Joanna James of Mortgage Ezy discusses the company’s commitment to filling gaps in the Australian housing marketFinding home loan solutions for a diverse group of people – regardless of race, religion or style of living – is at the heart of Mortgage Ezy’s business mantra. Unwilling to pursue a cookie-cutter approach to loans, the company instead strives to embrace a variety of brokers and potential mortgagors who may not meet a bank’s preferred profile.According to Joanna James, general manager at Mortgage Ezy, the egalitarian nature of Australian society has created a long-standing goal for most Australians to be able to buy and eventually own their own home outright.“If we move to a situation where all borrowers are not able to access finance and it is simply provided to the elite, the Australian dream will be shattered,” says James. “This will create a class of renters for life, which I don’t think anyone wants to aspire to.”James believes that renting up until retirement age would be a major disadvantage for the individual, as rents tend to increase year-on-year. By contrast, mortgage rates are comparatively stable and should only reflect interest rates of the day.
“The biggest gap in the market comes when borrowers whose first language isn’t English are unable to communicate their needs and wants” Joanna James, Mortgage Ezy
It’s an approach to homeownership that’s reflected in the company’s loaning philosophy, for both existing citizens and new Australians. Though there has been a broader trend of banks avoiding issuing loans to non-residents, alt-doc borrowers and self-managed super clients, Mortgage Ezy has continued lending to this class of borrowers. So much so, James notes, that those who are self-employed can also qualify for low-prime rates, putting down as little as a 20% deposit on a home loan.
“Australia’s greatness has been based on its immigrants,” says James. “Contrary to some people’s beliefs, immigrants support the general overall economy and often start up small businesses that create more job opportunities for Australians.”
James is quick to point out that non-residents frequently buy property prior to moving to Australia, or to provide their children with a home when they attend university. Others who purchase investment properties offer much-needed stock for permanent rentals.
“As the Foreign Investment Review Board prevents non-residents from buying established properties, the impact on the current housing market is minimal,” says James. “Non-residents provide valuable stimulus to the construction industry instead.”
Mortgage Ezy has also taken great strides towards providing discounted rates to all clientele regardless of their situation.
“People don’t need to request a large loan or be in the top income bracket to receive a rate cut.”
As an added bonus, borrowers are also excused from paying a monthly or annual fee on the life of their loan. Loan fees, James notes, are a major bugbear for modern borrowers. When they were first implemented just over 20 years ago, they averaged around $2/month. By contrast, today many sit at around $30/month, amounting to hundreds of dollars a year.
“The longer the loan runs, the greater the percentage of the loan cost the fees end up accounting for,” says James. “So a fee-free loan is a huge advantage for borrowers seeking security for the actual cost of finance.”
“Australia’s greatness has been based on its immigrants. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, immigrants support the general overall economy” Joanna James, Mortgage Ezy
According to James, the key to helping a diverse range of borrowers is to be understanding and open to differences that are important to them. It’s not just a diverse customer base that is at the heart of Mortgage Ezy’s operations; the company also promotes inclusion within its workforce in order to elevate its services when catering to people from different backgrounds.
“As far as possible, one’s workforce should reflect cultural differences and the tolerance needed to respectfully deal with each and every Australian,” she says. “We have several programs that cater to different communities – these range from sharia loans right through to non-resident loans.”
James notes that a number of Mortgage Ezy staff can speak Mandarin, Indonesian and Vietnamese, among other languages. It’s something she sees as vital for the present and future success of the organisation.
“The biggest gap in the market comes when borrowers whose first language isn’t English are unable to communicate their needs and wants,” says James.
While Mortgage Ezy’s credentials in the Asian community have long been established among customers and brokers alike, James hopes to attract brokers who are exploring other niches that the banks do not cater to.
“We must remember especially as we move further into the age of technological innovation that we are in the business of serving people,” says James. “At Mortgage Ezy, we strive to promote a culture that embodies the very essence of this, creating diverse and inclusive solutions for all of our team and the people that we serve.”