Jesse Bobrowski was fated to find his career in an industry he loves. He describes finding private mortgage lending as a “fluke,” but it was a happy accident that is helping him to fulfill his passion for watching dreams become reality for investors, mortgage brokers and consumers alike.
“What I love is helping people,” says Jesse who is now the Vice President of Business Development of Calvert Home Mortgage Investment Corporation (CHMIC). “We solve problems for people so they can reach their financial goals. I am not interested in what I don’t have a passion for and I feel passionately about our business because it is all about growing something special for all stakeholders.”
Like many new business graduates in 2007 he moved to Alberta to take up a finance position in the province’s oil and gas industry. Shortly after the re-location, he happened to attend an event where he met a couple who ran a private mortgage lending firm much like CHMIC and fell in love with the business. Private mortgage lending fills a unique niche in the financial services industry that provides interesting opportunities for investors and consumers alike.
When Jesse talks about helping people, there are two groups his business serves in meeting their financial goals: borrowers, the people who need mortgages whom are not a fit with traditional lenders, and investors who are looking for alternative investment strategies.
Borrowers typically seek out private mortgages because they are looking for unconventional solutions not available through other lending channels. They may need to establish or re-establish a credit history or just because they are entrepreneurs. Alternatively, they may have been self-employed for the long term and their income may be variable, or they may be seeking to consolidate high interest debt to reduce monthly payments and free up income for other needs or projects. Or, as is common among CHMIC’s customers, they might be a real estate investor looking to renovate and flip a property.
Many lenders don’t like the short term loans on real estate and that is where CHMIC is an expert.
“We are certainly a solution-based lender, who is focused on meeting short-term loans,” Jesse explains. We’re very focused on how our clients are going to succeed. As such, we work with our borrowers and their mortgage brokers to figure out a solution that best suits their needs. When we work with flippers who are more seasoned, they know exactly how to present their plans to us. We’re experts in that particular market, we do our own valuations, ensure the project has a strong likelihood of producing profits and focus on the business they’re in. Flippers make money on the purchase by finding undervalued properties and manage to do a little bit of work to turn them around as quickly as possible. We look to accommodate any flipper as long as their property is viable, and we have reason to believe in their ability to get the work done.”
At the moment, the company funds primarily mortgages on residential properties in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and surrounding markets in Alberta. Calvert Home Mortgage is also unique in that they have a fund to lend from, they aren’t a mortgage syndicate that finds multiple investor-lenders to underwrite and lend on a single loan.
The average value of the loans CHMIC makes is approximately $180,000 and the company will lend out around $90 million this year.
Our management are owners of the company and, when you invest, it is alongside us. Every cent we earn goes into the fund and we dividend out our earnings at the end of each year. Investors are attracted to our fund because it’s very transparent and we provide quarterly reports. That said, liquidity of your investment needs to be considered, as the company is private and are not traded on any exchange.
That shared security is reflected in the dual role Jesse plays as VP of Business Development.
“My role is ensuring we have sufficient opportunities to lend our money out and sufficient money to fund those opportunities,” he says. “Meeting the needs of my main clients, our brokers and mortgage clients, and our shareholders, is the reason I embraced the challenges of this industry and my specific role.”
The challenges extend past meeting the needs of two client groups. The compliance and regulatory environment of the private lending industry have inspired Jesse to build on the Bachelor of Commerce he earned at Lakehead University in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He has supplemented his degree with real estate-based courses from the University of Calgary, Securities Designations and Real Estate Appraisal Courses from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.
“I love staying on top of all things that I feel will enable us to succeed,” says the father of two young children. “Continuous learning is very important.”
Kate Baggott's technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review at MIT, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun, and on the Business to Business News Network.
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