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National Mortgage Professional
Jul 01, 2005

Selling mortgages, soft drinks and beerCharlie Elliott Jr., MAI, SRAunique products, marketing, unconventional loans Why would anyone want to concern themselves with offering the oddball product when they can sell the conventional cookie-cutter loan? Unique products generally require more education for the customer, are usually less available, and are met with resistance from any and all parties of the transaction. Perhaps this is true, but we are currently in a market where the customer is king. Only those of us who are able to meet their needs, no matter how broad and varying, are going to survive and/or possibly excel in the profession. One needs to go no farther than the neighborhood convenience store to demonstrate this point. Forty years ago, most convenience stores I frequented had one relatively small drink box. In this box, there were usually a half dozen different types of soft drinks: Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, some type of orange, a grape drink (NuGrape, if I remember correctly), and if you were lucky, a chocolate drink. If the store sold beer, it might have had two or three different brands: Schlitz, Budweiser and possibly Miller, offering only one standard version of each. That was it. Additionally, the inventory was shallow; it may have totaled 40 or 50 containers. Someone having a family gathering could have consumed the entire inventory. Needless to say, things have changed in today's convenience stores. It is not uncommon for today's stores to stock a dozen different varieties of Coke alone. This includes various combinations of standard, diet, decaf, cherry and low carb; various containers of cans, plastic and glass; and a plethora of sizes, ranging from eight ounces to two or three liters. Most beer brands come in standard, light and non-alcoholic, and are packaged in a variety of bottles and cans of varying sizes. This does not address the fact that stores of the past had no juices. Furthermore, who would have ever thought that a customer would be foolish enough to pay $1.25 for a bottle of water? And yes, the stores of today usually have a deep inventory of both these beverages. Why do today's convenience stores offer such a vast array of different products? The cost of the storage and refrigeration systems alone must be astronomical, as they take up a quarter to one half of the walls in the store. In the past, who would have dreamed of having walk-in refrigeration rooms just for drinks? The simple answer is that the consumer is more sophisticated than those in the past and demands more. How long would we expect a convenience store of today to survive with the paltry inventory of drinks offered in the past? The answer is obvious. Are mortgages any different than beverages? The answer is yes they are, but the more important question is: Are the customers the same people? This question and answer is the one we should focus on. Today's consumer has more money than those in the past, has more sophisticated tastes, is used to getting their way and will buy from whomever is willing to address the demand. This applies not only to beverages but also to financial products. It would be simple, economical and uncomplicated for those in the mortgage lending profession to stick to the one-size-fits-all, 30-year, fixed-rate plan, vanilla loans. The answer, however, is outside the prerogative of the lender. It lies within the ever-changing demands, needs and tastes of the consumer. Those destined for success within the lending arena will be those who understand the consumer's demands and do everything within their power to meet them. Yes, there will always be a need for the plain vanilla product, but to attempt to survive on that market alone is no longer feasible. The lender offering a broad menu of services, including sub-prime mortgages, reverse mortgages, construction-to-perm mortgages, interest-only variables, no doc, no down payment loan, 125 percent LTV, FHA and VA, not to mention others, is the lender of the future. Lenders with one or two products cannot expect to be a force in the marketplace like the convenience store operator with the small drink box. The same executive jumbo loan borrower will be buying that vacation home, helping their kid purchase that starter home, helping their grandparents obtain the reverse mortgage and advising that employee with less-than-perfect credit as to where to go to obtain the product they need. Today's successful lender will find a way to serve all of these interests, as that is the state of the art in the way today's mortgage products are successfully marketed. Charlie W. Elliott Jr., MAI, SRA, is president of ELLIOTT & Company Appraisers, a national real estate appraisal company. He can be reached at (800) 854-5889, e-mail charlie@elliottco.com or visit the company's Web site at www.appraisalsanywhere.com.
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