your trust level will be with that crowd and the more business you will do with them. 

Act as if all eyes are on you—always. Because they are.

  1. You’re not in sales, but you are selling something.

You are not selling mortgages. You are providing expert advice on mortgages. And there is a huge difference.

One results in short-term gains and an inevitable early exit from the business. The other in long-term stability, growth and a prosperous career spanning decades.

Take some time and seek out brokers with 10+ years of experience and you’ll figure this out quickly. You are selling not a product, but yourself. Specifically, you are promoting yourself as trustworthy, balanced and knowledgeable. Review #1.

  1. This is not a job, it is a small business…also it’s a job.

The gross commission earned is not your paycheque. It is the gross sales of your small business, and your business has expenses. All viable businesses have expenses. Accept that. And budget like a proper business.

The very first sub-account you need to open on day one is your income tax account. Why? Because the top profession on speed dial with CRA collections is the commissioned sales agent.

Set aside 20% of every paycheque to be safe. You are the boss so you need to manage your own deductions.

But for the overwhelming majority brokering is a job, just a job. You are not building a business that will sell for millions. So be smart with your money, because you’ll need to build your retirement plan from day one. 

  1. Family and Friends matter – just not in the way you expect.

At any given time less than 3% of people in your social circle require your services. In other words if you know 200 people, every two months you might have one that needs the services you provide.

And the kicker is that family and friends are the least likely to work with you due to the highly sensitive nature of the data required.

Would you trust your friends with your credit report, annual income, net worth and debt load?

Would you be embarrassed due to a weak financial picture?

Would you be uncomfortable revealing a strong financial picture?

Accept and embrace that family and friends may find it awkward to work with you. But, they can also be your greatest referral sources and raving fans—so long as you don’t lay a guilt trip on them for keeping their details private.

Take the opposite approach. Be upfront and understand that they may prefer to keep their personal affairs personal. Offer to at least write them a ‘rate-letter’ offering the sharpest rates in the market, which they can use as leverage with their current lender. Give without expecting a return, and you’ll get a greater return than you ever expected.

  1. Attend every single real estate event you can, keeping the above in mind.

Suit up and attend events where you can deepen your market expertise and network. Combine the first four points above to make this fifth point happen with greater effect.

Why do events matter? Because the more you know about this business, and the more exposed you are to people in this business, the more business you’ll do.

Position yourself at real estate events as a learning and listening machine. Asking friendly questions and showing sincere interest in others conveys trust and credibility. Those are keys that open up new relationships…and opportunities for referrals. 


A CMP Top 75 Broker for five years running, Dustan Woodhouse of Dominion Lending Centres is author of the book: Be The Better Broker – Volume One. Dustan can be reached at



By Mike Cameron, Special to CMT

We’re back with Part IV of the Badass Brokering series. The last ingredient in the formula is the simplest, but also the most overlooked: Authenticity.

Simply put, be you. Stay true to who you are.

Authenticity is now a buzz word in many marketing circles, but let’s dig deeper to understand what it really means.


Authenticity: [aw-then-tis-i-tee] The quality of being authentic. Real or genuine. Not copied or false.
When we look at authenticity in the context of brokering, it means: be exactly who you are. True success in this business doesn’t come from emulating someone else’s style or content verbatim. You have to adapt it to your personality.
In order to be effective we must always be congruent with our own styles, values and beliefs. Too often I have seen brokers try to imitate other leading brokers and fail simply because the person they are imitating has a different underlying style.
It’s not that the tactics, tricks or strategies of the successful broker are ineffective. It’s that they’re not delivered in a way that’s consistent with your personality.
I have watched brokers mimic the words of top pros and have them fall flat. Sure, you can pick up an immense amount of information by watching the best of the best, but you have to find a way to make it your own. Customers have a radar for inauthenticity. They sense it in a heartbeat.
I have travelled the country sharing many of my “Best Practices” as a broker. Invariably I get asked the same question: “Why do you go around sharing all of your trade secrets with your competition?”
Well, first off, we as a broker channel have somewhere around 30% market share. It’s pretty clear that brokers are not their own primary competition. 
Secondly, and this is both sad and funny, 90% of you will not do a damn thing with the information I provide you (if you are in the 10%, shoot me a note and prove it). 
The main reason why I have no problem sharing “trade secrets” is that no matter how much of my knowledge you have, no matter what information I give you, you can never be me. The same holds true vice-versa.
Even if I had all of your knowledge, there is no way I could deliver it the same way that you do. Your uniqueness is your competitive advantage. Why would you ever want to give that up and try to be someone you’re not?
“If you are your authentic self you have no competition.” This is one of my favourite concepts. There is no other you. You are 100% unique. The way you approach customers is unique. YOU do not have competition, because no matter how many “secrets” you share, no one can re-create your approach.
Let me tell you about an experience I had a number of years ago. It shows exactly what I’m talking about.
I took my family down to United Cycle, a family-run, Edmonton-based cycle shop for the Kids of Steel triathlon. It turned out that Paula Findlay, the #1 ranked women’s triathlete, was going to be signing autographs and greet the kids after she did a short talk.
In the meantime, my eight-year-old daughter Mikaela decided to go and browse the swim shorts. In the women’s clothing section we were greeted by an enthusiastic young lady who asked if she could help. I explained why we were in the store and she put on a huge smile, kneeled down and asked my daughter in the most engaging voice possible, “Are you running the triathlon this weekend?” Mikaela answered, “Why yes, yes I am!” with a proud smile.
The young sales agent gushed all over her about how great that was. My daughter felt like a million bucks!
I then told the sales rep that we were thinking about heading back to the meeting room for Paula Findlay’s autograph. She stopped dead, looked me in the eye and said, “Paula Findlay is here? Shut UP!”
I smiled and said, “Yeah, she’s up in the briefing room right now.”
“Shut UP!” she said again, so I did.
She then asked, “Can you show me where the briefing room is? I would love to meet Paula.” She was so enthusiastic and passionate about the sport that it was contagious, and my daughter caught all of her spirit. This salesperson’s positivity was so infectious, in fact, that I spent $500+ in her store that day, despite having no intention of dropping a dime.
Now, I ask you. Does United Cycle have competition with a salesperson like that?
No way. I don’t care if there was a shop next door with the same products at 25% off. I’m buying from her because of who she is. Simple as that.
Of all the techniques and strategies I have shared in my writing and speaking, authenticity is the most vital. I have watched BDMs come and go over the years, following in the footsteps of their predecessors. Some try to mimic the unique style of the one that came before them, only to fall short of the mark.
It’s only when you can deliver your message, your product or service, in a manner congruent to your own disposition, that people deem you genuine and want to do business with you.
I received a wonderful testimonial after one of my presentations this year. I’ll paraphrase it here:
“In 25 years of sales I have heard many a speaker talk about the importance of scripting responses. For years I have tried to deliver scripts that others had written for general consumption, only to fail. I was told bluntly by one honest prospect that I ‘sounded phony.’ When I confessed that I was using a line from a sales manual, when I went on to honestly and professionally answer his concern in my own words, it was then that he decided to trust me.”
For this individual, the gold in my presentation was the part that gave him permission to simply be himself. He had all the scripts and tools at his disposal. What he was lacking was the motivation to deliver those scripts and tools in Tom’s authentic voice.
So if you need reassurance to do the same, trust in what I say. Let this article be your resounding permission to take the tools and techniques we’ve discussed and confidently deliver them to clients as only you can.
We’ve covered numerous tips in the four segments of this series. To recap the big ones:
  1. Understand that the greatest thing we sell is trust.
  2. List the objections you run into regularly and develop questions to lead your prospects to the answers.
  3. Create a list of points you need to make and objections you encounter and build a repertoire of stories around them.
  4. Simply be you.
You’ll be astounded by the results.
Now go out there, find your talent, be badass and make beautiful $#!% happen!

