Are you career-minded?Anthony GramzaAnthony Gramza, mortgage industry, commercial loans Recently, all of us in the mortgage industry have been reading articles in national and local newspapers, magazines and trade journals about the past and current real estate market. In this case, I refer specifically to the residential side of our industry. Have we seen the last days of summer, as they refer to the boom times in real estate and mortgage sales? Has the real estate marketplace hit its peak? Are we preparing for the "bust" to occur in the busy-dizzy days of spring/summer/fall sales? What is really going to happen to this highly feverish real estate marketplace? I wish I knew all of the answers. Real crystal balls are hard to come by, but past experience may provide some of the answers. If you are currently a mortgage broker or broker associate and have, up to this time, considered yourself successful, you may wonder why you would want to make any changes to your career path. You're happy where you are, you're making money, you're getting calls for mortgage funds, people are still buyingtherefore, as the old saying goes, why upset the applecart? It's a good question to continue to ask yourself, but can you provide a truthful answer? Are you sitting there today thinking it will never end, that people will continue to buy at the current pace, interest rates will stay at the current levels and nothing will change in the economy? If the answer is yes, then I think you need to take off the blinders. We have all been fooled by our previous predictions, myself included. I thought for sure that the market was headed for a downward trend three years ago, two years ago, and even this past year. Fortunately, we have all been pleasantly surprised. Interest rates have stayed at very low levels, consumers have more money to spend, the soothsayers from the Far East are encouraging buyers to buy and consumers are taking on heavier debt in their mortgages. Liquidity and savings are down to some of their lowest levels in decades. If negative changes do occur in the residential market, then what do you do? About four years ago, I wrote an article titled, "A career change in the wind: Is it for me?" In it, I discussed the advantages of considering the commercial mortgage marketplace. What I wrote four or so years ago still holds true today. You can find endless excuses for why you don't want to enter the commercial arena, but I guarantee you that most of them don't hold water. There are more advantages than disadvantages to this side of our industry. As the old adage goes, if you think you will fail, you will; if you think you will succeed, you will. What matters is your state of mind. It all begins with education. There is no mystery to this business; it's not difficult, there is no special magic, and bottom line, you can make a handsome living at it. The boundaries are limitless. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers, through its educational division, offers several eight-hour courses and a four-hour course on commercial loan brokering. Each state partner is provided with course material, and if your state does not have a qualified instructor, your national association will provide an approved national instructor to come into your state to teach and bring to you their expertise both in and out of the field. If these courses are not currently being offered in your state, ask why. They are good courses that provide the solid basics to move into this field, and the cost is minimal. With these courses behind you and the guidance of a mentor, along with a continuous reinforcement of "I can do it," you will succeed in commercial mortgage placement. Don't listen to all of the war stories. Don't use them as the excuse for why you can't succeed. Listen to a mentor you trust, let them guide you along, think "outside the box" sometimes, challenge when you feel it is appropriate, and after listening, judge for yourself both the successes as well as the failures. When starting off, be willing to co-broker the transaction with another broker whom you feel is qualified to "make the deal happen." Remember, it's your attitude that will determine whether you win or lose. Once you have the education behind you, start opening your mouth and let everyonebrokers as well as the general publicknow that you can assist in obtaining commercial mortgage financing. Start off slow, accept the defeats and cherish the successes. Remember, you are working on behalf of your client, but at the same time, you have another partner in the deal-the lender. Be truthful with your lender like you are with your client. Reputation follows a person, and this world is small. What you do right as well as wrong will follow you. Get all of the information, present a good package, work with your lender at the same pace as you do with your client and provide them with both the good and bad points of the deal. Lenders are your partners; they need your deals as much as you need them. Establish a good reputation, and the rest will come. Get to know who the lenders are, what products they like over another, and let them know you are operating on the commercial side of the industry. Attend as many good seminars and conferences as you can, make sure you pass out those business cards, and if nothing else, remember to ask for the deal. Lastly, be honest with yourself as well as your client. After you have analyzed the transaction, checked with your lending source, and arrived at the best terms and conditions, inform your client. The answers may not always be what the client would like to hear, but be honest, and don't waste everyone's time with possible maybes. In this industry it's the bottom line that counts. Have a great day and much success in the career field of commercial loan brokering. Anthony Gramza is president of Rochester, N.Y.-based AMG Commercial Mortgage Group. He may be reached at (585) 264-9540 or e-mail [email protected].