New Referral Partnership Celebrates First Closed Transactions

The little get together between teammates at Coldwell Banker Canada and Guiding Star Mortgage Group on a patio in June in Exeter, Ont., was, in the history of business partnership lunches, modest. 

What the two companies were quietly celebrating was remarkable: Coldwell Banker Canada and Guiding Star Mortgage Group had closed their first transactions in their new referral partnership.  

Shaun Westlake, Vice-President, Sales, at Guiding Star Mortgage Group called it “nothing short of a phenomenal success story.”  

Westlake added: “Guiding Star is a team that, effectively, had its first agents onboarded in January and, by May, we are already closing deals through that new partnership. It made sense to celebrate together.”  

The referral partnership is an example of two independent lines of Canadian-based business able to intersect when the conditions are right, allowing a unique service to be offered to the consumer. 

The referral partnership is an example of two independent lines of Canadian-based business able to intersect when the conditions are right, allowing a unique service to be offered to the consumer. 

Karim Kennedy, CEO of Coldwell Banker Canada and Guiding Star Mortgage Group, at Gen Blue in Vancouver, May 2023.

Coldwell Banker Dawnflight Realty

Greg Dodds, the Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker Dawnflight Realty in Exeter, ON, was at the celebration lunch. It was his deal that made history. 

“It definitely was a happy group,” said Dodds. “For us it was a no-brainer to get involved when the Guiding Star partnership was announced.”

For us, it was a no-brainer to get involved in the partnership, says Greg Dodds, Broker/Owner, Dawnflight Realty

After that announcement, Dodds’s go-to mortgage agent, Jeff Ruston, switched to Guiding Star, which is backed by Dominion Lending Centres National Ltd. 

“That helped us out and it gave him access to more lending options,” said Dodds. “We’ve already put together some creative deals that we wouldn’t have been able to do before.” 

Dodds said his working relationship with Ruston has been “supercharged” by the Coldwell Banker Canada-Guiding Star Mortgage Group partnership.  

“It has worked smoothly because we already had that existing relationship with him and with [Guiding Star mortgage agent] Matt Doughty,” Dodds said. “The products he now has access to means he can do anything from finances, refinances, assignment deals, commercial deals, literally, anything.” 

Coldwell Banker First Ottawa Realty

Ross Webley, the Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker First Ottawa Realty, is also an early adopter of the partnership. Guiding Star mortgage agent Moe Baalbaki now works out of First Ottawa’s office in Stittsville, ON. 

“We closed our first transaction a week or two ago and there are more to come,” Webley said. “Things are looking good. The agents are trying him out. Moe is quick to respond. He’s knowledgeable. They like what they hear from him.” 

“I’m all in,” says Ross Webley, Broker/Owner, First Ottawa Realty

Baalbaki attends the brokerage’s monthly business meetings and has hosted lunch-and-learn sessions for First Ottawa real estate agents. Webley said that when the corporate partnership was announced, “I jumped all over it. I’m all in on this. If it’s done properly, it will work.” 

Webley said the working relationship with Guiding Star enhances the corporate tools that Coldwell Banker agents use to grow their business.  

“I look at the agents as my clients and I want them to have all the tools and systems to do just that—to grow their business,” he said.

“There are a lot more tools and technology now that assist Coldwell Banker agents, and this relationship with Guiding Star is just one more way that the agents can grow their business and satisfy their customers in what is a very competitive field.”

The partnership provides a distinct competitive advantage, says Donny Rivers, Broker/Owner, Coldwell Banker All-Points Festival City Realty.

Coldwell Banker All-Points Realty

Donny Rivers, Broker/Owner at Coldwell Banker All-Points Festival City Realty in Goderich, ON, is another of the partnership’s early adopters whose brokerages have closed transactions.  

He said being able to offer another service to brokerage clients—a unique service, at that—convinced him to embrace and market the relationship. 

Rivers said the work his brokerage has put into the trust it enjoys in the community is leveraged into more goodwill by the partnership. 

“We’ve worked really hard to develop a good reputation and trust within our community and within our client base,” he said. “When we say, here’s someone you should at least have a phone call or a talk with who’s part of our larger group, I think the confidence is automatically there for the client.” 

Interfaced or Face-to-Face

Guiding Star’s Westlake pointed to the different ways the partnership can take shape in real life. In Exeter and Goderich, it’s primarily a virtual arrangement. In Ottawa, it’s an in-person set up.  

Interfaced or face-to-face, the partnership is working, he said. 

“Those are two very different approaches to the partnership and the exposure of the partnership, and both are working very well,” said Westlake.  

“There are other offices where people work in more of a hybrid arrangement. But whatever the arrangements need to be for the Broker/Owner, that is what we are doing. That flexibility will prove to be our success.” 

Shaun Westlake, Guiding Star Mortgage Group, VP, Sales, speaks at Coldwell Banker Canada’s Gen Blue conference in Vancouver, May 2023.

“A better place to be” for mortgage agents

Westlake will judge the success of the partnership by its bottom line, of course, but also by a few other factors, including the continued growth of the share of his agents’ book of business that is referred by Coldwell Banker Canada. 

“I would say that now, somewhere between 15%

Partnership in action: Guiding Star Mortgage Group Agent Dom Vetro explains the new My Mortgage app to colleagues at Coldwell Banker Fieldstone Realty in Halton Hills, ON.

and 25% of the business that is coming in is from Coldwell Banker,” he said. “That tells me that we are actually building that Coldwell Banker referral relationship.”  

Success will also mean more mortgage agents signing up with Guiding Star.  “We want to bring on mortgage agents that have depth and breadth of experience,” said Westlake. “Those are the people who are looking for a better place to be, looking for a team that provides more dedicated support to them, a team that actually does embrace the idea of being part of a team.”  

Success will mean the continued growth of awareness of the partnership.  

“When we can walk in off the street to any Coldwell Banker office and say, Hello, I’m from Guiding Star Mortgage Group

L-R, Westlake, Ron Hunter, Broker-Owner, Coldwell Banker Community Professionals and Dom Vetro, Guiding Star Mortgage agent, celebrate another first closed transaction in Hamilton, July 2023.

and people say, Oh, come on in, that, to me, will be the true testament of success,” he said. 

And success will mean a few more celebration lunches, Westlake said. 

“Next, I’m going to go to Ottawa and Goderich for a little celebration with Ross and Donny. I really couldn’t ask for more welcoming Broker/Owners than Greg and Ross and Donny and
Ron. What a great start.” 

Editors Note:

The photo of the celebration lunch at the top of the post shows, left to right, Greg Dodds and Kate Wuytenburg from Coldwell Banker Dawnflight Realty, and Shaun Westlake and Jeff Ruston from Guiding Star Mortgage Group, at Eddington’s of Exeter.

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