Samantha Brookes is literally getting people to tear up their mortgages.
It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme or some kind of lottery. Rather, she is educating people on how to buy a home and get a better mortgage that provides financial flexibility to ensure they can afford to keep it, and benefit from it financially.
And she is helping them tear up their existing mortgages and sign up with new, more personalized mortgages that are quite simply better for them.
“It amazes me how many people come to me because either they can’t obtain a mortgage or because they have been put into a mortgage – and a financial situation – that simply doesn’t make sense,” says Brookes, founder and CEO of Mortgages of Canada, which specializes in customized and hard-to-place “underdog” mortgages.
It is a large part of what as head of one of the fastest-growing full-service mortgage brokerage firms in Canada, Samantha has made her personal mission: to provide every client with the best opportunities and advice on mortgages and investing, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much they do or don’t have.
No stranger to discrimination and unfair circumstances, in particular fraud, where a lost wallet resulted in her ID being forged, her bank accounts drained and her credit rating mangled, Samantha fights to get her clients the absolutely best opportunities – but only if it makes sense for them and if they can handle it financially. Whether first-time home buyers, émigrés looking to purchase a home or condo for the first time, widowers, divorcees, retirees looking to downsize or investors looking to own a second or third home, Samantha treats everyone the same way, working her solid relationships with lending associates and banks to ensure she gets the best-priced, individually-structured mortgage loans for her clients, bar none. It is what has quickly made her the “Mortgage Queen” in Canada.
“So many people think that all they need to do is shop around for the lowest rate, and that’s it,” she says. “And I get it: passion and emotion take over when it comes to buying a home. But the last thing I want for my clients – for anyone – is for them to sign something that puts them in a dangerous financial situation.”
An African-American woman in a white man’s world, Samantha has taken more than her share of lumps in building her business from scratch – skills honed from her previous career as a stunt double, which literally helped her roll with the punches.
“I’ve taken more than my fair share of licks, literally and proverbially. It’s something you get used to, but it also helps you fight even more for what you know is right, especially when it comes to homeowners either being steered in the wrong direction or flat-out getting taken advantage of, for whatever reason. “That’s when I come out kicking.”
Or running, which is her other strong passion.
A graduate of the University of Kansas, Samantha’s interest in running earned her a track scholarship. She remains an avid runner today, which she has channeled into her volunteer work – as assistant coach for the Durham Gazelles Track and Field Club, and a supporter of the “free them” campaign’s Freedom Walk, an annual event to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking in Canada.
To be sure, it’s not only her driving interest and passion in helping her clients in the best possible way that has catapulted her to the top of the mortgage brokerage industry in Canada.
“The difference with me, and with Mortgages of Canada, is that we aren’t just looking to close the deal and move on to the next one. My clients get calls from me three months, six months, three years after they’ve already bought their home and gotten their mortgage – because I want to make sure it is working for them, that they have a plan, and that they are not getting themselves into a negative situation. “Sure, I want to get the best terms and the best rate, but at the end of the day this is about supporting my clients for the long term. That is what differentiates us as firm, and differentiates me as a mortgage broker and advisor.
Note to Americans: Canada is on sale! Buy now! Decline in the “Loonie,” Falling Interest Rates, Spells Big Opportunity for U.S. Buyers
While not quite the tone or verbiage that Samantha Brookes uses when visiting “The Hamptons” on Long Island in New York State or other parts of the U.S., it is the message she is currently trumpeting to U.S. and international real estate buyers of all stripes: Look North.Way North.
“Everything here is at least 30 percent off,” she says. “The Canadian dollar is at pre-recession lows, interest rates in Canada are actually falling and real estate prices compared to other major cities around the world are still competitively valued. It is completely and totally a buyers’ market for anyone from the U.S.”
Indeed, from Toronto, Canada’s largest city, to Vancouver, to Montreal, Halifax, Nova Scotia, or “Hamptons of the North” Muskoka, located just north of Toronto in the stunning Canadian Rockies, there are great deals for those looking to purchase an investment property or vacation home in a location less than an hour’s plane ride from New York, Boston and Chicago.
While Samantha has a particular soft spot for “under-dog” cases and for helping people get a home or refinance in the best possible way, she also has a keen eye for seeing investment opportunity where others necessarily don’t – and helping guide and structure those opportunities and financing in the best possible way.
“Six years ago, when the U.S. real estate market was in the doldrums and the Canadian dollar was on par with the U.S. dollar, I was telling Canadians to buy in Florida, New York, California… The tables have turned: Now is a massive opportunity for U.S. and other non-Canadian investors to buy Canada. It’s on sale!”