Michael Cameron is CEO of AXIOM Mortgage Partners, a national network of independent mortgage brokerage firms. Mike has been in the mortgage brokerage industry since 1994 and is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. 

You can download Mike’s Badass Brokering workbook here.



By Mike Cameron, Special to CMT

Welcome to Part III of my Badass Brokering series. If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous two articles (here and here), I would encourage you to do so. In this article, we are going to talk about the science and the art of storytelling when it comes to sales.


Since most of us were small children, we have all been captivated by great stories—be them from Dr. Seuss or the brothers Grimm or whomever. It’s no surprise then that we use stories on a daily basis. Whether we are telling tall tales about our weekends to co-workers, or embellishing that last “unbelievable” fishing trip, storytelling is a part of life.

Think for a minute about the last great story you heard or told. How did it make you feel? Did you feel a connection with the storyteller? Did you get engaged and activate your imagination, becoming part of the story yourself? Storytelling is a true art form and, as it turns out, it’s one that we as sales professionals should work hard to master.

Consider the science behind storytelling. Researchers at Princeton University have found that stories can create a coupling of brain activity between the speaker and the listener. They coined the term neuro-coupling to describe it.

In their experiments, the researchers connected MRI machines to both a storyteller and their listening audience. What they discovered was that as the storyteller conveyed their story, the listener’s brain activity—previously disconnected and unaligned—started to mirror that of the story teller.

Uri Hasson, an assistant professor in Princeton’s Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, states, “The stronger the coupling between the speaker and the listener’s brain responses, the better the understanding,” he said. “Sometimes when you speak with someone, you get the feeling that you cannot get through to them, and other times you know that you click. When you really understand each other, your brains become more similar in responses over time.”

Without getting any more technical, the takeaway here is that you can create a stronger emotional connection with your customer by using stories. As sales professionals we can use this to our advantage to convey our message and value proposition.

This is important when trying to build a connection with our customers. It gives us another mechanism to strengthen our bond—e.g, by using stories about past customer experiences with our product or service.

As a sales professional it’s important to have a repertoire of stories related to your product or service to match your customer interaction at any given time. For us as mortgage brokers, this can mean finding stories to illustrate some of the product options available or finding stories to allay your prospect’s concerns over rate, lender selection and so on. 

The “art” aspect of storytelling is incredibly important. We’ve all had to endure stories from friends or co-workers that we wish would end quicker. This is where practice and repetition come in. The more you tell stories and think about your delivery, the better you become at it. Pay attention when you tell your stories. What part of your stories resonate regularly with your audience? What intonation works best? What body language helps? What parts have them nodding off? 

Script both your stories and responses. Hey, I know, this is where I lose most people. Scripts, Mike? Really? Are we back in the 80s sales school?

People seem to have a fundamental resistance when it comes to scripting their sales dialogues. I think we tend to picture some monotonous drone reading slack-faced from a sheet of paper with no emotion whatsoever. This could not be farther from the truth and is certainly not what I am talking about.

Think about it. Who are some of the highest paid people on the planet? Do the names Robert Downey Jr. ($50 million of income in 2015), Robert DeNiro (net worth of $200 million) and Tom Hanks (net worth of $300 million) ring a bell? You know what all of these people have in common? They all make a living reading scripts. Now, obviously when you watch their movies you aren’t thinking of them as scripted. They have rehearsed, practised and perfected the delivery of these scripts over and over again.

