Commercial Loans and Fun Blog

Commercial Loans, Referral Fees, and Marketing Leverage

Posted by George Blackburne on Thu, Sep 12, 2019

Before we get into today's commercial loan training lesson, I have an interesting story for you.  Yesterday a newbie commercial loan broker contacted me, and he said, "I desperately need your fee agreement for a deal that is close to closing, but I don't have a banker to trade."

I told him, "Just call your local bank and ask to speak with a commercial real estate loan officer.  Every bank has one.  Collect his address, phone, and email address, and voila, you're done!"  Twenty minutes later, he sent me my commercial loan officer and lived happily ever after.

You can trade a commercial real estate loan officer, working at a bank or a credit union (no other types of commercial lenders please), for your choice of (1) an Income Property Underwriting Manual; (2) a Commercial Mortgage Marketing Course; (3) a Fee Agreement; or (4) a regional copy of The Blackburne List of 750 commercial lenders.


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Even if you are not a commercial loan broker, this particular training article has some lessons that you might find very helpful, especially the part about marketing leverage further below.

Before we go any further, it is important to understand that it is illegal to pay a referral fee on a residential one-to-four family dwelling loan, where the purpose of the loan is to either buy the property or to build it.  What about residential refinances or business-purpose residential loans?  I dunno.  Anybody else out there know?

Such referral fees on residential loans are called kickbacks, and the Feds will go absolutely bat-snot crazy if you violate RESPA.  They do not want people steering unsophisticated and trusting residential borrowers to higher-cost lenders.


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Referral fees on commercial loans, however, are perfectly legal.  You do NOT have to be licensed.

If you are not licensed, however, be absolutely sure that you do not try to negotiate loan terms.  For example, you cannot say, "The bank will probably charge you 2.75% to 3.5% over five-year Treasuries."  Even though this is true, don't say it!  It might be considered negotiating terms.  Just work on a name and number referral basis, and you will be fine.

The standard referral fee for commercial loan leads is 20% of the lender's loan fee.  This is what Blackburne & Sons pays.


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Marketing Leverage:

I have a business buddy who is spending a fortune advertising his mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments using Google AdWords.  Whenever I use Google to look up “supermodels in swimsuits” (haha, just kidding?), my buddy’s advertisement pops up. 

First of all, kudos to Google for knowing that I am in the commercial real estate business.  Kudos also to Google for showing my buddy’s very relevant advertisement.  Pop quiz, Google: "Where do I (old man Blackburne) stand on gun control?”  I am sure that Big Brother knows.

But holy cramps, this kind of advertising is incredibly expensive.  My buddy was moaning recently about the cost.  He needs to start using marketing leverage.


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Marketing leverage is the technique of advertising to people who themselves are advertising like crazy.  By doing so, your advertising dollar is multiplied or leveraged. These guys who are advertising themselves have lots of leads to refer out.


Back in the days of snail mail - now called lumpy mail - it cost me over $1 (nowadays $2) to send each lumpy mail piece.  I quickly learned that adverting directly to the public for commercial loans was horribly ineffective.  But what ended up working like a charm was advertising to mortgage brokers, bankers, commercial brokers (real estate brokers who sell commercial property), and property managers (with whom I had a prior working relationship).

Each of these guys was spending at least $400 per month (today maybe $700) advertising for his own business.  I could reach each one for only $1 per month, and if they got a subprime commercial loan request, they would bring it to me.  Therefore my $1 was able to reach $400 worth of borrowers.  I enjoyed marketing leverage.


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Today we can reach referrals sources by email, which is almost cost-free.  As you know, advertising to referral sources is still my preferred method, even though TONS of guys are now doing it.

I try to separate myself from the other guys by rewarding my loyal readers with funny pics, jokes, and helpful practice tips.  You guys just know, whenever you get a blog article or an email from me, that there will be some kind of reward for opening it.

But if I was my buddy, and I wanted to use expensive Google AdWords, I would build a list of referral sources and submit the list to Google.  Did you know that you can do that?  You can give Google or Facebook a list, and they will regularly throw up your advertisement to them.  In addition to referral sources like mortgage brokers, bankers, commercial real estate brokers and property managers, I would also throw in as many high-net-worth commercial property investors as I knew.  This list of actual investors would probably be much smaller.


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Then I would only pay for AdWord ads to these special guys, not the general public. Most of them are advertising themselves for commercial real estate clients, and I would achieve marketing leverage.


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Topics: marketing leverage, commercial loans

Marketing Leverage - Multiply Your Commercial Lending by 400

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Oct 4, 2011

If you are a commercial mortgage broker or a commercial lender, you can supercharge your describe the imagevolume of new commercial loans by using marketing leverage.

Just imagine that you had a magic machine that multiplied every one of your marketing dollars by 400.  For example, if you had just $100 to spend on marketing for commercial loans, this magic machine would suddenly turn that $100 marketing budget into a $4,000 marketing budget.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Such a magic machine actually exists.  It’s not really a machine but rather a technique to take advantage of marketing leverage.

Here is that magical technique:

Advertise to the companies that are currently advertising.

Here’s how it works.  The typical residential mortgage broker spends around $400 per month on marketing for mortgages.   If you can reach this residential mortgage broker every three weeks with a $1 mail piece, and if he refers you every commercial loan request generated by his $400 marketing budget, then you have just achieved a 400:1 marketing leverage.

You can also achieve marketing leverage by mailing to banks and other commercial lenders.  The typical commercial lender spends far more than $400 per month advertising for loans. 

In theory, you could achieve similar marketing leverage working with a commercial real estate brokerage company sending newsletters or email newsletters to commercial property owners.  If you could somehow hitch a ride in their newsletters, in return for a promise to pay them referral fees, you will have achieved substantial marketing leverage.

So look for mortgage companies and mortgage lenders that are advertising heavily for mortgage loans.  These will be the guys with the most commercial leads to refer your way.

Did you find this article interesting?  Why not make our blog, Commercial Real Estate Loan Tips, one of your home pages.  I try to add a new article every other day.

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Topics: marketing leverage

Marketing Leverage for Commercial Real Estate Loans

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Sep 29, 2008

Advertise to Companies Who Are Spending Big Money to Market for Mortgages

If you're a commercial mortgage broker, you probably need more leads on borrowers seeking commercial loans. Eventually you will discover that marketing directly to the public for commercial real estate loans just doesn't work. If you send out 10,000 mail pieces, you'll usually only get around six leads and no closings.

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So what does work? Residential mortgage brokers can be a wonderful source of referrals. Just pay them 20% of your loan fee in return for a name and telephone number of a prospective commercial real estate loan borrower.

Here's why advertising to residential mortgage brokers is so effective. The typical residential mortgage broker spends about $400 per month on some form of advertising - perhaps a small classifed ad in the Money to Loan section of the newspaper, a big Yellow Pages ad or a display ad in the Pennysaver or similar free grocery store magazine.

This advertisment by the residential mortgage broker probably reaches thousands of potential borrowers every month. Now if this residential mortgage broker is giving you all of his commercial loan referrals, this means that with a single $1 mail piece to the mortgage broker, you are reaching thousands of potential borrowers.

If the residential mortgage broker is spending $400 per month, then your $1 mail piece is getting leveraged by a whopping 400 times. This is marketing leverage.

Do you need to place a commercial real estate loan right now? You can submit your commercial real estate loan to 750 different commercial mortgage lenders in just four minutes using the C-Loans Commercial Mortgage Lender Portal.

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, marketing leverage, commercial marketing, referral fees, commercial financing, commercial mortgage