5 WILLIAM CHEN
Pacific Mortgage Centre,
Total value of residential loans
FY 2014/15: $194,090,607
Total number of residential loans
FY 2014/15: 436
Consistently appearing in the Top 100’s top 10 is a huge ask, but it’s one that William Chen manages, coming fourth last year and eighth the year before. It’s not been so easy this year, he explains: “I took on one more supporting staff member, but at the same time I lost two loan writers last year … it was a tough year for me.”
Chen’s success is in part a reflection of his experience in the industry: “We’ve been in our industry for 13 years, so people know us.” He notes that “90–95% of our leads are customer referrals or existing customers coming back to us. Only 5% are referrals from real estate agents”.
However, his decision to stop marketing altogether this year was also a strategic move: “The majority of people who see adverts and come here are just enquiring; they’re not genuine so they waste a lot of time.”
While many brokers welcome wealthy foreign investors, Chen is concerned about their effect on affordability. As he puts it, “We have a foreign investor invasion onto our soil”. He attributes this to a low Aussie dollar and believes LVRs should be adjusted for non-residents: “We shouldn’t allow foreigners to take on a huge amount of debt: the majority buy a property and then leave it empty, waiting on capital gains. As a local, we aren’t able to do that, because property prices are too high.”
Chen also believes the newly introduced fees on foreign investors – currently $5,000 for properties worth up to $1m – “don’t hurt foreign investors; it’s nothing”. Raising the stamp duty for foreigners to 30%, equalling the level in Hong Kong, would achieve this, he argues.
Chen believes his experience – 13 years in broking and seven years in banking – gives him “a major advantage over the new entrants, firstly because I know bank policy well, even when I’m half asleep … and secondly, I understand the structuring of the loan. New entrants have to concentrate on both these areas. I also live by the motto ‘Understand your product before you understand your customers’.”