Marketing To Lawyers

Most appraisers don't consider themselves professional salespeople or marketers. So when we say that in order to market to attorneys you need to un-learn everything you know about marketing yourself to lenders, you might think, "big deal."

But it is. Defaults and foreclosures are spiking in many areas of the country, and the problem will likely get worse, before it gets better.(pq)

You've heard the story, many homeowners took advantage of low initial rates on adjustable rate mortgages in the last several years. Most of these exotic loans had a reasonable monthly payment for the first two, three or five years, but now are adjusting upward. Sometimes by a lot.

Like it or not, defaults and foreclosures represent a burgeoning market for appraisers. Getting a foothold now will boost your business today and put you in the catbird seat in the next few years.

One way to position yourself for this new market is by marketing to local attorneys. Attorneys who handle debtor/creditor and bankruptcy law are often in a position to hire appraisers to establish the market value of real property.

When it comes to attorneys, the first thing to understand is that marketing to attorneys turns everything you know about marketing to lenders on its ear.

Attorneys generally don't care about fee, turn time or efficiency. Let's face it: most mortgage appraisals have become commodities. The guy who can do it for $25 less, two days faster or more securely over the Internet has an advantage in that world. Not with attorneys. They care that you're professional, reliable and believable. Believable? Yes, an attorney is going to size you up partly based on how you're likely to come off in a deposition or at trial.

So when you introduce yourself to a lawyer and ask for their business, don't tout your fee or turnaround. Be professional. Reassure the lawyer you have the expertise they looking for. Any foreclosure or REO experience you have will be a differentiator, too.

You're likely to be the better salesperson/marketer. Is this ever true when working with REALTORs® or mortgage originators? Doubtful. But if you think you don't like marketing, meet your local sole practitioner. As counterintuitive as it seems, you risk coming off as too salesy when you introduce yourself to a local attorney.

Focus on your expertise and the benefits you can provide - reliable valuations, thorough inspections, defensible opinions. People naturally want to work with service providers who are like them. If you've spent years working on mortgage appraisals almost exclusively, it's going to be a bit of a shift to start working for attorneys.

You have to find them. Every mortgage broker and loan officer has a Rolodex, database or LOS with appraisers plugged in to it. Relatively few attorneys will have a go-to appraiser they call when they have a need.

Check your local yellow pages for attorneys specializing in bankruptcy, debtor relief, debt collection or real estate. Search online on a database like Martindale-Hubbell, Hieros Gamos or Findlaw. (You may find sites like these and others where you can advertise your availability to lawyers in your area, too.) Look for lawyers appealing to debt-ridden homeowners.
Check AppraisalPress often for more tips on positioning yourself for new business opportunities.