AFG Mortgage Index – March Quarter 2017

First home buyers step up

AFG (ASX: AFG) has today reported promising signs in the first home buyer (FHB) market as the 17 year old scheme, introduced to offset the effect of the GST on home ownership, receives a shake up.

The national First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) scheme funded by the states and territories has largely been hailed a success as it seeks to ease the hefty upfront costs for new entrants to the market.? The effectiveness of the scheme however has been questioned of late and it appears this may have encouraged governments to act.? “The Victorian state government has recently announced a number of changes to the scheme in that state and New South Wales is currently examining their options to help counter rising house prices in those states,” said AFG Interim CEO David Bailey.

AFG data shows positive signs amongst the FHB market with lodgments lifting back up to 10% for the first time since the first quarter of 2014.

“First home buyer numbers have been in the single digits for some time.? It is good to see state governments looking to support those trying to get a foot on the property ladder.? Time will tell if the proposed changes to the scheme go far enough to assist those looking to buy their first home in our two most populous states.”

APRA-imposed lender policy changes have had an impact on both the investor market and refinancers as many lenders lift interest rates for borrowers.

“Lenders have been told by the regulator to rein in their exposure to the investor market and APRA continues to monitor growth in lending to investors,” said Mr Bailey.? “As a result many lenders have embarked upon a series of rate increases and a tightening of credit policy for investors to comply with APRA’s guidelines.

“This activity has seen investor loans drop from 34% to 32% across the quarter.”

Those looking to refinance have also been impacted, with that segment of the market dropping from 38% to 35% last quarter – its lowest level since the third quarter of 2015.

In overall lodgment numbers, AFG has reported a lift of 8% on Quarter 3 last year driven primarily by increasing activity of upgraders. “With a significant amount of changes being made to the appetites and pricing of lenders, help from a mortgage broker can be vital for consumers trying to navigate the dynamic market that is home lending,” said Mr Bailey.

“A result that should please the regulators is a drop in the loan to value ratio (LVR) in all states apart from South Australia where a marginal increase of 0.4% was evident.? The national LVR is now down to 68.6%, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2013,” he concluded.

Download full report: AFG – Mortgage Index – March 2017

Meet our South Australian team

The world of finance may have traditionally been thought of as a male-dominated industry, but that has clearly been changing in the past few years. A clear example of this is our South Australian team; a small team of three, and an all-female team.

An all-female team not by design, but a team that has come together so well and is kicking goals. We sat them down for a chat to find out what makes them tick and what makes them work so well together.

Meet Debbie Ettridge, Briony Miglis and Lauren Green.

How many people in your office?
There are three of us. We’re the smallest state office AFG has by far but we like to think we punch above our weight, we look after around 200 brokers helping them grow their businesses, now at a combined loan book size of $7 billion.

What do you like about working in an all-woman team, given the traditionally male-dominated industry that is/was finance?
We’ve worked together as a team for nearly three years; we’re all very similar in that we all have a strong desire to win, and we’re all very driven women in our own right. Our egos take second place every time and it’s evident in how we do business. It allows us all to thrive without exception.
We aim high; service is non-negotiable, but we do have down time and we do TAKE the time to celebrate the wins.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages you feel?
There are no downsides whatsoever, it’s not really something we think about, to be honest, it doesn’t even register with us when perhaps it would have 5-10 years ago. There are so many great women working at the helm of very prominent companies on a global level, and here at AFG, we don’t feel that ‘glass ceiling’ at all. If anything, we may have a slightly higher EQ factor, which may be a point of difference; we see this as another tool in our armoury in that we’re able to build really strong relationships at every turn. Our business is 100% relationship driven so that would definitely be one advantage that springs to mind.

Do you think this has helped fuel your brokers’ growth in any way?
Without question. Our team of three has increased our recruitment of new brokers and our existing brokers’ growth year on year since we began. We feel totally empowered to make our own decisions and get the job done the way we see fit, and this is reflective in our business results. One of the most thrilling elements has definitely been the recruitment and growth of young female brokers entering the industry and coming in under the AFG umbrella.

What would you say are the secrets of your success?
We’re all top-notch communicators. We read each other very well, and we have a really strong commitment to our brokers. Nothing is insurmountable and nothing is off the table. If one of our businesses needs our help, we give it. If it’s outside our skill set, we match them up with the perfect person who can help them.
Given we’re a smaller team we’re across all operations of our brokers’ businesses and we’re very connected to the challenges they face and the opportunities right in front of them.

We get it that we need to ‘park our egos’ to integrate effectively. As the saying goes in any team environment we are only as strong as the weakest link. We play to each other’s strengths and when we drop a catch we quickly pick up and keep moving.

We all have a spontaneous sense of humour and we always celebrate our wins with the celebratory glass of bubbles! We also value the support we receive from our life partners and include them regularly for our team catch-ups!

What is it about the mortgage broking game that you enjoy?
The finance industry is an ever-changing one; it’s dynamic, fast-paced and it’s all about finding finance solutions for customers to change their lives in one way, shape or form. Whether it’s funding a house, a business or a dream to travel, the end-game is one that we all get such satisfaction from. The industry has changed so much in recent times, particularly with the opportunities technology has enabled, the buzz factor is still very high on the Richter scale for all of us.

How to ensure your social media is top notch

It’s not a fad, and it’s not a trend. It’s here to stay, and social media is part of our lives, whether we like it or not.

Social media for your business can be as complex as you choose to make it. You could pay thousands of dollars to engage another company to do it for you. You could automate all your posting and set it in advance. Or you could do all the work yourself. Regardless of how much you spend or how often you post, there are few simple guidelines that can help you make the most of your online business presence:

  1. Having an audience does not mean you have a following: Aim to have a high level of engagement with your followers. Generating a proportionally low level of post likes and engagement from a high number of page likes implies that your content is not reaching or engaging much of your audience.
  2. Use images: Ensure that your posts include eye-catching images. When Facebook users are scrolling through their feed, you have a very short amount of time to capture their interest. Images will help with this. There are plenty of free imagery creation sites online. Canva is a very popular one at the moment.
  3. Find your influencers: Are there businesses or celebrities who share your values and/or goals? Sharing content from bigger businesses or pages can help you reach new audiences and also get noticed by other businesses. The more potential referral sources, the better.
  4. Consider structuring your posts in different ways: Linking to a blog post can be done by quoting a fact, posing a question, or listing a benefit. Also, trial images of people, technology, quotes, and testimonials to see what works best for your audience.
  5. Don’t use every post as a sell: Share a mix of informative, interesting, and engaging content on your social media. Try to sell directly once out of every five posts. Be sure to include a call to action in these too.
  6. Be topical: If there is a local, industry or national event that people will be talking about then be sure to include that in the content on your page. Your business is a part of the community?— show your roots.
  7. Engage experts: If you aren’t sure where to begin, or you’re scared of launching your business online, then talk to an expert. There is a range of social media help available, with entry level help starting at approximately $500 per month. Figure out what your time is worth and spend it generating new business and bringing in money while you outsource the level of social media help that works for your business.