Business for residential appraisers started slowing down in mid-2003. While your competitors are still reacting to short term increases and declines in business, now is the time to plan for the future.
The residential lender business is notoriously volatile, with wide swings in demand. You can keep a steadier flow of business by diversifying your lender clients.
Refis vs. Purchases
Lender clients who do a high volume of loans for purchases are a much more stable source of business. Refi volume is what drives the volatility of lender work. Look for clients who target the purchase market. Often, they have been around awhile (through the 1994-1997 crash) and have close ties to local real estate agents. Check mortgage data for purchases in your area to see who does the lending.
Real estate agents and brokers are excellent sources of referrals for mortgage lenders. Meet them at local association of Realtor meetings and by going on the weekly "caravan" of open homes.