Tune into the latest episode of CMP Talk, as Eric Larocque, chief mortgage operations officer at Community Trust, takes a deep dive into the challenges and noteworthy achievements of the past year’s mortgage market. Looking ahead to 2023, Larocque shares how he sees the market playing out, including trends to look out for. Don’t miss out on expert advice for brokers and the mortgage community.
Narrator: CMP talk. The Canadian Mortgage Professional Podcast. This episode is presented in partnership with Community Trust. In the latest episode of CMP Talk, Eric Larocque, Chief mortgage Operations Officer at Community Trust, joins us to discuss the challenges and noteworthy achievements of the past year's mortgage market and what's in store for 2023.
Fergal: And thanks for joining us on another edition of CMP Talk. I'm Fergal McAlinden, news editor for Canadian Mortgage Professional. And today, we're taking a look back at an eventful last 12 months in the Canadian mortgage industry, as well as looking ahead to what could be in store for this year. It's no secret that rising interest rates on a moderation and purchase activity or two of the biggest stories of last year in the mortgage market. But there were plenty of other trends at play in 2022 and lots for mortgage brokers and agents to keep in mind as they look to the year to come. Joining us today to discuss those trends and some of what his own company has been keeping top of mind for last year. And this one I'm very pleased to welcome Eric Larocque, chief mortgage operations officer at Community Trust. Eric, thanks very much for joining us today. How are things with you?
Eric: Very well, Fergal. Thank you very much and thank you for having me today.
Fergal: So, Eric, just to start off, I mentioned obviously some of the trends that we've seen in the mortgage market so far this year. Could you maybe just give us, first of all, your assessment of the mortgage market, some of the challenges that you identified at the beginning of last year and really how you address those?
Eric: I think if I can summarize the last 12 months, what I would say is Canadians were waiting for the other shoe to drop. They were really challenged with affordability, whether it was a result of higher home values or increase in borrowing costs. And I think Canadians continue to be challenged with affordability, especially moving forward. But that's primarily really been sort of how the market has played out in trying to to match that affordability with the aspirations of Canadians in terms of the homes that they were looking to get into. Some have had to play the the wait and hold card and wait for changes, whether it be in home values or interest rates to be able to enter the market. But I think really what's occurred here is that it's really just created an even bigger gap in terms of whether it be new first time home buyers or others just trying to get into the market. So I think while it started off fairly active again, I think it's taking us a little longer to to see the results of some of the policy changes coming through and having provide opportunities to enter the market.
Fergal: And we know that obviously, despite those challenges, it was a great year for community trust, as has been evidenced through awards one, through CMP and things like that. Were there any really satisfying or noteworthy achievements, Eric, that really stood out for you from 2022.
Eric: What stood out the most to me, Fergal was the way our people really sort of rose to the challenge. I think what's important is we certainly had some tailwinds at the start of the year. We knew we'd be faced with some headwinds coming into the final quarters, but our people really stepped up and they continue to put the needs of our borrowers and our brokers first. We exhausted our efforts in terms of trying to find solutions in the right solutions that would get our borrowers into their homes sooner or get them into their next mortgage sooner. Our team has just been remarkable and in their sort of ongoing pursuit to provide amazing service and really demonstrate that we're here for Canadians. We've seen a shift in our our client profiles, which is telling us that alternative lending is a solution that's really for all, not just a sort of segment of the market, but we're really starting to see the solution approach working for more Canadians than ever before. So again, I think it's a result of our people, of the great relationships they've been able to establish and again, just position how community trusts can empower and enable borrowers to get into the market.
Fergal: Great stuff. And one thing that always strikes me whenever I'm speaking with community trust is the commitment to mortgage brokers. I know that they're always front and center and the company's approach, but with the challenges that we mentioned over the past 12 months, I'm wondering if you could share a little more about how community Trust helped mortgage brokers navigate that climate.
