By PHILIP CHANDLER
Arrowtown-based Roost Mortgage Brokers has something to crow about.
Despite, or even because of, the difficult year Queenstown’s experienced, the firm’s performed outstandingly at the NZ Mortgage Awards announced recently.
Principal Mark Pullar jointly won‘independent mortgage adviser of the year’ and won ‘regional mortgage adviser of the year’.
His colleague Toby Stanley won excellence awards in both categories.
In the ‘brokerages of the year’ awards, Roost won excellence awards in the ‘mortgage brokerage of the year 1-10 staff’, ‘regional brokerage of the year’ and ‘best customer service’ categories.
Pullar says what’s particularly satisfying is the awards were judged by a panel of peers and industry leaders, and that his whole team also got recognition.
‘‘We see this as a team gong.’’
He believes it won’t have been lost on the judges that his firm’s gone through a year in which Queenstown’s main industry, tourism, has imploded.
‘‘Not only were we 100% focused for two months on supporting our clients during and after lockdowns while keeping our own business afloat, we have really had our work cut out to convince the banks to continue to support our clients’ loan applications despite them being from this location.’’
Though Roost took a ‘‘a major hit’’ over lockdown and subsequent months, Pullar says ‘‘we have seen a good recovery in volumes due to the strength of the market, the increasing number of clients recognising the value in using a broker in such a fraught lending environment, and the quality of our team’’.
However, he says the awards don’t just reflect business volume.
‘‘There is a significant focus on qualitative aspects, such as how leads are generated, customer service and retention, product knowledge and quality of submissions.’’
He’s not surprised Queenstown’s property market’s busy again.
‘‘The quality of what is on offer didn’t change, the cost of funds reduced, the loan to value restrictions (LVR) were lifted and those who have been fortunate enough to have come through the lockdowns unscathed have sought to put their capital to work via property.’’
Low interest rates had also helped.
‘‘We think any increase in rates will be slow, and we think the Reserve Bank will look to employ other levers — such as reimposition of the LVR restrictions — to keep a lid on the market.’’
Pullar says the reduction of interest rates has been key to offsetting the reduction in rentals.
Newer rental properties, he suggests, have still attracted tenants, while older, colder stock that’s been hard to rent ‘‘has freed up opportunities for first-home buyers or investors with the capacity and intention to renovate’’.
And the loss of Airbnb income, he says, shouldn’t affect most mortgage-holders.
‘‘The majority of those owners wouldn’t have been able to have relied on proposed Airbnb income to get those mortgages anyway, so are likely to have been able to soak this up for a period of time and/or pivoted to other income sources such as long-term rental.’’
Surprisingly, Pullar adds, ‘‘we haven’t seen a marked effect on the property prices here in Queenstown’’.
‘‘We are seeing prices at pretty much the same levels as pre-Covid and, in some sectors, higher.’’