By Neil Sharma
The Vine Group has been the top-producing team in the Mortgage Alliance family for the past two years, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s on pace to set yet another record year.
After doing $400 million in 2017 and $500m last year, Vine Group is on pace for over $600m in 2019, and according to its partners Hugo Dos Reis and David Goncalves, a major reason for the 37-member team’s success is that it draws heavily from the banking world.
“We focus predominantly on bringing over former bankers who don’t just have banking experience but also have bank training,” said Goncalves. “With that they bring their book of business, and one of our value propositions to our agents is that we help them with business development. We’re a company built by agents for agents; Hugo and I are still active and we know what it’s like to transition from banks to the broker market. Our model has been so successful that some of our agents have doubled their volume year-over-year.”
Leaving the banking world for the broker channel affords greater opportunity for agents to find their clients solutions that work better for them, rather than better for the bank. As Goncalves explains it, working with Vine Group’s clients is akin to being their advisors.
“Now more than ever, especially with the stress test and rule changes, we have to be financial advisers to some extent and do a full comprehensive review of a client’s profile and understand what monthly payment we’re looking at and to figure out which features are important to them,” he said. “The reality is clients break their mortgage every 3.5 years, so who cares if you get the lowest rate on the market today if you have to pay a $10,000 penalty a few years later.”
Added Dos Reis: “My prediction was 2018 would be good for business because people would have fewer options at banks. We’ve used all our options in the broker world and had advisory conversations instead of rate conversations. Our jobs have become more relevant than ever and it goes back to brokers adding significantly more value than the old, tired rate conversation.”
The advisory role Vine Group has undertaken runs the gamut of the home purchasing process. For example, every week the team films educational videos for its website featuring everybody from lawyers to accountants and touches on subjects like the first-time homebuyer incentives included in last week’s federal budget to how bond yields affect mortgage rates. As a customer-centric team, Vine invites viewers to submit their questions for which they would like in-depth explanations.
The mortgage landscape has changed drastically over the last couple of years, and according to Dos Reis, where one door partially shuts, another opens wide. The commercial space in Toronto is exploding and Vine Group is at the forefront of this burgeoning market.
“We’ve been educating our residential mortgage agents to look out for commercial opportunities,” said Dos Reis. “We’re seeing more and more opportunities and our commercial business is unique.”