The mortgage lender's lender.

AuthorEarly, Bill
PositionCOVER REPORT: PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT

Banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, investment firms and myriad other "financial type" companies are waiting to meet you. (They just don't know it.)

Looking for another channel of business for your company? Or, as a loan officer, are you interested in reaching out to some affinity groups that might really find you and your services valuable? [paragraph] Well, I've got an unlikely niche to run by you that you might not have thought about in the past--but it's available. [paragraph] You might be saying, "Well, why should I listen to this guy anyway? What's his track record?" So let me fill you in briefly on my company's history. [paragraph] This is my wife's and my 31st year in the mortgage lending business, and Cathy and I are now on our third mortgage company--PlumDog Financial. We started our first operation in Detroit and now reside and lend in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Whoa, that was a good move! [paragraph] In 1987, after just two and a half years in the business, we sold our first mortgage brokerage operation to a local bank. We had seven loan officers; were writing just over $100 million per year; Fannie Mae's conforming loan limit was $153,100 and our average loan amount was approximately $124,000.

We proceeded to start our second mortgage lending brokerage in 1989. Eventually we had 75 loan officers (and no processors); were closing $350 million per year; Fannie Mae's loan limit was $214,600 and our average loan amount was $143,000. In 1997 we sold that operation to a local financial planning firm.

Now, you ask, why were these particular firms interested in purchasing our mortgage lending companies? I mean, the bank already had a mortgage operation and the financial planning firm really wasn't in that business.

Let me tell you the story of how it happened. Once upon a time....

We knew from the get-go, because different is better, that we weren't going to be as successful focusing our sales and marketing on the same market (typically Realtors[R]) as the other 9 bazillion lenders in the area did.

So, thinking about the various options, and to make a long story shorter, we decided to put together some creative marketing programs and services that were pertinent and attractive to the "other" financial services industries.

First, the banks

We knew the banks had thousands of employees in the Michigan market, couldn't deliver the service we could, and would not be as competitive with price, closing costs and loan programs. And we surmised that many of their employees just would not want to divulge confidential information to their employer. Still, were they comfortable sending and/or referring clients and employees our way? Yes.

Why, why, why? No. 1, we convinced them that they surely did not want an existing customer or employee going to another bank for their mortgage, for any reason, as it could jeopardize business the bank is currently providing in other products and services...

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