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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   October 2009

Niches, Spelled Out

Key characteristics often pop out in brokers who truly work their specialty

You've likely noticed how some mortgage brokers have a knack for discovering the newest and trendiest niche markets.r_2009-10_Lykken_spot

Beyond that, have you ever wondered what makes them successful in that market once they've found it? If so, understanding some of the characteristics that make brokers successful in their specialty markets may help you find similar success in your chosen niche.

By breaking down the word "niche," we can associate some important terms and phrases with each letter:

  • Neutral
  • Intuitive, innovative, intense
  • Cautious, confident, creative
  • Hits hard
  • Evolves or exits

Each often is essential to standing out in your specialty. Here's a closer look.


Brokers who identify important market niches before others generally take pride in being neutral observers of industry trends. They look at the market free of biases and pay careful attention to what they see. Those who spot important trends and find success in them tend to be pragmatic rather than opinionated.

For example, in the mid-1990s, subprime (aka, nonprime) loans emerged as niche products. Many A-paper lenders turned up their noses. As time went on, and as subprime products became more mainstream, many brokers jumped on the bandwagon. Before the problems of the past few years, many also found sustainable success.

By being — and remaining — neutral, many brokers who entered the subprime-lending niche early also recognized when it was time to exit. You can do this, too, but you must remain objective regardless of how profitable or popular a niche market seems — or doesn't.

Intuitive, innovative, intense

Brokers who concentrate on developing new niches before industrywide adjustments lead the masses to the same place tend to be intuitive and innovative. Beyond that, after they lock on to an idea, the early adopters pursue it with great intensity. Often, this intense passion comes from their intuitive beliefs that the market will soon require a huge increase in that specific type of lending. When these beliefs prove to be correct, huge profit margins typically stand close at hand.

When innovation and intensity meet, incredible things can happen. This can be the result of nature — right-brain thinkers, for example, tend to be more intuitive than left-brain thinkers — but it also can be developed. Brokers can increase their level of innovation by making cognizant attempts to observe market conditions and to apply insightful solutions to existing problems and trends. This isn't easy, but when done correctly and with intensity, the results can be powerful.

Cautious, confident, creative

Despite their passion, brokers who find early success in new niches tend to be cautious thinkers. This goes along with being neutral. After they sense an opportunity, these brokers often approach it confidently, but cautiously.

In addition, their approach often is creative. Although this approach can be difficult for others to understand, it is crucial to their success. In some ways, it's that creativity that allows these brokers to see and develop niche markets that others overlook.

In attempting to identify your own niche market, try to think about things in a way you never have before. If you do, you might realize that the next great niche is right before your eyes.

Hits hard

After they've decided that their intuition is correct, brokers entering a new niche often hit it hard. They are laser-focused, have a strong work ethic and chase success tirelessly.

They seem to realize that they have a small window of opportunity before the masses catch on, and they don't waste time.

Evolve or exit

Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of early niche adopters is their ability to evolve within their specialty or to decide it's time to look for something new. Right now, there likely are wealthy mortgage brokers traveling the globe and thinking back on their time at the top of subprime lending. They also may recall that moment when evolving with the market seemed too risky and selling their business was too profitable to turn down.

In fact, what might seem like luck to some of us was probably something far more complicated.


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