For most of us, buying a property is one of the largest purchase decisions made in a lifetime. Whether you are entering, climbing, or scaling down the property ladder, everyone is likely to have one thing in common; the need to finance a portion of this transaction with a loan.
With a deposit, assets, employment, and favourable credit rating, you can own the property of your dreams today. But home loans are complex. With an almost infinite number of options out there, researching the mortgage market is more complicated now then ever.
With everyone from multinationals to credit unions offering mortgage products, finding – let alone securing – the right mortgage can be overwhelming. As banks continue to diminish their in-person service offering, many borrowers are seeking alternate pathways to a mortgage solution, and they are doing so in droves. Recent data from the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia suggest that 69% of new residential home loans were facilitated by a mortgage broker. This staggering volume is indicative of two things; firstly, lending market complexity; and secondly, the value of the brokerage offering.
In the thousands of borrower reviews accessible online, the basis of their value becomes evident. From personable servicing, understanding unique circumstances, and tying in the entire purchase journey, there are many upsides to engaging a broker.
Most significantly, unlike their counterparts, mortgage brokers work for their clients. In doing so they make mortgage recommendations based on client needs, rather than bank or shareholder interest. Importantly, mortgage brokers are there for clients in the long run. From loan health checks to expanding a property portfolio they are a key component of their client’s professional’s services suite. And, in many instances using a mortgage broker is a fee-free service. So, to help you finding a great broker, we’ve provided some helpful hints below.
What makes a great mortgage broker?
Great mortgage brokers are loan sourcing experts, masterminding competitive options on your terms as well as having insights into the subtle differences across lender credit policies. They make the whole process easier and smoother; and can make it more affordable in the long run. Here are some aspects to consider while evaluating your mortgage broker:
- Highly qualified. The best mortgage brokers are equipped with the right credentials. At the very minimum your broker should hold a certificate IV or diploma in Finance and Mortgage Broking. Most importantly, consider a brokerages reputation and past client experiences or reviews. Look for satisfied clients, servicing consistency, along with referrals and recommendation from family, colleagues, or friends.
- Transparent. Brokers earn their income via commissions paid by the bank or lender, not the borrower. These commissions include lump sum payments on settlement, plus monthly trail payments for the loan’s lifetime but it is important to understand that the commissions paid, vary across lenders. This differential in payment amount can result in some brokers favouring a lender that pays them a little more than the others, which may not be in the borrower’s best interest. An unbiased lender and loan recommendation is important, as it ensures the best rates and terms for you. The best brokers offer full transparency, enquire about how the broker themselves are paid as some earn a salary versus a commission so are more inclined to recommend options that are in your best interest.
- Large footprint. In such a complex industry, the depth and breadth of a brokerage matters. This advantage comes from strength in numbers; a greater employee headcount often yields greater talent diversity, boarder market exposure and intel on lenders interest rate discount policies. Importantly, by transacting high volumes with a diverse panel of lenders, larger firms may unlock additional opportunities for borrowers through lender priority service channels. Moreover, should complex lending circumstances require workshopping, these firms leverage varied levels of team experience and expertise.
- Independent & local. While professional connections are important, some run deeper than mere affiliation. It may come as a surprise to know that some firms are wholly or partially owned by real estate agencies. While this has its benefits, the risks tend to outweigh the benefits. Brokers that are closely aligned with or working with real estate agencies can present potential conflicts of interest and may jeopardise confidentiality, skew recommendations, and limit borrowing options. There is no real way to ensure that these mortgage brokers are operating independently of outside influence and the question that is then raised is who best interest are they then working in? The borrower? Or the real estate agent sat at the desk across from the mortgage broker who they rely on for future sourcing of business? Another factor worth considering is a broker from your local area, with such a complex process ahead, the ability to meet and discuss face-to-face can be the difference.
- Industry links. The most reputable mortgage brokers are affiliated with Australia’s leading industry bodies. Membership indicates support of ethical practices and adherence to strict codes of conduct and ethical practices, which benefits end consumers. Check for memberships with the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) or the Finance Broker Association of Australia (FBAA).
The best mortgage brokers in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Located in Allara Street in Canberra City, with over 70 years of collective mortgage broking experience, Clarity Home Loans is Canberra's largest mortgage broker. They’re locally and privately owned by the founder and staff, but, most importantly, unlike many others in the industry, their brokers do not earn commissions. Clarity pays their brokers a base salary and any bonuses they earn are largely based on compliance and customer satisfaction, meaning there is no financial incentive for them to recommend one product over another. With access to a panel of more than 30 lenders, including all the major banks, non-banks and emerging digital lenders, they offer their clients a diverse range of choice.
Clarity Home Loans places a strong emphasis on service. With company standards that ensure their brokers fully explain not only the home loan process, but the entire property transaction from start to finish, this gives buyers the knowledge to understand what is involved from each party at each stage. Clarity has an excellent relationship with all Canberra conveyancers and can guide their clients through everything from applying for any grants or concessions, all the way through to preparing for settlement.
While Clarity's brokers are experienced in all facets of property finance, they are particularly skilled in assisting clients with managing the transition between selling existing properties and buying the next (arguably one of the most confusing property transactions to navigate). Clarity are also well equipped to assist with investment loans, breaking down everything from loan products, interest rates, repayment options and potential tax benefits clearly for their clients. Other specialties including refinancing, debt consolidation and first home buying.
