May 10 | 2017

How to Respond to the Transitioning Real Estate Industry

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How to respond to the real estate industryDeath and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin, were the only certainties in this world. For all his wit and wisdom, he missed one obvious thing – change.

As pioneers of the title insurance industry in Canada, FCT constantly responds to change with its own innovation. This ability to adapt is even more important in the current real estate market. New regulations are in effect that are throwing the market into chaos. That’s what this blog post will address – how to respond to change and chaos.

For the past year, we have interacted with some of the most compelling personalities in Canadian financial services. We went deep with ‎Fisgard Capital’s Hali Strundlund-Noble, our former president, Pat Chetcuti, Dominion Lending Centres’ Jay Seabrook and Paradigm’s Kathy Gregory—original minds all— and we like to think we got gold. Most of all, we discovered some remarkable commonalities.

Reflecting upon the shared intuitions from our trailblazers, this is what we learned:

1) It is important to stay resilient and responsive to ensure we can deal with business threats.

2) Intuition plays a key role in decision making – where intuition relies on and emotions and expertise-based analysis of data.

3) The benefits of adopting a startup strategy – rapid response, great team chemistry and staff retention.

That’s not all. Researchers have confirmed “that the more unstable an organization’s environment is, executives reported the reliance on their intuition, and their organizations’ performance was better than the industry average when they did so.”

Takeaway? Chaos is good. Instability inspires creativity and entrepreneurial behaviour. And, recognizing a good decision right now is better than a perfect decision next week. This is good because odds are we’re going to see more chaos this year—not necessarily more than usual but almost certainly in new forms.

So: the Canadian mortgage industry has cracks all over it—our trailblazers shared this truth time and time again.

Why? There are deficits in client education, in process innovation, and in responding to regulatory change. There are gaps when reading the fog that lies ahead. Or when there’s technological disruption that drives big banks into agile best practices. In addition, there is more potential disruption with upcoming regulatory changes, FinTech, blockchain, peer-to-peer lending among a myriad of allegiances for financial service businesses to navigate.

What’s going on in the industry?

  • Increased CMHC mortgage loan insurance premiums
  • More rigorous stress tests for property buyers
  • Capital gains reporting changes
  • Portfolio insurance changes
  • Tax on foreign buyers
  • Expanding rent control, and more


How will this play out? 

From broker to lender, people begin to worry. But as it turns out, worrying is actually good for us.

This year, the mortgage marketplace will reward not just those capable of seeing beyond the numbers to the stories beneath and then pivoting, but also to those who can use the anxiety.  And we all experience anxiety when change hits us right between the eyes.

Here’s the paradox.

It’s not the worrying that freezes us. It’s our inability to get past the moment the worry does freeze us. This is the moment when powerlessness wins and we’re no longer open. What freezes us is not surrendering to the anxiety—the paradox is that worry is actually doing something.

In fact, research shows that worry motivates us and makes us better planners. A crew of enterprising researchers looked at rumination and discovered that people who sat with their anxiety tended to have far higher verbal intelligence than those who don’t.

The ability to apply that intelligence is quite likely the recipe for success. And here’s how you can do that:

  • Use worry as a mindfulness tool: Worry is often based on expecting something to happen in the future. The cues of feeling the physical tension of worry or noticing that you’re spiraling into despair can bring you into the present. When worry surfaces, allow yourself a set time to stew in it, and then start a distracting activity.
  • Plan ahead: Essentially, worry helps to prepare us. Once we decide on the different actions we can take in various scenarios, the need to worry is eliminated. When you worry about a particular situation, balancing the negative with a positive action plan will help you set your fears aside.
  • Create a support system: Fear and worry can leave you feeling isolated. However, when we feel a sense of connection and support, our fears can be calmed. Based on the plan you create, build a support team to help you action your plan or just to share the worrisome moment with you and hold you accountable.


How are you responding to the changing real estate industry? Share it with us in the comments!

Mar 28 | 2016

This girl is on fire! Introducing Hali Strandlund-Noble, real estate trailblazer

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Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you’ll never forget her name
She’s on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

Alicia Keys

Hali Strandlund-NobleAs far as we’re concerned, Alicia Keys could be talking about Hali Strandlund-Noble, the focus of our February 2016 EXPERT/ease special feature.

