Upon fleeing the wreck that was Enron Corp. after 6 years of corporate communications positions within Fortune 10 Corporations, I realized I needed a new line of work. A sales position opened up for me as a Title Sales AE here in San Jose CA. Thereafter, mortgage sales positions of ever-increasing seniority and scope began to come to me in rapid fashion. This was in direct proportion to the passion I brought to the table and to the service I provided to my clients. Once I learned that proportional ROI, I could never do anything else again. Just think ? mobile, connected electronically and in relationships ? I could never go back to ?driving a cube? again. I needed to figure out a way to make sure that I was presenting a unique and valuable sales proposition. ?He Who Loves Cherries Soon Learns to Climb? ? ancient Chinese proverb. Within wholesale and later retail mortgage banking experiences, I was doing the ?complicated? loans when everyone else was being all ?NINJA?d? back in the ?good old bad old days?. Things like Pledged Asset Lending, One-Time Close Custom Construction, Asset-Dissipation Loans, Trust/LLC/Corporate Lending, Foreign National Lending, and Structured/Laddered Financing were all ?too much paper? for the lazy folks to get behind back then. That left ME to become known as a niche player. NICHE NOTE: My recommendation to all of you out there who desire to work in the niche lending marketplace is to become an expert in all things FHA while you pick up speed in the niche market. The first few years can be frustrating if you?re doing it on your own. How to Navigate the Stormy Seas of Niche Residential & Commercial Lending: OK. You?ve got a great package on your desk. What do you do with it? Other vague resources can give you a few places to check out, but you most likely don?t have an established relationship with these resources, someone who can advise you and help you keep your errors to a minimum. You need a mentor. Make friends with seasoned commercial lenders. Use online networking tools to learn as much as you can about how these seas are navigated. NICHE NOTE: Get familiar with the following concepts: Executive Summary, Personal Financial Statement (PFS), Expression of Interest (EOI), Letter of Interest (LOI), Non-Compete Non-Disclosure Agreement (NCND), Exclusivity Agreement (if you are DIRECT to the client you need this RIGHT AWAY before you shop), Consulting Agreement, and last but not least ? the dreaded ?daisy chain? ? the success of your deal is in an inverse proportion to your success. The more cooks in the kitchen, the worse the sauce, I say. Climb that cherry tree, if you really like cherries! ?At each stage of the game, and with each new rung position on the ladder, make sure you update your database, reflect on your connections, and decide what your focus will be when you?re positioning yourself for battle on the High Seas of International Niche Financing? Niche Lending Providers: Just as in the conventional lending world, the niche market has various classes of residential and commercial funding providers. NICHE NOTE: Today?s standard for custom SFR construction is 70% LTC ? NOT LTV. BANKS: There?re many mortgage banking niche products in the conforming world (more on the way, too). These are the government products for the most part. Some direct lenders will offer their own ?competition buster? conforming products. Other national and international banks have what they call ?Private Mortgage Banking? divisions ? this is where the banks do their magic super jumbo products for high net worth individuals. PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS: There are many, many private funding firms around the country. Some deal with their own portfolio, others have uncommon access to international trusts and institutions. The may have ?hard?, or better yet, what I call ?jello money? ? not quite bank rate/fee but still not SO hard as to be considered hard money. The emphasis here is not on full doc/credit qualification, rather on collateral or ?skin in the game?. HEDGE/PENSION/TRUST/INSURANCE FUNDS: This is where the HUGE projects go ? into the BILLIONS and beyond! Each fund or entity has its own appetite for difference niche deals ? be it Green Energy, Humanitarian, Spec, Custom Estate, Developments, Mines, Accounts Receivables? SELLERS: We can?t forget the seller of the destination property. When we can?t find conventional or even exotic funding sources, a good consultant will approach the seller to see if seller-financing can be arranged. I recently came across a $4MM Knob Hill SF Condo deal where the seller is willing to carry 80%! ?What You Know, Who You Know? ? Putting that Last Best Deal to Good Use: You?re only as good, and as intelligent, as your last deal. What does this mean to you? And by last deal, is that necessarily closed and funded? Hopefully so. But in the niche marketplace, there?s a lot of sweat equity in climbing that ladder. Make sure your transactions are rock solid. Take a look at that nasty, three-times-faxed executive summary and make sure the loan adds up before you use up a ?duh? marker with your funding source. If for some reason the deal doesn?t close ? what?d you learn? The things you?ll learn, and the people you?ll meet each increase your What/Who factor ? your W/W factor will then give you the knowledge to close the next one, as well as decrease the degree of separation from you and the actual principal party. NICHE NOTE: MAKE DARN SURE THAT YOU GET ?ONE WHAT AND ONE WHO? OUT OF ANYTHING YOU DO! MAKE IT YOUR MISSION TO GET A WHAT AND A WHO EVERY SINGLE DAY. MAKE COLLECTING THE W/W?s A NEW PASSION. USE INTERNET BUSINESS NETWORKING SITES TO MEET NEW PEOPLE, ASK QUESTIONS, AND INCREASE YOUR POSITION AS A TRUSTED, VALUED, AND BELOVED ADVISOR TO YOUR CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE. IT MAY TAKE TIME BUT IF YOU STICK TO IT YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. REMEMBER TO CLIMB FOR THOSE CHERRIES, OR THEY?LL ALL BE PICKED OVER WHEN YOU GET TO THE TREE. Jack Williams lives in California?s Silicon Valley with his wife and 3 children, and loves good music, good company, and spicy Szechuan food. Jack can be reached for questions and relationship referrals at his website http://www.gotrates.net and is often working when other people are not.