4 Sally Kwan

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SALLY KWAN
TMG The Mortgage Group

Persistence and patience are key

Years as a commercial broker: 18
Loans closed in 2014: 13
Location: Vancouver

CMP: How did you become a commercial broker?

I started as a residential broker 23 years ago. It was less complicated – most mortgage brokers enter the business as residential mortgage brokers. As I built up my business, some clients who had invested in residential mortgages began to think about investing in commercial, so they’d come back to me. 

CMP: What’s the secret to building a successful business?

There’s no secret. I think the most important thing is to earn the trust of clients. I spend the time to really understand their needs, both long-term and short-term. Then you work toward their benefit, not just short-term gain for yourself. Clients these days are really smart. If you really work for them, they will appreciate that you’re working for them wholeheartedly. And of course, follow through and keep clients informed all the way. Give them a strategy – kind of a map of the entire process.

CMP: What advice would you give to  brokers who are just entering the commercial space?

Be prepared to work on a file for one or two years before getting paid. For example, I have a client I did a land purchase for. It was over two years before we finished the project development and I got paid. There were many hours of unpaid meetings and extra work helping them to build things up and get prepared before putting together the construction financing. Residential mortgages can be much faster. You do a deal and get paid. Commercial mortgages can drag for one year, two years, three years – and they may or may not come to fruition.

CMP: What’s the most important thing a commercial broker can do to grow his or her business?

I think as a broker, we’re like a bridge between clients and lenders. So as I said before, understand the client’s needs – long- term and short-term – so you don’t waste the client’s time or the lender’s time. Find a good match, and over time you’ll establish trust with lenders and clients. Then the rest will come. And be honest – for instance, I have a client who bought a multifamily building for $10 million. It’s quite old, and the income is OK, but you have to tell them that over time, they may have to put in more money to fix it. We told them right away, because it’s an older building, you may be looking at putting in extra money for maintenance. The client agreed, and he understood and appreciated it.       
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