The beautiful thing about scripts is that human response is predictable. Think about some of the most popular movies you’ve seen. Take Titanic for example. Do you remember the scene where they are all jumping off the ship and the one guy jumps but ends up going ‘THUNK’ on the propeller? When that happened the entire theatre let out a collective gasp. I can guarantee you that every night that movie plays the reaction at that point of the movie is identical.

So when it comes to telling stories to illustrate points or overcome objections, the same is true. Human response is predictable. Practise your stories, script them, find what generates the reaction you want consistently and rehearse. Hone your art so you can let the science take its course.

By the way, I’ve used the word practise a lot so far and I think it bears repeating. When it comes to any new methodologies for your business I want to encourage you not to ‘try’ them. Instead, shift your vocabulary a little bit and ‘practise’ them. When you ‘try,’ you give yourself opportunity to fail. When you practise you give yourself opportunity to improve. It is a subtle difference in language but a key distinction that will keep you motivated when things don’t go your way.

Let me give you an example of a story that I have used for years to convey the available mortgage options—specifically with respect to term length and the pros and cons of fixed vs. variable rate mortgages.

Many years ago I sat with a couple at their kitchen table and talked mortgages. We talked about options such as fixed rate, variable rate, open, closed, long-term or short-term. The couple was in their early fifties and buying their dream home that they fully expected to retire in. After a short explanation of the different options available, the wife looked at me and said, “What is your 25-year rate?”

I responded with, “Let me explain the difference between term and amortization…”

She stopped me and said, “No, I understand that. What is your 25-year fixed rate mortgage at?”

Well, at that time we did have a lender that offered such a product (I’m sure some of you out there know who I’m talking about.). I told her that the current rate was 6.75%.

“Perfect,” she said, “What would our payment be at that rate?”

I responded and told her what her payment would be. I then went on to explain that a shorter term or even a variable rate might be worth looking at as it could significantly reduce the interest rate. She listened and politely replied, “Mike, I understand all that. No offence but, I never want to have to see you again.”

Well, I wasn’t quite sure how to take that but I understood what she was getting at. For them, it was a comfort thing. She went on to say that they knew they could afford that payment now and they could afford that payment when they retired. “Make it happen,” she said. So I did.

That was the only 25-year product I ever sold in my 20+ years as a mortgage broker. Now, is that a strategy I would recommend for anyone? Not likely. But the story illustrates the decision-making process when looking at fixed vs. variable and longer term vs. shorter term so I use it regularly.

There’s another example I use when talking about how to pay off your mortgage sooner. I co-founded an affordable housing education program back in 2001 and have been telling this particular story since about 2008. During the workshop, one of the points I want to get across is that you should not treat your mortgage like rent. With a bit of effort, you can make a significant dent in paying down your mortgage faster.

I talk about the usual bi-weekly accelerated payments and go on to explain that when I bought my house, I became fanatical about paying it down as quickly as I could. I explain that once we got settled into our routine in the new home I started looking for expenditures I could cut in order to prepay my mortgage. I’d look around the house, see something like our water cooler that we paid $25 per month for, and call the water company and say, “Come get your cooler.”

We also had those ‘free’ movie channels. You know, the ones that are free for the first month and then jump to $25-$50 a month? I called the cable company, cancelled the channels and then bumped up my bi-weekly payments $50 from my newfound savings. These “sacrifices” plus some lump sum pay downs and rate drops allowed us to become mortgage free in 8 years.

Obviously, when telling these stories live, they’re more polished and refined. The net result is, they make a compelling point that people do not forget. I still run into people at the grocery store from time to time who introduce themselves as students from a class years ago. “Hey, you’re that water cooler guy, aren’t you?” Stories that make a connection are not soon forgotten.

I have a variety of stories I use ranging from mortgage payoff, to term length, to rate shoppers. All have been refined over the years to generate the response that I want from my customer. The beauty is that no matter what the issue, objection or illustration I need to make, I can simply pull the appropriate story off the shelf and be ready to go in an instant. This makes for easy explanations on a variety of topics and one that people can relate to, and more importantly, that they will retain.

The takeaway here is to find stories from your personal experiences that relate to your sales process. Keep them authentic. Practise and refine them, building an inventory for all occasions. We all know intuitively that stories make things more interesting, but it is nice to know that there is science to back it up.

So far, we have talked about building trust and two methodologies to do this:

  • Asking questions to promote the right behaviours, and
  • Telling stories to deepen the connection with our clientele.

Join me next time when we talk about how you can eliminate your competition by being uniquely you. That’s Badass Brokering IV: “When you are your authentic self, you have no competition.”



Michael Cameron is CEO of AXIOM Mortgage Partners, a national network of independent mortgage brokerage firms. Mike has been in the mortgage brokerage industry since 1994 and is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.



By Will Dunning, Special to CMT

Time for factsThe bottom line: Statistics Canada’s estimate that Canada lost 31,200 jobs in July is probably wrong. The agency could improve the reliability of its employment numbers by increasing the survey sample sizes, particularly in Toronto and Montreal.


On August 4, we were told that “Canada lost 31,200 jobs in July”. It would be much more accurate to say “Statistics Canada has estimated that Canada lost 31,200 jobs in July”.

This country’s employment data comes from a sample survey, and like others (such as political opinion polls) there is a “margin of error”. The numbers produced by this survey are estimates, they are not reality.

