Forget the rate wars! says one agent. We’re  now in the middle of an underwriting war, with new channel lenders forcing established players to shorten turnaround times and keep clients from running to the bank.

“You know, clients will always be interested in rates, but what I`m finding is that they are increasingly shopping around and if they’re having to wait too long for an answer from a broker on a commitment, then they have no problems walking into a branch,” Tony Anagnostou, an agent with Dominion Lending Centres Forest City Funding, told “But what I’m also finding is that new lenders like MonCana are really coming forward with answers within hours, and that’s helping them to compete with other lenders, even if the brokerage has a dedicated underwriter.”

It’s one way relatively new lenders to the channel are working to carve out a niche for themselves, outside of rates. They’re competitive there as well, said Anagnostou, based in London, Ont. But with those tight turnarounds, they're giving brokers a reason to establish new lending ties.

Economists are now suggesting this winter’s spate of intense rate competition has come to an end as the big banks move to protect their interest rate spreads in a slowing market. It means broker channel lenders are increasingly looking for ways to up their game, moving beyond rate.

Anagoustou is among the first to suggest that the channel’s newest players are successfully building a name for themselves through their broker-friendly underwriting and dedication to quick responses.

Still, some continue to be challenged by a lack of name recognition among Canadian consumers, although not all.

“MonCana Bank of Canada is a little different in that it’s a bank,” said Anagnostou. “Once the client understands that I haven’t had trouble selling them on the mortgage.”

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