Many streams make a river!Karen Deissub-prime, niches, apartment complexes, corporate accounts, for-sale-by-owner, real estate agents and builders We have just experienced a river of sub-prime lending! That river has dried up, so your ship has been dry-docked! The fish are no longer jumping in the boat. Your wallet is experiencing the drought. My advice to you is to stay away from the river and consider creating different streams (i.e., niche markets), so that when one of the streams of income dries up, you'll still have money flowing your way. Here are five niches to consider. Pick any three of them, and you'll never be without water (income) again. Marketing to apartment complexes While a majority of first-time homebuyers can be found living in apartment complexes, they may also be temporary housing for people going through a divorce, getting married or transferring to a new job. The beauty of marketing to apartment complexes is that once you have the mailing addresses, you can market to them forever, because the addresses never change, but the people who live there do, so you are constantly marketing to new people. Marketing to corporate accounts This is not the same as calling on the human resource managers. It's targeting mid-sized companies with bundled discounts of more than $1,000, so you become the endorsed lender for all of their employees. Why should you choose mid-sized companies? They are the ones hardest hit with higher insurance premiums and retirement fees for their employees. Choose companies where you have done loans for their employees. Get them to endorse you. Create real, honest-to-goodness savings by asking your appraiser to reduce his fees, your title company to reduce its closing fees and your financial planner and tax preparer to provide free services. I had 46 companies with a total of 36,000 employees that distributed my brochures every single year. For-sale-by-owner marketing No, I'm not talking about putting a sign in their yard or asking them to refer their tire-kickers to you! These are the people who have literally put a sign in their yard and told you that they are selling a home and are ready to buy another one. You have two opportunities here. The main goal is to get them pre-approved before they sell their home. The headline on your letter should say something like the following: "Don't sell your home and discover that you can't buy another one! Our free report tells you why it's critical that you get pre-approved so that you don't find yourself homeless and living under a bridge." According to the National Association of Realtors, on average, for-sale-by-owner sellers will attempt to sell their homes themselves for an average of 75 days or less. They eventually get tired of the marketing and holding open houses, and they take their homes off the market. Opportunity number two is your ability to refer them to three real estate agents of their choice when they decide to list their homes for sale. Free report marketing This is the way to add leads to your database. In fact, this is one of the methods lead-generation companies use. Some loan officers pay big money for leads like this. You don't have to, because you can generate them yourself. You've seen the headlines and the offers to send a free report published in real estate magazines. But, there are other places to consider offering a free report, such as the real estate classified ads (especially if there's a special section for for-sale-by-owner sellers), the Yellow Pages, bar association directories, the radio, TV or a toolbar on your Web site. Real estate agents and builders Begging for referrals is so last decade! Create a seminar series with ideas on how real estate agents and builders can get more business. Offer to train rookie agents on the top five loan programs. Start a book club using business books as the basis of discussions. Refer your for-sale-by-owner and apartment complex leads to them. See if they want to be included in providing commission discounts for your corporate marketing system. Turn the table and create your own list of preferred agents. Just remember one more thing: You are not violating RESPA by offering discounts on behalf of yourself or other mortgage professionals, because there are no kickbacks involved and the discounts are for the benefit of the consumer. In conclusion, don't put your eggs in one basket, many stones make a mountain and many streams make a river! Karen Deis is president of Consumer-Direct-Marketing.com based in Hudson, Wis. and has been in the mortgage business for 28 years. She may be reached at (800) 535-3343 or e-mail [email protected].