Consider the following:

  • Statistical theory tells us that 5% of the time, the estimate of monthly job growth will be off by “two standard errors” (or more). The standard error for July was 29,000.
  • As a result, while July’s estimate was -31,200, the “true” figure is probably somewhere in the range of minus 91,000 to plus 28,600. 
  • Alternatively, a more simplified way to view this is that “95% of the time the estimates are accurate”. On this basis, we (the public at large, the media, and indeed the vast majority of economists) accept the monthly numbers as objective truth. It is exceptionally rare for economists to publicly state that Canada’s monthly job creation numbers are unbelievable.
  • Statistical theory, however, also tells us that 32% of the time, the estimate will be off by one standard error, or 29,900. In other words, given July’s estimate of -31,200, there is a 68% chance that reality is somewhere in a range from -1,300 to -61,100.  There is also a 32% chance that the reality is either a loss of 61,100 jobs (or worse) or a loss of 1,300 jobs (or better, and possibly an actual gain).

To put this into further perspective, in a healthy economy (in which employment might grow at the same rate as the population), we should currently expect to see job creation at approximately 23,500 per month. If there is a 32% chance that the reported estimate will be off by plus or minus 29,900, there is a big risk that StatsCan’s monthly reports will give us highly misleading pictures. Jobs might, in reality, be created at the healthy rate of 23,500 per month, but one third of the time the estimates will show either job losses or very strong growth.

On this basis, whenever we see surprising numbers on job creation, we should always ask ourselves how much we should trust that data. The July number of -31,200 was indeed surprising, and there are strong clues that this estimate should not be trusted.   


Too Many Surprises in Canada’s Three Biggest Cities

In the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada publishes estimates for Canada, the provinces, and the largest urban centres (Census Metropolitan Areas, or “CMAs”), as well as for various “economic regions”.

The three largest CMAs (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver) account for 36.3% of the population that is covered by the survey.  Therefore, any significant changes in the numbers for these three urban centres have a big influence on the estimates for Canada.

Correspondingly, when there are significant statistical anomalies in their data, they often result in statistical anomalies for all of Canada.

Since the start of 2012, these three CMAs have created jobs at an estimated average rate of 10,800 per month. This is 81% of the estimated rate for all of Canada (13,300 per month). But, as can be seen in Figure 1, the reported data is highly variable from month to month. Many of these estimates are so high or so low that they appear quite unlikely. 

Monthly Job Growth

Figure 2 contrasts the growth estimates for the three large CMAs with the entire country. In this chart there are 55 months of data. Of the 55 estimates for Canada, 17 are surprising: eight are surprisingly high (being above 40,000) and nine are surprisingly low (below less than -15,000). 

All told, 31% of the estimates for Canada are surprising, which is similar—interestingly enough—to the 32% we expect based on statistical theory.

The data in Figure 2 shows that out of the 17 surprising employment numbers in Canada, 10 are associated with unusually large changes in one or more of the three CMAs.  

The most recent example of this was last month. For all of Canada, there was an estimated loss of 31,200 jobs. For the Toronto CMA, there was an estimated loss of 24,300 jobs, which would be a drop of 0.7% in just one month. This is an enormous change for such a short period, and it is not believable.

The previous case where one of the CMAs distorted Canadian data occurred in October 2015. In that instance, StatsCan’s estimate was for a rise of 43,100. Vancouver CMA had a reported gain of 22,800, (1.7% in just one month). Again, this was not believable.

Monthly Job Growth 2

The Implications

If Statistics Canada could reduce the erroneous variations in the employment data for Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, they could improve the data for all of Canada.

The way to reduce the variation is to increase the sample size. As it stands, the sample sizes for the three CMAs are too small. The table below shows that in combination, they account for 12.5% of the national sample (which is about 56,000). Their combined share of the sample is only one-third of their actual proportion of the population (the 36.3% shown in the table below). Moreover, Toronto and Montreal are more “under-represented” than Vancouver, and correspondingly they more frequently distort the national numbers.

It isn’t necessary for each CMA to have a sample share that matches its share of the population – the largest of them can reasonably be under-represented to some extent. The point here is that their under-representation is too severe and this is unnecessarily diminishing the data quality for all of Canada.

Labour Force Survey Stats

Will Dunning Headshot

Will Dunning is the Chief Economist for Mortgage Professionals Canada, as well as operating his own consulting firm, which specializes in analysis of housing and mortgage markets. For Accredited Mortgage Professionals, his presentations on “Analyzing and Understanding Canadian Housing and Mortgage Markets” qualify for 1 CEU credit in the compulsory category.


By Mike Cameron, Special to CMT

Welcome back! Hopefully you had a chance to read Badass Brokering Part I. In this second instalment, we’ll continue the conversation by introducing the first part of our 3-part formula for creating trust:

  1. Ask Questions
  2. Tell Stories
  3. Be Authentic. 

Ask Questions

When it comes to sales there are two main reasons that we want to ask questions;

  1. We need to find out where our customer is in the buying process.
  2. We want to influence a buyer’s behaviour.

So what do I mean when I talk about finding out where our customer is in the buying process? Well, in today’s web-driven world, our customers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. With that in mind, it would be sheer folly for us to assume that clients are starting from scratch when we first meet them.

A perfect example of this happened to me a couple of years ago when I was in the market for a new vehicle. Like most of us, I had a pretty good idea of what class of vehicle (SUV) would serve my purposes. I was looking for something that would carry the family’s bikes around, get me to and from sporting events and with three rows of seating.

As any tech-savvy consumer would do, I went straight online and started researching some of the most popular models. I subscribed to Consumer Reports to find their top SUV recommendations. I ended up settling on a Toyota Highlander, largely because I had owned a Toyota before and was comfortable with the brand. It had 7 seats, ample storage space, and high reliability and safety ratings.

Decision made. That was easy, right?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

You see my current vehicle was on its last legs and we had a family vacation booked in two weeks. I needed a new vehicle, and I needed it now. All we had to do was find a dealership that could get me a Highlander quickly, treat me right and quote a reasonable price. It should have been the easiest car sale ever for the lucky salesperson that had the good fortune of me walking in their showroom.

