Dominion Lending Centres Commercial Capital
Years as a commercial broker: 11
Sales volume in 2015: $70 million
Totals deals in 2015: 32
CMP: Is the majority of your business concentrated in Vancouver?
Neil Shopsowitz: It’s really across Canada, but the bulk is in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
CMP: How has business changed in Alberta and Saskatchewan since the oil crash?
NS: In Alberta, it is a lot more challenging to get anything done unless it’s in Calgary or Edmonton. The theme would be similar in Saskatchewan for Regina and Saskatoon. It’s a lot more difficult to get things done.
CMP: Contrary to what is happening in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Vancouver continues to be one of the hottest markets in the world. What challenges does that present?
NS: Probably the biggest challenge on the Lower Mainland is with income or investment properties. Properties sell at such a high multiple of income, so investors cannot necessarily get the loan-to-value they want. Commercial properties are financed by income, so the income of the property has to support the loan. Managing the clients’ expectations is a real challenge.
CMP: Have you always been in the commercial space?
NS: Originally I was a real estate lawyer in Ontario. When I first started as a broker, I did a fair amount of residential but gradually phased out of that. As a residential broker, it’s very competitive. Unless you are very well networked and you have a source to send you a deal, it’s challenging. Also, you are selling an undifferentiated product for the most part. Everybody gets the same rates. Commercial is much different. The nature of the deals and knowing who the right lenders are for certain sales, knowing what you can do on certain properties and certain markets – it requires a lot more skill.
CMP: Has what you do as a commercial broker changed much in your 11 years in the business?
NS: Rules tightened up way more after 2008. There was a period when the commercial side was very quiet, but that also created a lot of opportunities. We had depressed prices and record-low interest rates, which continue to be really low.
CMP: Do you have any expansion plans as you look to 2017?
NS: You always have to market yourself. If you don’t and you get complacent, your business can dry up pretty quickly. You have to be constantly out there. It’s hard to forecast. Any type of deal can come in at any time – you just never know from day to day.