Gord Ross, president of the Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association (AMBA), breaks down the Alberta mortgage market, industry trends and the ongoing impacts of the stress test.

CREB®Now: How would you describe the current state of the mortgage market in Alberta?

Ross: This is a personal opinion, but I feel like we are now on the rise. Things are getting better. I think because of the change in the political landscape, at least from a provincial standpoint, consumer behaviour has improved a little and people are interested in buying houses again. So we’re starting to see a little more activity in the market again.

CREB®Now: What trends are you seeing across the industry?

Ross: In terms of actually putting a mortgage together, and this is sort of coming internally from a lot of our agents, nothing is easy anymore. There seems to be a lot more hair on every deal and it’s harder to put a deal together, which is actually a pitch to say that there’s never been a time when it has been more important to actually work with a mortgage professional who knows how to package a deal properly, knows all the loopholes and knows how to get you an approval in the most optimal way possible.

“My generation, we used to be blindly loyal to the big five – to brands – and when you needed a mortgage, you just went to your bank. Today, there are so many more options and opportunities to get financing.”

CREB®Now: What impact has the mortgage stress test had on the market?

Ross: It has definitely had a negative effect. The mortgage stress test was designed to slow the Canadian mortgage market and it absolutely did that. In fact, I think it did it too well and most of the stakeholders would agree, both at the government level and within the industry. I think it’s definitely time, and this is sort of a generally accepted opinion across the board, to amend the stress test.

CREB®Now: Are more homebuyers seeking alternatives to banks when choosing a lender for their mortgage?

Ross: Call it Millennials or otherwise, we are now an Internet-savvy generation. My generation, we used to be blindly loyal to the big five – to brands – and when you needed a mortgage, you just went to your bank. Today, there are so many more options and opportunities to get financing.

CREB®Now: If I’m a first-time homebuyer, what advice would you give me for finding a mortgage?

Ross: The first thing you want to do, absolutely and positively, is go and get pre-approved. Know how much you can afford and get pre-qualified for that loan. You don’t want to go out into the market and fall in love with a house you can’t afford. That’s part and parcel with working with a professional.

CREB®Now: What can you tell me about the association?

Ross: Really, AMBA exists to unite mortgage brokers across Alberta and to ultimately share best practices, which translates into doing what’s best for the consumer.