As the youngest female inductee into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame and recipient of the MBABC Pioneer Award, Hali sets the standard for professionals in her industry. Our special feature delves into her upbringing; the reason behind her personal success; her take on the current mortgage industry; and what advice she has for those starting out in the industry.

Hali Standlund-Noble is truly a force to be reckoned with and offers a perspective that is upbeat and empowering — especially to women in the industry — and one we think you’ll enjoy reading. You can check it out by clicking here.

Do you know anyone else trailblazing in the real estate industry? If so, we’d love to learn more them and their insight into today’s complex real estate world. Feel free to share by commenting below.

Sep 23 | 2015

Ask a title officer: how to complete the RSA form

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Andrea Tait has been with FCT since January 2015 as a title officer.

Andrea Tait has been with FCT since January 2015 as a title officer.

No one likes completing paperwork, we get that. But no one likes a delayed refinance deal either —especially your clients. By completing all the forms required for your Platinum Refinance Deal correctly the first time, you will minimize delays, but more importantly, you’ll improve the customer experience and stand apart from your competition.

Our latest edition of Broker’s Edge examines just how to put this advice into practice when completing the Request for Statement and Authorization (RSA) form. Andrea Tait, title officer at FCT, offers some helpful tips to avoid time-consuming errors and unnecessary back-and-forth that can annoy your clients and can potentially put your deal at risk.

Andrea explains:

“I like to think of the RSA form as the combination to a lock — get everything right and the vault will open.”

Andrea offers the following checklist for seamless processing:

  • Always use the FCT form, if available. If not, use the form provided to you by your lender.
  • Choose only one purpose for the form by identifying it as a discharge, transfer or information only.
  • Identify the financial institution and include all pertinent contact information.
  • Include the mortgage number.
  • Make sure all necessary parties sign the form.
  • Include contact information for the lawyer handling the mortgage.
  • Ensure all information is legible.
  • Give your lender enough time to process the refinance by submitting as soon as possible.


Additional resources

If you’re looking for more tips on completing the RSA, check out the RSA Tip Sheet. And if you still have questions, get in touch! You are invited to contact us by phone at 1.855.500.3565 or by email at Remember, your questions and comments are the key to helping us deliver a better experience for you and your peers and we’d love to hear from you.

Check back again soon for more of the inside scoop or subscribe to the FCT blog today.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Aug 26 | 2015

Ask a title officer: volume 2

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Robyn Downie has been with FCT for 3 years as a title officer

As a followup to our recent post: ; we offer you volume 2, which will examine additional questions asked of an FCT Title Officer via our online newsletter, Broker’s Edge. Here is the dialogue that took place between an FCT customer and FCT Title Officer of three years, Robyn Downie.

My client has a short maturity date on their existing mortgage. How does FCT’s process ensure that my deal closes on time?

Occasionally we do get a refinance/transfer deal through the Platinum program where the borrower’s current mortgage will mature before we can actually close the deal. This can result in unnecessary penalties to the borrower, but moreover, can put your entire deal at risk. And as you know, you don’t make money off deals that don’t close, despite all the work that goes into them.

The first thing we do is remind our broker partners to be well aware of maturity dates before they submit deals to the lenders. In the case of a known short maturity, it is always best practice to advise your client to renew their current mortgage into an open term so that there is ample time for you, the lender and FCT to process the new refinance/transfer.

Secondly, if FCT receives a file and it cannot be completed by the maturity date (i.e. the short maturity date was not made known up front), we will contact you and your client to ensure all parties are aware of the issue. By doing so, the customer will then be able to arrange for an open term with the existing lender.

But isn’t there a risk that my borrower may be lured back to their current lender when they apply for the open term?

Yes, there is always that risk. The bottom line is that your borrower’s current financial institution will use every available touch point, including when we request a payout statement, to make an attempt to retain the borrower’s business. However, there might be a greater risk that the deal won’t close without an open term.

If you need any more information about how to handle short maturity dates, call our Broker Hotline at 1.855.500.3565 and we’d be happy to help you work through any potential obstacles.

Still have questions?

If there is something you’d like to ask an FCT Title Officer please submit your question below. You never know; we might use it in a future edition of Broker’s Edge and/or feature it in an upcoming blog post.

