“Most of them are self-employed,” Dodson said. “They know sometimes I’m their last option. A lot of times when I get them, they’ve been turned down by the banks.”
Because these borrowers have a better understanding of the market cycle, they’re not too worried about interest rates. Although mortgage rates are high now, they know that there will be an opportunity to refinance in the next couple of years.
“Their expectations are more realistic,” Feldman said. “It is also easier to have high-level conversations regarding rate and product since a lot of my clients have a finance background.”
Taking From Banks
Depository banks, such as Wells Fargo and Chase, oftentimes attract high net-worth borrowers with their jumbo products, providing great practice for originators who want to get into this niche. That’s how Dodson, Feldman, and Tansin were able to grow their customer base before transitioning to the independent originator side.
“The last job I had before I left the bank was being the mortgage manager for Santa Monica and Beverly Hills,” Tansin said. “I had no customers whatsoever, but I had a huge network base. I had so many business bankers, financial analysts, financial advisors, personal bankers, branch managers, CPAs, and attorneys. So, that’s who I talked to first.”
Tansin began by reaching out to the people she knew and told them she was originating loans now. Because of Tansin’s well-built reputation and experience at her other job, these professionals already trusted her. It was important for Tansin to do a good job for these clients to avoid embarrassing the attorney or financial advisor who referred them to her.
The Right Referral Sources
Bringing over past banking clients is a great way to get started in this niche, but it’s a necessary part of the job to keep that referral network expanding. Nowadays, it’s quite easy to find and reach out to attorneys, financial advisors, and other referral partners on the internet. But in 1998, when Dodson was just starting up his company, The Private Capital Group, he didn’t have that convenience. Instead, he put his ads in magazines, such as the Atlanta Business Chronicle, that attracted older, wealthier readers.
Putting ads in these local magazines that have targeted audiences is a great way to capture the attention of a specific demographic. “That got me a lot of attention,” Dodson said. “One of the senior partners at Harry Norman, a big real estate company, told me to put my picture on everything. I was so hesitant to do that. But man, he was right. I ran a lot of ads in my early career (and) I did a lot of presentations with attorneys, accountants, and financial planners.”