National real estate group moves into mortgage broking

Professionals has launched a finance business after research found that more than half of its clients would consider using an in-house broker.

The new business, Professionals Global Finance, will be a national version of Professionals Finance WA, which has operated since 2002.

Managing director Rob Rooke told Real Estate Business that Professionals Global Finance currently has 10 brokers, all of whom are based in Western Australia.

Mr Rooke said the brokerage would be represented in all states and territories by the end of 2015 and would have about 150 loan writers by 2020.

Professionals has 300 real estate offices across Australia, which is what’s driving the ambitious growth target, he said.

The plan is to initially target Sydney, Melbourne, south-east Queensland, northern NSW and larger regional areas.

“The opportunity within these branded real estate groups is significant and I think it’s a bit of a sleeping giant,” Mr Rooke said.

“We conducted customer research with 2,000 people, which showed 55 per cent of our real estate clients would consider arranging finance through a broker in which Professionals held equity.”

Mr Rooke said Professionals agents would be offered the chance to buy a stake in the finance business and would be able to engage with brokers on their own terms.

“Where there’s a very large Professionals presence, and if that agency permits, we’ll be sharing office space, there’s no question about that,” he said.

“But there are some smaller offices that don’t have the space or volume, so those people will be serviced in a different way.”

Mr Rooke told Real Estate Business that there was no reason why the same company couldn’t deal with both the buyers and sellers in a property transaction.

“It’s only a conflict in some people’s minds. Legally, it’s not. Full disclosure is always an issue. We have to have very high levels of disclosure,” he said.

“Our survey with our customers shows that they’re quite happy to accept approaches from finance brokers.”

Professionals Global Finance is currently hunting for an east coast-based chief executive, who is expected to be appointed by the end of the month.

Hockingstuart announced in December that it planned to open a brokerage in 2015, while last month McGrath Estate Agents revealed long-term expansion plans for its own broking business.

[Related: Professionals searches for first-ever chief executive]

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