The Lesson Begins

When I arrived at the first dealership, I lingered around the showroom with my son for a bit. We kicked the tires of a Highlander on the showroom floor and eventually a young sales fellow came over and asked if he could help.

I said, “Yes, I’d like to buy a Highlander.” His eyes lit up and he immediately shifted into sales mode. “OK,” he says, “why don’t we take one out for a test drive?”

I said, “Well, I’m actually in a bit of a hurry. What do you have in stock, and how quick can you get me into one?”

Somewhere along the line, it was clear he had been taught, “Get the customer in the car for a test drive.” He continued to push us to take a test drive and talked about how impressed we’d be.

“OK,” I thought, “I’ll humour him”. So he brought one of the Highlanders around, we hopped in the vehicle, and I took it for a spin. He went on extolling the virtues of its engineering, its “JD Power and Associates number 1 rating…blah, blah, blah.” Clearly he did not recognize that I had already done all of this research and could have pitched the vehicle better than him. 

Eventually we got back to the dealership. Him, excited at the prospect of a sale, and me, utterly exhausted and frustrated over having to listen to his drivel for the last 45 minutes. He did everything in his power to make certain that my Trust Bucket was all but empty. When we walked back into the dealership I just looked at him, thanked him for the test drive and walked out the door.

It took two more dealer visits before we found a salesperson who recognized that we were already 98% sold when we walked through the door. It was only a matter of: treat me right, give me a fair price and we’ve got a deal.

The Brokering Connection

I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to mortgage brokers in my office go on extolling the virtues of working with a mortgage broker without first asking the right questions.

Today’s consumers are far more educated than ever before. While they may not know all the benefits or value of working with a broker, they’re often already sold on using a broker. When that is the case, you’re simply wasting their time (and yours) by elaborating on the benefits of a broker.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes consumers think they understand but don’t really. That’s when you ask the question about where they are in the process.

“Can I tell you about ______, Mr. Prospect? Do you prefer the 30-second version or the three-minute version?”

Ask questions, let the client set the pace and agenda, and always make sure you’re filling that Trust Bucket.

Ten years ago, when your typical consumer approached a salesperson, they may have been anywhere from 0 to 25% sold on a given product or service. Today, when we encounter a customer they’re often more than 75% sold on what it is they want and need. It’s our job to know where the customer is in the buying process. 

Questions FBAs a mortgage broker, you may want to ask questions like:

  • Are you familiar with how mortgage brokers work?
  • Have you spoken to your bank already?
  • Have you identified the mortgage you’re looking for?

Questions can also be key when we want to influence behaviour. This is where the science of neurology comes into play. When I first learned about this stuff I was blown away by the power and possibilities of it all.

I came across Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a research psychiatrist at the UCLA School of Medicine and one of the world’s leading experts in neuroplasticity. Decades ago, he began studying the philosophy of conscious awareness. That’s where the actions of the mind have an effect on the workings of the brain. Jeff’s breakthrough work in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) provided hard evidence that the mind can control the brain’s chemistry.

When we ask questions, we can actually cause the brain to create new neural connections. In doing so, we can start to physiologically change brain patterns.

This, in turn, can affect our own and others’ ways of thinking. So, when we run into behaviors or patterns of thought that we want to influence we have a far greater opportunity to do this by asking questions than we do by stating facts.

When beliefs are firmly held, bombarding people with facts is useless. We all have confirmation bias to a degree. That is, we hear what supports our beliefs and discard the rest. When we’re asked questions, it makes us think and challenges our beliefs. This ultimately allows the brain to open up to accepting new information, information that can actually change the belief.

Telling is not selling

In the mortgage business we run into the same objections, myths and false beliefs time and time again. What if we could design a repertoire of questions to assist us in changing a prospect’s thinking for their benefit (and ours)?

Here are two sample questions you can start with when meeting new clients:

  • How would it affect you if you had to get out of your mortgage for whatever reason and were hit with thousands of dollars in prepayment penalties?
  • After this mortgage closes, would it help if you had someone at your disposal to review your financing needs as they arose?
  • Are you familiar with how broker discounting impacts bank quotes, and how the market functions in the absence of brokers? 

Here are a few for dealing with prospective referral sources:

  • Could it help your clients to have someone in their corner who’s dealt with a myriad of lenders, instead of just one?
  • Would it strengthen your business if your mortgage partner regularly referenced you, keeping you top of mind no matter how long the financing process?
  • Would your sales process be easier if you had regular updates from your client’s mortgage professional?

Did you notice the one about what the market would look like without brokers? We all innately understand that we wouldn’t get the same rate discounts if brokers did not exist. This is a perfect setup for if/when a bank plays the rate matching game.

If only I had a dollar for every time a broker pulled out the old “I have done so much work for you and if you go back to your bank I don’t get paid.”

I hate to be the one to break this to you brokers, but your clients really don’t give a rip whether you get paid or not. What they do care about, however, is how your involvement impacts them.

More relevant positioning might be: “Banks often try to woo customers with rate matches. And if all of our clients went back to the bank to match our rate, we’d be out of business. Interestingly enough, before brokers were a big part of the market, it was a fight for the very best customers to get even a 1/2 percent discount approved at the bank. Can you imagine, if all the brokers go out of business, what kind of rate discounts you receive at renewal?”

The right questions can be a powerful way to address a client’s concerns in a genuine way that doesn’t feel protectionist. Above are a few examples of potential questions and I’m sure you can come up with your own.

My challenge to you this week is to make a list of client objections or thought patterns that you run into on a regular basis and build an inventory of questions related to them. Make a similar list for your interactions with referral source and lender interactions. Then see how implementing this strategy changes the conversation.