Regularly featured and recognised in the Top 20 Brokerages nationally by industry media and organisations such as Mortgage Professional Australia and The Advisor and boasting the largest volume of 5-star Google Reviews in the region, as well as having helped over 19,000 locals secure home loans since 2006, Clarity Home Loans are the perfect choice for clients navigating the home loan market.
They’ve also received loads of positive online reviews, like this Google review from Adz HB: “…dealing with clarity has been amazing from the start, their attention to detail, communication, high level of industry knowledge and experience stood out at all times.”
Located in Chandler Street, Belconnen and with offices in Goulburn and Wagga. Inland Finance Solutions make it their business to understand your unique situation, supporting you with comprehensive professional advice and down to earth service. Whether it's your first home, new family home or next investment property we are here to support you to navigate these important decisions.
Michael and his team have been helping his clients for over 20 years and has been recognised individually as one of Australia Finance Groups NSW / ACT top finance Brokers. As a business Michael and his team have been awarded one of Australia's most successful regional brokerages by winning the "Better Business Awards, NSW Best Regional Office" in 2018 and being a Finalist of the "Australian Broking Awards" best regional office for three consecutive years.
Previous customer Sally Friend had good things to say about them, commenting “Fantastic! Great help! Michael is top bloke!” in her Facebook review of them.
Based in Forrest (in Canberra Avenue), they’re not limited to home and investment loans—they can also help with vehicle, equipment and personal loans. With access to hundreds of different loans, they can manage the whole process for you, including handling all the negotiations with your chosen lender.
They can show you loans for almost any type of property purchase whether you’re looking to buy, invest, renovate or review your current loan. They’ll do all the paperwork, manage the application process and take it through to approvals and settlement, allowing you to be relatively hands-off. If you’re strapped for time, their brokers can also arrange to meet you at a time and place that suits you to make the process easier.
They’re a great option for first home buyers, happy to explain everything from your borrowing capacity and repayment options, to eligibility and conditions for the first home buyer grant. They’re also able to offer plenty of tips and advice if you’re thinking of building a new house of building a new house or apartment.
Their brokers can explain the various benefits and drawbacks of every type of loan in depth and they take the time to discuss the other fees and costs of buying a property like stamp duty, legal/conveyancing fees, building and pest inspections, lender costs and mortgage insurance.
Rioter Mark_74 also gave them a good rap, commenting "I highly recommend Joel Defazio from Casa mortgage services. He got me a good rate on my home loan in a timely manner and kept me updated at all times".
For helpful financial services related to your property purchase check out our articles on the best the best financial planners, the best tax accountants, and the best conveyancing lawyers in Canberra. If you are considering a commercial purchase be sure to read our article on the best commercial mortgage brokers in the region. And, if you are ready to kick off the property search check out our article on the best real estate agents that Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with mortgage brokers in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the mortgage brokers listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a broker differ from a lender?
As intermediaries between borrowers and lenders, mortgage brokers possess the market knowledge and expertise that allows them to find optimum loan solutions from a variety of lenders. Unlike dealing with a single lender, brokers have access to not only multiple products from multiple lenders, but also insights around the different lending policies across the broad range of lenders, effectively increasing the chances of an approval as well as finding a suitable product for clients. Moreover, mortgage brokers are typically more hands on, navigating the end-to-end process from application to settlement and beyond.
What are the benefits of using a mortgage broker?
Engaging a mortgage broker offers many benefits to borrowers. Access to hefty lending panels opens the door to a broader product range than would otherwise be available via a single lender. They also have access to the differing credit policies across the lending landscape as not every borrower has circumstances that fit with every lender. As lending market specialists, they can also assist borrowers with their unique circumstances through delivering better product options that are personally tailored to client needs. Finally, they offer convenience – whether this be through swift servicing, added support, or flexibility on your terms.
Is using a mortgage broker right for me?
Generally, anyone seeking a new or refinanced home loan can benefit from engaging mortgage broker. They are particularly beneficial for those with limited time or market knowledge, market newcomers, and upgraders seeking avenues for the next purchase. Mortgage brokers can also be useful for buyers with complex applications or financial situations, such as contractors or the self-employed. Importantly, their extensive knowledge of the loans market can deliver competitive loans optimised to individual client needs.
What does it cost to use a mortgage broker?
In many instances using a mortgage broker is a fee-free service. This is because they are often remunerated by the lenders themselves in the form of payments and/or commissions. While this is a highly attractive borrower proposition, always explore how a broker acquires their income. Consider whether they are remunerated by a salary or commission only, and if so, ask how.
What questions should I ask a mortgage broker?
A mortgage is a long-term debt where the smallest of differences can accumulate into a big sum over time. That is why gaining an understanding of loan structure and cost is so important. A meeting with a mortgage broker will help in this understanding, though it does require preparation. Asking questions to find out about the size of their team and collective experience. Enquire about the number of lenders on their panel, and how many they have worked with in recent months. Importantly ask about the remuneration structure with these lenders, and whether brokers operate on a salary or commission. Also get an understanding of how satisfied existing clients are with each lender, and the nature of this relationship long-term. Before choosing a broker, have a read through independent reviews to check on their credibility and previous client satisfaction.