The mortgage lending business has changed dramatically over the last 7 years. It started with the mortgage meltdown of 2007, and it has been a rocky loan ride ever since. In fact, the mortgage business has simply never been the same.

A lot of things that affect the mortgage market have been reeking havoc on the ability for loan officers to acquire business. Mortgage applications are at the lowest levels in 14 years. Foreclosures are way down, and many homeowners are not selling because they are either underwater, at the break even point, or it just simply doesn’t make sense to sell their homes in this economy because they would have no place to buy if they did sell. The lack of equity, foreclosures, and homes for sale equates to low mortgage activity.

In order to survive today, you have to adapt to market changes and the ways you do business. You will have to work twice as hard for a fraction of the business and money you may have been making before. This is the cold hard reality of being a loan officer in the current market.

There are no short cuts or magical lead systems that will help you become a top producing loan officer. In order to succeed in 2014 and beyond, you will need to develop a marketing strategy that will help you stand out in this tough economy. This is easier said than done, due to the fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason why the market is so topsy-turvy.

Let’s face the facts. There is only so much business to go around at the moment. This creates a massive problem because many loan officers are going after the same business as their competitors. That is why you may want to start thinking about becoming an expert in a specific niche.

Niche Loan Products and Marketing

If you want to become a top producing loan officer, it is all about leads. Without leads to pursue and clients to add to your business, you won’t make any headway. You need to go to where the customers are, and explain to them quickly and accurately why they should use your services. There are a lot of loan officers out there – why should they choose you?

That question isn’t all that easy to answer, so you might need to think long and hard about what it is that makes you different from the rest. If you are offering all the same loan products as the big banks and lenders, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

In this type of market if you are not on the a big bank’s mortgage team, it is probably best that you focus on niche loan products that can help you stand out from your competitors.

So, what are some hot niche mortgage products you can offer as a loan officer?

Examples of some great mortgage niche products in this current market would be purchase money loans, VA loans, FHA loans, reverse mortgages, manufactured home loans, and after foreclosure or short sale mortgage programs. In each of these niches, there are many loan officers who are targeting one or more of these loan programs by focusing their marketing to reach borrowers in their chosen niche. A lot of them are doing very well because of this choice.

I have always been big on niche marketing. Before I started this niche website LoanSafe to help people with their mortgage problems, I had operated another site back in 2005-2007 that was focused on manufactured home loans. This was back when the mortgage market was actually thriving. I clearly remember loan officers literally throwing these leads in the trash or laughing at these borrowers. No one wanted to help them in order to make loans to these people because the loan amounts were so low and commissions too small. They would rather make $10,000-$20,000 on one loan, which many of them did, but I still chose to focus my niche on manufactured home loans because there were very few loan officers who had specialized in these types of properties. This ended up being a good choice and I made a heck of a lot of money with very little competition.

Another example of thriving with a niche mortgage program would be my loan officer friend and colleague, Jon Maddux. He is the co-founder of AfterForeclosure.com. A company that specializes in helping borrowers obtain a mortgage after foreclosure or short sale. He is thriving right now, while almost every other loan officer I know is fighting over loan scraps or simply getting out of business. Jon had also started another successful niche mortgage distress company back in 2008 called YouWalkAway.com. Hence, his decisions to focus on mortgage niches have paid off well for him.

In this market, you have to be smart like Jon Maddux and think outside the normal mortgage box if you want to become a top producing loan officer. In addition to these facts, you also need to communicate effectively, offer awesome client services, and be the go to professional for mortgages.

Here are some more tips to help you stand out from the crowd –

Be the mortgage market expert – Are you a loan officer who has their hand on the pulse of the market and understands all the subtle changes in rates, etc.? Position yourself in the market as someone who is a local lending expert and who will have the answers to all questions your clients may have.

Always effectively communicate – If you feel like you are especially good at communicating with your clients, highlight that in your marketing efforts. Many buyers like to be talked through the whole process, so they will value finding a lender who is willing to work closely with them and who won’t disappear for weeks at a time.

One of the most common mistakes when marketing is not telling the customer directly what you have to benefit them. All they care about is buying a house in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible. If you can highlight how your experience and knowledge as a loan officer will help them reach that goal, you will be a big step closer to gaining a client. It is a safe bet, that the top producing loan officers in any area are the ones who focus first on the needs of their clients.

Be a proven winner – For loan officers who have been in business for a long time in one area, leveraging your past successes is a great idea. Highlight your lending accomplishments and talk about your track record within the community. Most people trust someone who has been there, done that – so use experience to your marketing advantage.

While you might think it is a long road to the top of the lending game, it doesn’t have to be. With hard work and a smart approach to your marketing efforts, growth in the business may be closer than you think.

Moe Bedard
My name is Maurice "Moe" Bedard. I am the founder of America's #1 Mortgage Forum, LoanSafe.org. My online work has been featured in the New York Times, LA Times, Fox Business, and many other media publications.