I’ll be back later this month with Part 3, “Sell it With a Story.”


Michael Cameron is CEO of AXIOM Mortgage Partners, a national network of independent mortgage brokerage firms. Mike has been in the mortgage brokerage industry since 1994 and is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.



By Mike Cameron, Special to CMT

This article is the first of a four-part series adapted from Mike Cameron’s presentation “Badass Brokering: Proven Keys to Sales Success.” Mike has delivered these talks across the country, including at the Mortgage Professionals Canada regional symposiums. His goal is to introduce you to a framework for creating a sales process specific to your practice and to your unique self.

When I kick off my presentations, I talk about the fact that no matter the profession, no matter the product, as salespeople we all sell the same thing.

I start by asking the audience what they believe is the number one thing we sell. Can you guess the most common answer?

In almost every case, the majority of mortgage brokers consistently believe that the number one thing they sell is themselves. While I don’t totally disagree, it’s never the entire answer I’m looking for.

The very passion of brokers’ response to this question has made me realize how universally this belief is held across our industry, so let’s break it down a bit right here.

“Selling yourself” is somewhat of a catchall phrase. If you believe that the number one thing we sell is ourselves, then how exactly do you do that? It seems to me that if you want to ‘sell’ yourself then a logical place to start would be to promote your expertise.

For instance, we could talk about our education, we could talk about our experience, we could talk about our vast array of knowledge, or even our degree of access to the variety of differing mortgage products. While all of this may be valuable from a consumer’s perspective, the more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve realized that we need to dig a little deeper to find the heart of what consumers want.

Ask yourself this:  “What is it specifically about yourself that you are trying to sell to your customer, keeping in mind that the mortgage transaction is one of the largest purchases they’ll ever make?”

Yes, that’s right; a mortgage is a product that is purchased. The price tag on that product is the interest rate. If our consumer takes 25 years to pay off that mortgage, it will likely be the second most expensive purchase they’ll ever make, apart from the actual home price.

Given all of this, what is it we really need to ‘sell’ to our consumer? What is it that we are trying to convince them of when we promote all of our credentials, our skills, our experience?

The answer I’m always hoping to hear in my presentation is trust.

Trust is the number one thing we all sell regardless of product, service or industry.

We are all trying to convince consumers that we are worthy of their trust. In fact, the number one thing that every salesperson sells is exactly the same.

Not surprisingly, trust is also the primary determinant of whether we:

  • earn their business
  • complete a transaction
  • garner subsequent referrals.

Yes, rate also comes into play to some extent. I mean, let’s face it, regardless of how much we ‘trust’ our grocer, we’re probably not going to fork out three times the going price for a loaf of bread (even if it’s gluten friendly).

That said—all things relatively equal—we’ll usually pay a premium to someone we trust versus someone we don’t, especially on more complex purchases.

By the way, please hold your rate site arguments for another day. We can have that discussion in a later article. I understand that there are some individuals who do not give a rip about trust and are singularly focused on price. Unless price is your game, however, move on and get over it. Find the next prospect who does value the trust bond you work hard to create.

Crank up sales FBWhen it comes to the sales process, there are no neutral interactions with your potential customer. Everything you do with a prospect will either build up trust or deplete it.

This is why it’s so critical to be mindful of every step in our sales process. For every client interaction you make, picture your client carrying a large bucket with the label ‘Trust’ on it. At all times, you are either filling or emptying that bucket. By the end of the transaction we want that Trust bucket to be filled or overflowing.

As salespeople we have a choice. We can either sell by design or we can sell by default. When we sell by design we ensure that every interaction is intentional and cultivates seeds of trust between ourselves and our prospective client. When we sell by default, we end up winging it. Sloppiness sets in and it gets easier to knock over the bucket and spill that precious Trust.

The business of sales is equal parts science and art. Successful salespeople rely on a perfect blend of the two. A structured sales process leverages the psychology (science) of sales to deliver the customer experience that people best respond to. There are reams of research on this. 

Then there’s the art form. Through repetition and practice, we hone our techniques to ensure flawless delivery of that experience.

Now please understand, I am not talking about manipulation, trickery or deceit. As my sales coach would say, “Selling is simply helping people with their buying decisions.” The foregoing assumes that you can deliver the best product for your customer at a reasonable price—not necessarily the lowest price, but certainly a reasonable price. 

In closing, if Trust is the number one thing we sell, then we better know how to build it. To do that I have created a framework to build your sales process on. The mortgage brokering business is not rocket science, nor is the framework. So I hope you’re not disappointed by its simplicity.

Here are my three simple building blocks for creating trust:

  1. Ask Questions
  2. Tell Stories
  3. Be Authentic

That’s it. No magic. No smoke. No mirrors. Just simplicity.

Keep that Trust bucket in mind and stay tuned for the next article in this series, “Badass Brokering Part II: Questions Are The Answer.”


Michael Cameron is CEO of AXIOM Mortgage Partners, a national network of independent mortgage brokerage firms. Mike has been in the mortgage brokerage industry since 1994 and is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.



By Vanessa Chris, Special to CMT

Larock Headshot

When David Larock left a 10-year lending career to start his own brokering business in 2010, he figured his familiarity with underwriting was just what he needed to separate himself from the pack. That, and a passion for writing.

“I can give clients a detailed explanation that helps them understand what a lender is looking for and see deals through the lender’s eyes,” says the TMG / The Mortgage Group agent.

“I worked in finance before lending and have been an investor since I was a kid. So I have an informed view of the global factors affecting mortgage rates. While I don’t claim to know where we’re headed, I can explain why we’re at where we’re at. And that dovetails nicely with my love of writing.”

