• 08 Sep 2021
Top broker settles $25 million in loans in one month

Specialist Mortgage director Helen Avis settled more than $25 million in loans in July, as returning expats and those looking to move to lifestyle locations underpinned a record quarterly performance for mortgage brokers across the country.

Ms Avis completed 49 settlements collectively worth $25.03 million over the month, with that total eclipsing the next highest Australia-based Specialist Finance Group broker by more than $5 million.

Specialist Mortgage which operates in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth as well as international cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Dubai and London aggregates to SFG.

The July total adds to a long list of achievements for Ms Avis, including winning St Georges Bank’s Top Flame Broker award in 2013 and 2014, and being named SFG’s International Broker of the year in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Ms Avis said a big proportion of the July loans went to returning expats seeking a home in Australia to ride out the pandemic.

More than 500,000 Australians have returned from international cities since the onset of COVID-19, with that influx a big contributing factor to the meteoric rise in housing values over the past 12 months.

“The market is hugely competitive at the moment, and with the appeal of Australia being a safe haven from COVID-19, I’ve seen high demand for family homes being sought in Queensland and New South Wales,” Ms Avis said.

“Clients are looking at options for where to stay when they make it out of quarantine, and somewhere comfortable that they’ll be in for the future.”

One of those expats was Stewart Duncan, who heralded Ms Avis’ expertise in the complicated process of signing and notarising crucial documents for an offshore client.

“It was all a bit complex for a layman, but Helen navigated everything on my behalf and explained the pros and cons of different scenarios,” Mr Duncan said.

“I felt very comfortable being able to reach out to Helen at any time and get a quick response, especially not being in Australia with time differences and trying to get something in a timely manner.

“Doing business transactions is completely different to finding a house for the family and the support from having someone on the ground was immeasurable.”

Mr Duncan said he was extremely satisfied with the rates and the terms of the loan provided by Ms Avis.

“The process requires somebody familiar with the expatriate financial packages and terms and conditions to be able to explain them to the banks,” he said.

Another happy client was Peter, who recently returned to Australia from Singapore and purchased a family home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and refinanced an investment property.

“We found dealing with Helen and her team a very positive experience,” Peter said.

“From quickly ascertaining our requirements and forwarding a number of attractive options from several lenders, we were able to work with Helen quickly from pre-approval to settlement.”

The strong monthly performance came in an environment of elevated demand for housing finance, with the value of new settlements in the second quarter of the year up 47.25 per cent compared to the same time in 2020.

Data released by the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia showed there was more than $77.75 billion in new lending facilitated by brokers in the three months to the end of June, up $24.95 billion on the previous quarter.

The second quarter performance represented the biggest observed result for a June quarter and was $13.65 billion more than the previous record three month period since the MFAA commissioned CoreLogic to provide the data in 2013.

SMATS Group executive chairman Steve Douglas, who heads up the main holding entity of Specialist Mortgage, said 2021 had been one of the busiest he’d been involved in through his 25-plus years in migration and financial services.

“We are seeing more clients refinancing with these unprecedented low interest rates, and migrants wanting to return back to Australia are re-entering the property market to secure a property for their return,” Mr Douglas said.

“Given the relative safety from COVID-19 in Australia is it any wonder those Aussies living abroad are trying to get back?

“We’re not surprised, it’s certainly been keeping us busy.”