For many brokers, the lure of inner-city property price tags can be too much to resist. Not so for Paddy O’Sullivan of Mortgage Choice Nowra.
The MFAA State Excellence Award winning regional broker returned to the NSW South Coast to take over a Mortgage Choice franchise in 2016. Since then his team has grown from two to eleven, as local marketing campaigns have helped to establish the business.
Paddy also focuses on community and charity support participating most weeks in the Man Walk for mental health, raising funds for the Cancer Council, and sponsoring local football teams and schools.
And as more Sydneysiders make the move away from the big smoke to the coastal regions, this local broker looks set for a bright future in the Shoalhaven.
Paddy O’Sullivan of Mortgage Choice Nowra is the subject of this edition of Prospa’s Long Road – Tales of Regional Brokers.
MFAA: Hi Paddy, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in Nowra?
Paddy O’Sullivan: We got started in 2016 when we took over an existing Mortgage Choice franchise. Initially it was myself but within four months my wife had left her job and joined me to help with the business. We’ve slowly built it up to 11 staff in total.
MFAA: What were you doing before 2016?
Paddy: I came from an engineering and mining background, so previously I worked at BlueScope Steel in Wollongong, then I worked for BHP in Wollongong and then Rio Tinto in the Hunter Valley. From there I moved back down the South Coast to work for a small engineering company in Bomaderry, where I was selling mechanical seals into the mining industry. I worked there for about 18 months or so and it was at that point in time the Mortgage Choice franchise was for sale in the area. The timing just worked out so I thought I’d give that a go.
MFAA: So what led to the career switch? What was your thinking there?
Paddy: I was doing a lot of travel and we liked the self-employed aspect and wanted to build something in the community down here, and we thought it would fit with our skill set nicely.
MFAA: What sort of buyers primarily do you service through the business?
Paddy: We’d be 95% residential but we have a broad residential base, as in we’d do first home buyers to investors to reverse mortgages. We really try hard to own our marketing in the area, in the Nowra, Bomaderry, Berry, Jervis Bay area. We’re very geography based in that sense and that’s our speciality, anyone in our area looking for finance assistance.
MFAA: Anecdotally more people seem to be moving away from the big cities at the moment and towards the coastal regions. Has that impacted your business at all?
Paddy: All the agents I talk to are telling me how busy they are, and they’re saying they’ve got a lot of Sydney buyers. There is a big trend of more and more people that will live down here, work a couple of days in the city and work remotely for the other couple of days. That’s the kind of changing nature of these peripheral cities to Sydney.
MFAA: Can you tell us a bit about your work in the community and how important that work is to you and your business?
Paddy: We just get involved. We live and breathe the community here in Nowra. Our kids go to school here, we’re involved in the sporting clubs because they’re involved in the sporting clubs. There’s a local walk for mental health and I get involved with that on a weekly basis. We also do charity work, like they had a local Cancer Council dance for cancer last year where we raised $17,000 for the Cancer Council. We also sponsor a few of the Nowra footy clubs and some of the schools and anyone else who asks. We’re usually happy to donate.
MFAA: What’s the best and worst part of broking outside of a big city?
Paddy: I like that we’re out of the way to a certain extent. From a marketing point of view it’s easier to get cut through to your community. We have a local radio station down here in the Shoalhaven that we advertise on, so it’s quite easy to have a community presence. That’s the advantage to being in a small community. You can really get out and get involved. You’re not just a small fish in a big pond. As for disadvantages, well I don’t really see any disadvantages. You wouldn’t catch me working in the city. A lot of people say our loan sizes are smaller and I guess they are, but they’re not too bad at all.
MFAA: You were recently featured in a trade publication discussing your marketing efforts. What advice would you give others to attract more customers?
Paddy: I just think if you can market to that general brand presence and not just for leads. I think we’ve done a good job over time by just having lots of things ticking over in the background. Simply getting our name out there, so when people are ready, we’ve already got that recognition. I think too many people focus on trying to find a client with their marketing, and if you’re focusing on that you tend to find the wrong kind of clients.
MFAA: And what have you got on the cards for the future?
Paddy: We see ourselves expanding our staff and really getting everyone trained up. One of the things we’ve invested on in the last couple of years is our staff here. We’ll also look to getting our systems and processes running really smoothly and keep improving our customer service.
MFAA: Terrific Paddy, thanks so much for your time.