The architect of better broking

As Mortgage Architects’ new president, Dustan Woodhouse has a vision to propel his network to the top of the broker channel

The architect of better broking

Dustan Woodhouse was recently appointed president of Mortgage Architects – and, if his packed workshops are any indication, the broker network couldn’t have made a better choice.

The inception of Woodhouse’s career parallelled that of the Great Recession, when the federal government’s decision to slash amortizations from 40 to 35 years and eliminate zero-down-payment mortgages sent brokers and homebuyers scrambling. Entering the industry amidst rampant acrimony, Woodhouse showed immediate resolve.

“The 40-year amortization was down to 35, which is the equivalent of a 1% interest rate increase overnight,” he recalls. “A whole bunch of people were throwing their hands in the air, saying, ‘It’s all over.’ I put my head down, dialled the phone and found solutions. Like the Frank Sinatra song says, ‘If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.’”

Becoming a better broker
Over the past 12 years, Woodhouse has personally funded 1,695 mortgages worth about $775 million and has been imparting his acumen through a book series and workshops. Be the Better Broker, currently a trilogy with a fourth installment on its way, has catapulted Woodhouse to vaunted status, and his workshops are packed wall-to-wall.

“The three books led to speaking opportunities, but there was no plan,” he says. “I figured I’d write these books on brokering, and people could read them and figure out the basics. Soon after, I got calls to go speak at events, which I enjoyed, but I quickly realized 40 minutes aren’t enough to change hearts and minds, so I started doing six-and-a-half-hour, whole-day workshops and had brokers from all brands attend. In 2018, 1,624 people attended my workshops.”

The first volume of Woodhouse’s book series, subtitled So You Want to be a Broker?, helps brokers determine, among other things, whether they’ve entered the right industry. It also includes practical, applicable lessons for existing brokers. The second volume, Days 1-100 as a New Broker, is replete with scenarios every broker has experienced and serves as a guide to mitigating those trials. The third volume, Nuts & Bolts, is a step-by-step textbook wherein Woodhouse walks brokers through mortgage files.

“I don’t necessarily speak the language of corporate as well as one might expect from a president, but I do speak the language of our 1,377 mortgage agents fluently”

Up next is #ThisIsBrokering, which Woodhouse describes as a long-term survival guide. “It’s a series of 17 short, punchy essays on what I’ve learned about the business,” he says. “The three books are 200,000 words on how to take an application and signing commitment from a client without ever talking about the rate because clients don’t actually care about the rate. They only think they do, and brokers allow them to operate under that delusion because brokers buy into the same delusion that clients only care about rates. Clients care about two things: being approved and how much the payment is going to be.”

“Clients don’t actually care about the rate. They only think they do, and brokers allow them to operate under that delusion because brokers buy into the same delusion”

Corporate moves
Woodhouse’s growing reputation as the industry’s pre-eminent broker led to a conversation with Dominion Lending CentresGary Mauris, who, in no uncertain words, told him how much value he could bring to the larger DLC network, of which Mortgage Architects is a lynchpin. In June, Woodhouse was installed as its president.

“The role of president of the Mortgage Architects network has given me the platform to directly interact with a specific group of brokers, and I absolutely see what the direct results of those interactions are,” he says. “Arguably, I don’t necessarily speak the language of corporate as well as one might expect from a president, but I do speak the language of our 1,377 mortgage agents fluently, having completed 1,695 mortgages myself personally. Really, who better to lead 1,400 brokers than somebody who actually understands what they go through on a daily basis?”

One of Woodhouse’s key visions for Mortgage Architects is a series of quarterly mastermind sessions and workshops for brokers, unlike anything a Canadian mortgage network has offered before.

“Those mastermind sessions are groups of seven brokers sitting down for four hours with me and doing a deep dive into best practices, their biggest challenges and more,” Woodhouse says. “We plan to get together, moving forward, on a quarterly basis, and I’m trying to create as many of those pods in our organization as I can.

“The one thing our network brokers can expect from me,” he adds, “is a complete understanding of what they’re experiencing, as far as the stress and pressure of getting a file across the finish line – and, more than that, understanding that I’m available to them for conversations. They can expect me to do all I can to create an environment where we support and interact with one another on a regular basis. We’ll share our best practices and hone our skills on a regular basis. The number-one thing everybody in this industry who’s been in it for three or four minutes complains about is a lack of training. Our goal with the mastermind session and consistent workshops is to take that complaint and actually address it in a meaningful way.”

In rethinking the way things have been done, Woodhouse acknowledges that the growth he hopes to inculcate in network agents and brokers will come with accountability, which he says won’t always be comfortable. 

“The challenge I want to create is having too much accountability, and I want us to be uncomfortable,” he says. “We all know in this business that if you pick up your telephone and make as little as 10 outbound calls every day, five days a week, you will be successful – how can you not be? Who do I call; when do I call; how do I stay motivated? That’s what we’ll be addressing in our mastermind sessions because we have people in those rooms who are successful and know how to make it work.”