Eric: Yeah, I'd like to start by saying, I mean, we have some of the best partners in the business. We're very fortunate to have formed some some pretty remarkable relationships over the last few years. But those relationships were really sort of come together and put to the test this year. And I'm happy to say that I think we did a really great job in terms of supporting our brokers through the challenges by really just being consistent, being consistent in our offering, unwavering in our dedication to provide superior service. And just again, just being consistent knowing that we're here. We are here to help Canadians. We stand by our commitment to competitive interest rates, great products that will serve this market. So the fact that we've remained consistent, I think has served our brokers well and has allowed us to build more meaningful relationships, certainly over the last 12 months.
Fergal: Okay, fantastic. And you know something that's that's really interesting to me and the conversations I've had with mortgage professionals recently is that technology I mean, it's obviously the past couple of years it's been such an important part of the industry, but they've been saying that it's played an increasingly prominent part this year. I'm just wondering, Eric, for Community Trust in particular, how it utilized technology throughout last year to actually achieve its goals and to push forward?
Eric: Yeah, I think there's certainly many ways in which technology has served, served us, have served our brokers well. But really what it translated into and how we were effectively using it to to meet the needs of our brokers was it helped us and allowed us to increase our speed in decisioning. And we know that speed was something that borrowers really needed in a challenging and very competitive market. It was something that they were looking for, something certainly that our brokers clearly articulated. That was something that they really needed in today's market. We really put our efforts in terms of being able to respond to those needs. And in fact, as you know, in 2022, we were recognized and awarded with a bronze medal in turnaround times, which again, was just affirmation that we were doing the right things and putting the needs of our brokers first.
Fergal: Well, let me change tack a little bit and look ahead to what's in store for the next 12 months. We think it's going to be a really eventful one for the industry, obviously. Is there anything in particular, Eric, that Community Trust is focusing on as it looks ahead to the next 12 months?
Eric: So looking ahead, I think we have. A few different lenses that we are certainly focused on. One is how we continue to support our brokers in terms of making sure that our product offering speaks to the needs of the market. But more importantly, our focus is really on ensuring that our customers are well prepared to to weather what's ahead, whether it be coming up for renewals and helping them manage the increase in payments as a result of the higher interest rates or working with our borrowers mid-term to find solutions to help them through some of the higher interest rate periods and helping them manage through these this next cycle. So whether it's for new borrowers or existing borrowers, making sure we partner with our brokers to provide the best solutions for them in in the in today's market.
Fergal: So obviously we are looking ahead to the market's going to play out in the next 12 months. Eric, I'm just wondering your thoughts on that, on whether you have any advice for brokers or the mortgage industry as a whole as we look ahead to the next 12 months?
Eric: Looking ahead to the next 12 months, I really see a need for us to continue to educate ourselves on whether it be our lender guidelines, policies to really understand how we can serve our customers better, whether it be borrowers looking to get into the market or whether it be existing borrowers looking to refinance or or even just renew at higher interest rates. It's going to be important that we continue to focus on finding solutions that are best suited for these borrowers and really finding out what others are doing or what your lenders are doing for you in terms of supporting you through these these challenging times. My advice would be to continue to seek information, continue to seek education. The entire industry is in this together and there are opportunities to learn from each other. And I think if we if we come through this and understand that we are a community that's here to serve Canadians, leaning on each other and learning from each other will be important as we as we get through these next 12 months.
Fergal: All right. Brilliant. Well, I love the optimism and I think that's a great place to leave things for today. We'll look ahead with some interest for some of the trends that you mentioned, Eric. Really appreciate you coming on, as usual. And I'm sure we'll talk to you plenty throughout 2023.
Eric: Thank you, Fergal. I always appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.
Fergal: That's just about all we have time for here on CMP talk today. Our thanks again to Eric Larocque and Community Trust for joining us. Thanks to you for listening, and we'll see you next time.
Narrator: Thank you for listening to this episode of CMP Talk. For more from Eric and the team at Community Trust, visit them at communitytrust.com.