Many top originators became top producers because they found a niche, a specialized product or area of lending that borrowers need and other originators don’t—or can’t—offer.
What’s not always clear is how they came to their niche, and how they went after certain clients who needed that specific information.
For some people, it’s a matter of necessity. At Mastermind 2019, Josh Mettle spoke about how he had to rebuild his business after the last crash because his primary clients, investors, no longer had money to spend. He had to determine who still had cash, and who was willing to spend it.
“We came across the idea that doctors are still making money, so we’re going to start working to serve those underserved doctor because they’re having problems getting financing,” Mettle said.
It just so happened that he was having more and more conversations with doctors and he noticed that they were asking very similar questions. Mettle began answering these questions in the form of videos, and posted them on YouTube. It just so happened that Google bought YouTube around that time, so mettle benefitted from improved Google ranking for those videos, and “the leads started to flow.”
“Doesn’t matter if they’re doctors or condos—You find a niche, you find some undeserved market that isn’t having the easiest time, and then you start answering their questions.”
Mettle discovered that there were closed Facebook groups with hundreds of thousands of people floating around in these different niche conversations. Become members of these groups, share the informational—not promotional—content within them, and people will reach out for more information.
“The process would simply be to find a group of people that would have a hard time getting approved via Rocket Mortgage, find out what their questions are, find where they hang out online, and then start answering the questions in the form of short blogs, short videos, a white paper—I actually ended up writing a book on physician home loans.”
Mettle didn’t even have a particular physician loan product at the time, but that didn’t stop him from having these conversations and identify the problems that people are having. Even if he didn’t have a solution for them immediately, he still wanted to educate them on the challenges that they were going to have, and creating content to reflect that.
Approaching finding a niche from the borrower’s perspective and honing in on their difficulties is more than just a business approach; it’s also more satisfying for an originator.
Mark Robertson, Encinitas branch manager and loan advisor with Caliber Home Loans, was also on the panel at Mastermind, and said that he truly feels more fulfilled if his borrowers truly understand the difficulties that they’re facing, or explaining options that may improve their overall financial situation. If that’s a niche product, all the better.
“It’s not that complicated. You take one idea, and go crazy,” he said, educating as many people as possible. “If you find that niche, implement tomorrow. Don’t make the excuses.”
There’s also nothing that says you have to have just one niche. The idea of a niche is a specialized area of expertise, but many originators have the capacity to have more than one niche, depending on their area and their team. Mettle’s team has about nine niches, he said, but they all follow the basic discovery process:
- Who is having a hard time getting financing?
- How can that financing process be less bumpy, clunky, and inconvenient?
- What is the product that they need?
- What questions do they have?
- How to answer those questions in a sharable format?
For example, people assume that doctors will have no problem getting a mortgage. In reality, they have a lot of specific concerns because of their In Mettle’s case, he found that doctors had difficulty because they had a lot of student loan debt, they didn’t want to pay MI because they had a minimal down payment right out of school, and they want to close with an employment contract three months before they take their first job as an attending.
“We figured out all those challenges that niche has, and we just started addressing them with solutions,” Mettle said. “We were serving well over 500 doctors a year before I ever had a doctor mortgage.”
Technology has changed the ecosystem of how leads flow, Mettle said. Originators have the capacity to go out and find borrowers who are running into these brick walls, rather than waiting for difficult leads to get funneled to them through partners. By providing information in a sharable format that answers questions people are asking, those people then become actual leads for an originator who can eventually be placed with a realtor. Mettle was fortunate in that his videos happened to show up in a lot of organic searches, but videos posted on social media have the potential to get just as many leads.
“It’s not the product, it’s the understanding of your clients and what their challenges are then creating a patchwork of solutions to get them through that,” he said.