An Early Mortgage Blogger

Larock writes the weekly Monday Morning Interest Rate Update—a blog he launched in 2011. His posts address everything from shifts in Fed policy to changes in the Chinese economy. Not only do these articles bring him warm client leads, they also strengthen his communications with existing customers.

“If you have a question you’ve been asked a million times—and all mortgage brokers do—you can answer it over and over and over again. Or you can write a blog post about it,” he explains. “If you choose to take some time when the phone isn’t ringing to write out a few clear, concise answers to those common questions—in your own voice—you’re immediately enhancing your credibility.”

Larock employs this tactic himself. When a client or potential client emails him with a commonly-asked question, he offers a quick, 30-second response and links to a blog post for a more in-depth answer. He finds this effective in all sorts of situations, like where he’s supposed to meet with a couple but one member can’t attend the meeting. In these cases, he’ll forward a post that can then be passed on without information getting lost in translation.

“Sometimes the wife will be meeting with me while the husband meets with another mortgage broker,” he says. “In these situations, because I’m answering questions in a clear and concise way, I have a leg up over someone who isn’t.”

Larock also uses writing as a differentiator when touching base with clients—whether he’s sending them important mortgage information to keep in touch or reaching out before their mortgage is up for renewal, he makes sure each email is personalized.

“I have a number of standard emails that I tweak a little bit for each client and, a lot of the time, they write me back. I don’t believe in generic CRM (Customer Relationship Management) emails.”

Setting himself apart

Larock takes differentiation seriously. Everything he does on the mortgage front is aimed at instilling the confidence in clients to choose him over competitors.

“Over the next five years, I think mortgage brokers will grow their market share—but I think there will be fewer brokers doing more work,” he explains. “The days of winning business based on rate are long gone. To make it in this industry, you need to have a really good answer to the question ‘why me?’”

Vanessa Headshot


Vanessa Chris has been a professional writer and B2B content specialist for 13 years. She began covering the Canadian mortgage market as a journalist in 2006. You can reach Vanessa at



Special to CMT, Will Dunning, Economist

Rising house prices FBOnce again we’re hearing chatter about overheated housing markets, and there are calls for new macro-prudential measures to reduce housing activity.

This time is a little bit different, however, as there’s recognition that the heat is localized (Toronto, Vancouver and their surrounding areas). The suggestion is that the measures should be specific to those localities, as it would be unproductive to further impair other markets that are already soft.

What isn’t being said is that the prior measures were effective at reducing demand, but they were counter-productive. Activity was reduced in the weakest market areas but largely unaffected in Vancouver and Toronto (which were the intended targets). This is most notably the case for the changes made in July 2012 (chiefly the elimination of 30-year amortization for insured mortgages). That change continues to weigh on housing markets. In most places, activity is still less than it should be, based on the fundamental factors of job creation, low interest rates and excellent affordability.

In Toronto and Vancouver, the underlying problem has been prolonged insufficiency of supply. Even if demand has been reduced by the July 2012 changes, the volume of activity has been determined not by demand, but by the supply constraint. The real problem in those markets has not been addressed. The consequence is that house prices have continued to increase sharply and, in fact, price growth has accelerated recently.

The expanding influence of foreign buyers

For some time, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has attempted to estimate the extent of foreign buying in segments of Canadian housing markets. Some informed observers have expressed skepticism about the reliability of those estimates, and now the government has asked Statistics Canada to try its hand.

It strikes me as quite unlikely that reliable estimates can be developed on foreign buying within a timeframe that would allow for effective policy responses.

Yet, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence that the role of foreign buyers is very substantial in Vancouver and that the Vancouver housing market is being severely distorted in consequence.

In Toronto we do not have that depth of anecdotal evidence, but recent events have led to suggestions that a similar set of effects may now be developing.

The pair of charts below provides one kind of market evidence, which confirms that some form of distortion is occurring in the Vancouver and Toronto markets. This may be reflective of changing activity by foreign buyers.

The charts compare growth rates in two data sets of house prices: the average prices reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) versus the price changes shown by the Teranet/National Bank house price index.

CREA numbers can be influenced by changes in “composition” in the market, whereas Teranet data is not affected by composition: it’s (in theory) “pure price” changes. Therefore, where there are big differences in the two data series, the most likely cause has been a change in the composition of the market. When CREA data shows larger rises than Teranet, it’s likely that activity has shifted into the higher reaches of the market (and, conversely, there are periods when CREA shows less increase than Teranet, which indicates a downshift in the composition).

For some time, the Vancouver data has shown distinct waves of distortion that most likely have been due to changes in composition. In Toronto, by contrast, for most of this history, there have been smaller differences between the two sets of estimates. But, in Toronto, a large gap has opened during the past year. This tells us that there has been a large shift in composition, with a substantial rise in high-end activity.

A further note on the two charts: In the Vancouver data, the gap has closed in recent months and, for May, the CREA growth rate was lower than the rate from Teranet. Although it’s too soon to say there has been any kind of turning point, this recent situation indicates that activity is not currently shifting upwards. This could be caused by a stabilization of activity by foreign buyers. In Toronto, on the other hand, the gap seems to be growing, showing increased shifting into the upper reaches of the market. This may mean that foreign buyers are currently becoming more active.

In both Vancouver and Toronto, we’re currently seeing extremely high sales levels.  

My interpretation of the data in both markets is that there has been strong locally-generated demand across the spectrum (due to the favourable combination of job creation and affordability). On top of that there is elevated activity within the high-end housing markets in both Toronto and Vancouver. The incremental activity from foreign buyers is increasing total sales activity (and distorting the average price). In these supply-constrained markets this, in turn, is accelerating the rates of actual price growth.

