Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Bank Posts Strong Home Mortgage Growth, Helped by Working with Brokers: National Bank Posts Strong Mortgage Growth

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Bank Posts Strong Home Mortgage Growth, Helped by Working with Brokers: National Bank Posts Strong Mortgage Growth

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - National Bank of Canada has been growing its home mortgages business with the help of more specialists and by working with brokers, but it hasn't lowered its underwriting standards to achieve the growth, the bank said Friday.

Canada's sixth-largest bank said it has increased the number of mortgage development officers doing business with real estate agents and mortgage brokers.

"The good growth we've had is not coming from lower underwriting standards," chief executive Louis Vachon said, a day after National Bank posted a first-quarter profit of $332 million, up from $322 million a year ago.

"It comes from a significant shift that you've seen in Ontario for a while and is now developing in Quebec," Vachon said during a conference call.

Vachon made the comment after an analyst noted the National Bank (TSX:NA) had 13 per cent loan growth in personal lending and mortgages, outpacing the industry.

"We've been a little bit more receptive to mortgage brokers than compared to some of our competitors who have, frankly, been a little bit more ambivalent about doing business with mortgage brokers," Vachon said.

Rejean Levesque, executive vice-president of personal and commercial banking, said while growth was "pretty strong" in mortgages he expects it to slow to the mid-to-single digits in the second and third quarters.

Levesque said that outside Quebec as much as 45 per cent of mortgages come from the brokerage business and the bank is doing a better job of tapping into that.

"We have increased the number of mortgage development officers doing business with real estate agents, but it also came from the broker side of the brokerage business."

Patricia Curadeau-Grou, responsible for the bank's risk management, said the bank has added 60 mortgage specialists and doesn't anticipate any problems going forward with working with mortgage brokers. …

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