A Big Deal: Bernard Desmond

by 28 Mar 2018

A call for help on Linkedin secured a dream home for an Australian family in Dubai  


With more than 600,000 Australians currently overseas, it’s a surprisingly common misconception that borrowers can continue to access Australian mortgage finance while living and earning abroad.

One would-be borrower was learning this lesson the hard way when, desperate and stressed, he reached out via LinkedIn in a last-ditch attempt to solve what was fast emerging as an impossible situation.

The house in question was a five-bedroom residence set on a unique 22-acre horse property – a true Aussie lifestyle home. The buyer, an Australian man in his 50s who lived and worked in Dubai, UAE, required finance for 80% of the purchase.

He had been confident he would not have any issues in finding a bank as he had sufficient funds to service the commitment. But he soon discovered it was not so easy to find a lender who would not only lend on foreign income but also consider a security that was outside the normal suburban-home criteria.

There were three specific challenges. In addition to the foreign income, the buyer had spent 12 months approaching – and being rejected – by a number of providers. In fact, he had been searching for so long that the vendors were threatening legal action to recover their losses, and a deposit of $150,000 was at risk.

I said I would do everything to find a solution if there was one in this scenario. I took time to understand the client’s exact experience so far, learning about all the banks he had approached and making a note of the outcomes.

In the process of doing this due diligence I found some silver linings: servicing was strong, and the borrower’s wife and two children already lived in the property. Confident of a positive outcome, I got to work.


Initial enquiries confirmed what the buyer already knew. Some lenders were happy to go up to 60%, and some private lenders up to 70%. However, no one was going to 80%. If this was to be done it would need special sign-offs and exception approvals.

Then I started approaching things in a different way and reached out to decision-makers who worked for lenders in very senior positions.

I sent a proposal to La Trobe Financial, with a reduced loan term of 15 years in order to provide a strong exit strategy. Chief lending officer Cory Bannister responded with the good news the client needed. We collaborated closely with Bannister and the team at La Trobe to devise a bespoke solution for a not-so-unique situation.

Soon after I was able to go back to the buyer with the update he had been waiting for. The last 12 months had placed significant strain on the family, and they knew they were fast running out of options, so it really was make or break.

The obvious takeaway from this situation is never give up. ... Workshopping a deal with decision-makers was key to solving this application

The outcome was certainly a big win for the client and personally very satisfying for me, as I was able to get a result in record time, which was particularly appreciated given his drawn-out experience.

When I gave him the good news, his exact words were: “I cannot believe it. I am so glad I met you, Bernard. You have always been available and guided us like an expert to the finish line.” Even the conveyancer was in shock after witnessing the various lender changes and multiple valuation reports.


The obvious takeaway from this situation is never give up. However, there is a little more to it than that. Workshopping a deal with decision-makers was key to solving this application. Drawing on my professional experience, I saw merit in the application and knew to follow it through.

If you find yourself in a similar position, stack it up with supporting documents, mitigate any concerns the lender might have, and you will be surprised. Even in this market you will find solutions; and the ability to do that for people, rather than simply selling them a bank product, is the reason I became a broker. The feeling of accomplishment from solving this is fantastic.

Mortgage broking is a very rewarding and fulfilling career. We get to meet and help customers every day, and we are one of the only industries that don’t take their costs from the consumer. I feel great, and ready to take on 2018.

Bernard Desmond
Director and finance specialist
Loan MarketChief