This set of patterns is exactly what we would expect if foreign buying is being added to local demand: wealthy foreign buyers will target prestigious and high-priced locations. The data does not prove that foreign buying is adding to the heat in these two markets, but it’s consistent with the idea.

Vancouver house price chart

Toronto House price chart

Policy Implications

Regarding foreign buyers, there’s no point in waiting for better evidence of their role (and we are unlikely to find better evidence any time soon). Based on the anecdotes in combination with the implications that we can tease out of the data, we should be confident that foreign buying is a major incremental factor that’s resulting in over-heating, certainly in Vancouver for a long time, and possibly now in Toronto.

Based on the anecdotes, we can also be confident that some substantial part of the influx of capital is from buyers who want to hide assets from their own governments. Notably, the influx has coincided with a crackdown on corruption in China, and more recently with attempts by the government to control the exit of capital from China.

Further, we may be able to get useful data on foreign buying from administrative sources (in particular from taxation data or in declarations that buyers must make at the time they make purchases).

In other words, proceeding with reasonable regulatory changes will, in addition to addressing policy needs, also result in data that can be used later to review and fine-tune the policies.

Action or paralysis?

I’m a huge fan of “evidence-based” decision making. But, sometimes we don’t have good data and our only evidence is opinions. This is one of those situations.

The government could quickly create some useful evidence, via a study of international best practices, which could be introduced in Canada within a reasonably short period of time. It should be expected that those policies will evolve over time, as the data that results can be used in analysis.

Does the government really need to hurt Canadian homebuyers?

Regarding current strong demand from Canadian buyers, we have a long-established and reasonable set of criteria for mortgage lending in Canada. We know that, among Canadians who are currently borrowing via mortgages, an enormous majority are able to meet their payment obligations. The Canadian Bankers Association reports an arrears rate of just 0.28% (just one out of every 354 mortgage borrowers). Moreover, as the semi-annual reports from Mortgage Professionals Canada have demonstrated repeatedly, Canadians are highly motivated to repay their mortgages and the majority of mortgages are fully repaid in considerably less time than the original contracted amortization periods.

Changing mortgage lending criteria in response to pressures that are originating outside of the country would unnecessarily punish Canadians who have reasonable expectations of homeownership.

As well, that would unnecessarily impair housing markets in Canada, which would have economic consequences. As noted earlier, a set of changes to mortgage insurance criteria that was imposed in July 2012 significantly impaired housing activity and continues to have costs. There is evidence that the July 2012 change is still causing housing market activity to be somewhat less than it would otherwise be.

Shortly after the July 2012 policy change (in early 2013), job creation weakened in Canada, and since then job growth has been weaker than the rate of population growth. The share of the population that has jobs has fallen during the past three years, which is disappointing. There have been multiple causes of the weaker job creation, but the deliberate impairment of the housing market is one of those causes of economic disappointment. Any new actions that prevent some qualified Canadians from entering homeownership would further impair the Canadian economy.

Employment rate

Will Dunning Headshot

Will Dunning is the Chief Economist for Mortgage Professionals Canada, as well as operating his own consulting firm, which specializes in analysis of housing and mortgage markets. For Accredited Mortgage Professionals, his presentations on “Analyzing and Understanding Canadian Housing and Mortgage Markets” qualify for 1 CEU credit in the compulsory category.



By Vanessa Chris, Special to CMT

Kelli PardoSome believe there are countless attributes that define a top performer in the mortgage industry, but for Kelli Pardo, only a few really matter. The key success ingredient for this Alberta-based Invis agent is establishing an airtight bond with clients, lender partners and referral sources.

Throughout her five years in the mortgage brokering industry—and her previous 10 years with TD Canada Trust—Pardo was diligent at putting the human side of the business first. And that strategy paid off.

“Brokers are a dime a dozen. You have to find a way to differentiate yourself…and, for me, it’s all about developing relationships,” she says. “This business isn’t just about transactions—it’s about taking the time to get to know people, learn about them and find ways you can help them.”

Facetime with Partners

As anyone who’s worked in this industry can attest, developing and fostering truly strong relationships is hard work. To ensure she’s constantly growing her network of satisfied customers and referral sources, she follows some important best practices.

To begin with, Pardo takes time to get out of the office and meet with referral sources, regardless of how busy she is. “In this business, if you’re out of sight you’re out of mind.”

“When things get busy, it’s really easy to get stuck behind your desk,” she says. To avoid that, Pardo relies heavily on her licensed office partner Michelle who does all of her underwriting. “She takes a lot of the paperwork off my desk so I can go out and meet with people.”

Making new connections

In addition to cultivating her existing network, Pardo constantly searches for ways to develop new referral relationships. That’s done, in part, by seeking new connections within her immediate circle of influence.

“Every time a client comes to you, there are two Realtors on that transaction,” she notes. “I always pay attention to who those Realtors are and, if I don’t know them, I use the opportunity to start a conversation.”

A personalized customer experience

Pardo is the antithesis of an online broker. She finds it essential to meet with every client in person. For her, looking people in the eye is the best way to learn about them and their story. That helps her understand and meet the needs of their mortgage requirements better, and ultimately, garner more satisfied referrals.

“Consumers are more educated than they were in the past, but they still need advice,” she says. “I like taking the time to meet my clients, explain how mortgage financing works and help them understand the differences between the various products.”

“A lot of the time, once things are explained to them, clients realize that the lowest-rate product they originally called me about doesn’t actually suit their needs. This is the type of value we…bring to the table.”

Vanessa Headshot


Vanessa Chris has been a professional writer and B2B content specialist for 13 years. She began covering the Canadian mortgage market as a journalist in 2006. You can reach Vanessa at