Mortgage broker Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX: MOC) is currently paying a 16 cent annualised fully franked dividend – equating to a yield of 9.5% at the current share price of $1.68.

Add on the franking credits and that’s a grossed up yield of 13.6% – or more than 10% than the best savings accounts are offering.

But can the broker and financial planning firm continue paying out that level of dividends or even increase it?

In the latest half year results, Mortgage Choice made a net profit of $10.75 million – the equivalent of 8.6 cents in earnings per share. That equates to a dividend payout ratio of around 93%.

In the last two financial years, the company has paid out more in dividends that it generated in earnings per share according to Commsec, but has always maintained a high dividend payout ratio. There’s one good reason for that. Mortgage Choice doesn’t have much to spend its profits on sensibly. Most of its assets are people in the form of brokers and financial planners and it has always had zero or close to no debt. As such, it makes sense to pay out most of its earnings as dividends.

You’d also think that investors would be clambering aboard Mortgage Choice with the share price down 40% since its high of $2.80 in early 2015, given its generous dividends.

Perhaps the market has it right this time?

Australia’s property market is cooling down – there seems to be no doubt about that – particularly in Sydney. Investors, both local and foreign appear to have jumped out of the market, pushing house prices down. That is more than likely going to lead to a fall in business for Mortgage Choice as well as other listed brokers, Australian Finance Group Ltd (ASX: AFG) and Yellow Brick Road Holdings Ltd (ASX: YBR), or so you might think.

Today, AFG reported that it had seen strong trading across both segments of its business, particularly its Home Loans division, and it was upgrading its fully year 2016 net profit to between $22 and $22.5 million. That’s 11.8% to 14.4% higher than the company’s forecast in its prospectus.

However, AFG has already reported a first half net profit of $11.7 million, suggesting the second half of the financial year will be lower at between $10.3 and $10.8 million.

That also reflects recent news from real estate agent McGrath Ltd (ASX: MEA) with the number of houses listed for sale sinking after a strong first half, as well as ongoing trends in the housing market.

Foolish takeaway

That suggests that while 2015 was a strong year for the property market and its ASX-listed participants, the next year or so may not be quite as rosy. That could see the likes of Mortgage Choice forced to cut its dividend in future.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.