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In marketing, a primary factor affecting people's choices made is perception -- how a particular product or service is perceived as different or better than what consumers are using now. You must brand yourself in a way that promotes the perception that you and your services are different than others -- and as such, that you offer more.
To compete, therefore, you should consider market specialization. Select one or two areas of lending and become an expert in those fields. The areas of specialization that you select should be based on your personal interests as well as on the historic performance for loan originations. For example, although hotels have been a hotbed of loan originations since 2002, office and retail properties may offer more-consistent loan-origination opportunities over time.
Geographic area and availability of capital also influence property and loan demand. Given that availability of capital, for instance, is affected by events in the capital markets, you may not want to specialize in traditionally difficult-to-finance property types.
That said, becoming an expert requires a lot of work. It requires learning everything you can about a property type, including its investment risks and rewards. You'll need to learn how to assess a property's challenges and mitigate them in lenders' eyes.
Once you are conversant with your specialty property types, historic lending patterns, the local market and property demand, you also should familiarize yourself with current underwriting practices for purchase and refinance loans for these properties.
It helps to develop relationships with well-established lending institutions that specialize in the same type of property lending. If you can, meet with their underwriters and senior credit analysts. Learn how they evaluate loan applications.
Knowing what they look for will help you know in advance which of your lending institutions is best-suited for a particular loan. This will save you and your clients valuable time and transaction costs.
In addition, the more education, training and professional accreditation you get, the more credibility you will have in the marketplace. Consider earning professional designations through various industry associations. Earning credentials offers a threefold return on investment. First, they set you apart from much of your competition and elicit a level of trust and respect from current and prospective clients and financial-institution partners. Second, you can make significant business contacts through these affiliations and associations. Finally, you may enhance your professional self-esteem.
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Most people who are committed to their profession know that if they focus first on providing expert service, the money follows -- not the opposite. Mortgage professionals' reputations are a direct reflection of the quality of their service.
Once you elevate your standing from being a broker to being a sophisticated, knowledgeable problem-solver, you may never need to market your services again. Your reputation will precede you, and your growing base of commercial clients likely will follow you for as long as you remain in the business.
John Arno is a California-licensed real estate broker and Realtor. He has more than 30 years' experience in commercial property sales, syndication and financing.
He is the responsible broker for Park Hill Lending, a direct lender specializing in analysis, underwriting and funding of conventional and unconventional commercial real estate loans on all property types. Park Hill Lending is situated in Pismo Beach, Calif. Call the company at (805) 773-1514 or visit online at www.parkhilllending.com.
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