And as always, check back again soon for more of the inside scoop or subscribe to the FCT blog today.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Aug 13 | 2015

Ask a title officer: volume 1

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You may or may not know that FCT has recently launched a free bi-monthly e-newsletter called Broker’s Edge. Broker’s Edge provides timely content and handy tips to help brokers process refinances more efficiently through FCT’s Platinum Refinance Program and its participating lenders.

title officer

Gillian Baker has been with FCT for 9 years as a title officer

“Ask a Title Officer,” is an interactive section on Broker’s Edge where you get to ask questions of an FCT employee and benefit from their first-hand knowledge of the industry. With the help of their insight, tips and tricks, we hope to help you create smoother closings. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the first question that our FCT Title Officer, Gillian Baker addressed:

I love how your Platinum refi program offers convenience and cost savings for my borrower. Is there anything special I need to do to in order to close my first Platinum deal with FCT?

First off, thank you for choosing FCT for your refinance deal! And yes, there are definitely a few, simple things you can do to assist in a smooth and timely closing:

  • State that you want to use FCT for closing in your notes to the lender
  • Take time to introduce your client to FCT and our process by using the lender-specific borrower letters. To access the letters:
    • Go to the Platinum section for brokers on
    • Click on your participating lender
    • Select Borrower Letter in the Platinum Refinance section
  • Submit all pertinent documentation to the lender together at once
  • Ensure that the Request for Payout Statement and Authorization form is correct and completed in full and all check boxes (discharge, transfer, etc.) found at the top of the RSA form are checked, as needed
  • Use milestones as opportunities to follow up with your client and keep them involved and informed of next steps. You will receive a milestone at the following stages:
    • Deal received/started by FCT
    • Payout Statement ordered
    • Payout Statement received
    • Signing appointment date set (date will be included)
    • Funding complete
  • Ensure your borrower understands the role of the signing agent and that any and all questions should always be managed by you, not the signing agent

I hope that helps! Remember, you can always call our Broker Hotline at 1.855.500.3565 if you would like additional information or help with closing your first deal with FCT.

Need help? Want to learn more? Just ask!

Do you have a question you’d like to ask an FCT Title Officer? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your question below and we might use it in an upcoming edition of Broker’s Edge.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Jul 14 | 2015

Harnessing partnership to broker success

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Today the broker segment represents over brokers edge_small30% of the mortgage industry and wields great influence regarding the acceptance of title insurance within the lending realm. Harnessing that partnership between lending and title insurance is what will ultimately differentiate business models and earn loyal customers for both sides.

“In a world where technology has made everything instant and transparent, it is always easier to find a better deal elsewhere. But the bottom line isn’t what keeps customers nor does it build loyalty. What really separates the good from the great in the title insurance business (or any business, for that matter) is customer experience,” says Colleen Preisner, Director of Marketing at FCT.

Experience Excellence

Most know that failing to meet customer expectations can be the downfall for any business. Therefore, focusing on the customer experience as a whole is important to moving beyond merely meeting expectations to exceeding them. Partners need to keep themselves relevant and constantly provide value in an ever changing market. In fact, that is the basic premise behind FCT’s promise of Experience Excellence™.

FCT sees all of its customers as valued partners — partners who can offer insight and best practices critical to strategic development and innovation. And more importantly, to service excellence.

Get an edge on the competition

In fact, FCT is launching a new free bi-monthly e-newsletter to do just that. Broker’s Edge will offer timely insider information to help busy brokers outshine the competition in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The thinking behind this newest electronic resource is to continue to find different ways in which to improve communication and the quality of dialogue between Brokers, FCT and Broker lenders. As a two-way street, FCT seeks to build a better, stronger relationship with brokers, while assisting them to process their refinances more efficiently through its exclusive list of participating Platinum lenders. Broker’s Edge will serve as an interactive, user-friendly, central source for all things FCT. It will focus on helping brokers make the most of the FCT’s highest level of service for lenders: the Platinum Service Refinance Program.

Broker’s Edge will examine the following areas in relation to its Platinum program:

  1. Closing best practices from the experts in our operations centers across Canada
  2. Market and sales insights developed by our business intelligence team
  3. New process innovations based on Broker’s feedback and collaboration with our lender partners
  4. Handy resources for document processing, sales contacts and operational help


Experience Broker’s Edge for yourself. Click here to view the premiere edition!

Subscribe today and don’t miss out on this exciting new publication from FCT.