Century 21 Home Loans
Sydney, NSW
Aggregator: AFG
Total value of residential loans FY2016/17: $172,686,689
Total number of residential loans FY2016/17: 206

At first glance, not much has changed for Peter Ellis. He’s in the same position as in 2016 – 5th place – having written just $70,000 more over the intervening 12 months. Ellis is still based in Sydney’s CBD, running his twin businesses, Ellis Financial and the Century 21 broking franchise, and utilising an extensive referral network of real estate agents.

Yet to assume that Ellis has remained entirely untouched by the winds of change sweeping through the industry would be very wrong. “The investor market has been hit pretty hard by APRA changes and restrictions on the lenders,” Ellis explains. “That’s been pretty tough, but having said that, we’ve written a lot of investor loans.”

His response has been to focus on refinancing existing clients, particularly in 2017 as APRA, ASIC and the lenders have looked to reduce interest-only borrowing. This has contrasted with sharply priced offers for the groups that the banks do want to target, Ellis explains. “There have been some really good offers for owner-occupier [principal and interest] from some of the smaller lenders.”

Getting his clients on to these P&I sub-4% products is the new mission for Ellis and his team, who are analysing the rates paid by the clients on their database and proactively getting in contact. While it is still possible to find cheaper interest-only rates, these are “not much cheaper, because they’re not the flavour of the month with lenders because of all the APRA changes”. Impressively, refinancing now makes up a larger part of their business than new purchases.

Ellis has made another shift over the past year, this one geographical. Previously focused on Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, “a lot of my business now is coming from the Hills District, and the loan sizes out there were previously lower; now they’ve started to increase. It’s probably changed the dynamic of our business.”

While he sees regulation getting tougher over the coming year, Ellis is focused on expansion: “I want the business to be writing more, because we’ve put on four new brokers this year and next year we hope to put on up to 10.”