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Branches Continue Growth

Recent mortgage branch activity

April 6, 2011


Many mortgage branch operations are maintaining a brisk pace of expansion, with several capitalizing on their government programs. Mortgage branch growth is also being pursued by financial institutions.

Houston-based America's Choice Home Loans, for example, recently opened in Houston what it refers to as "branch # 1011."

"We have been hearing for some time that a lot of companies are telling their smaller branch offices to 'grow or go,'" said Larry Lobb, America's Choice's managing director. "Some producing branch managers are apparently being asked to stop originating, and that does not make sense to us. We believe there is a niche for that type of operation, and we also believe we know how to make it work."

"Our industry," added the company's director of national production, Jonathan Fowler, "has been hit with a number of significant changes, and the companies that can adapt will not only survive, but can actually flourish. We want strong, experienced branch managers that originate loans."

America's Choice, which says it is HUD-, VA- and USDA-approved, changed its name from Iwayloan L.P. last November as it began its expansion drive.

Dallas-based Southwest Funding recently opened new offices in Albuquerque, N.M., and in Floresville and Longview, Texas. The expansion goes beyond the Southwest, with new offices being opened across the nation and experienced mortgage professionals being recruited. The lender -- which specializes in FHA, VA, conventional, jumbo and reverse mortgages -- now has existing offices or plans for offices in 14 states, according to its Web site.

Primary Residential Mortgage Inc. picked up 1st Rate Lending as a branch in Green Bay, Wis. 1st rate was founded in the 1990s by William Thayse, who passed the company on to sons Jordan and Justin.

PRMI was launched 1998 by President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Zitting. The Salt Lake City-based company reports that it operates 275 offices and employs more than 2,000 people. It is reportedly licensed in 48 states.

A branch was opened by Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. in Red Bank, N.J., an announcement Monday said. The office is led by Vincent J. Daino, who has reportedly been in real estate since 1993.

Fairway, which was founded in 1996 by Steve Jacobson and Dean Anderson, operates from Sun Prairie, Wis. The lender reports that 1,000 employees are operating from 106 locations across the country. Residential volume last year was $3.94 billion.

Over in
Columbia, Mo., -- which focuses on VA loans -- has launched a branch program to provide local partners with the tools and expertise to individual brokers and small to midsize companies to better serve military families.

And Dallas-based Supreme Lending, a full service mortgage broker-banker with licenses in 40 states and more than 80 branches throughout the U.S., said it is opening an average of seven new branches every month. The company now is licensed in at least 34 states, according to its Web site.

Still looking for managers for new branches is Horsham, Pa.-based Gateway Funding Diversified Mortgage Services LP, according to Lisa Hammond, senior vice president of business development. The firm now has 52 offices in 13 states and is licensed in 26 other states.

Meanwhile, Houston-based Allied Home Mortgage relocated its Lafayette, Ind., branch into larger space. Allied Home, which has 10 other branches in Indiana and additional offices in 34 other states, specializes in FHA, VA and Rural Development loans and also offers conventional and reverse mortgages as well as remodeling and construction loans.

Banks, like mortgage companies, also have been expanding their mortgage lending branches.

Tulsa-based Bank of Oklahoma, that state's largest bank, has opened a separate lending office in Tulsa, where it plans to have a staff of six mortgage bankers.

Seattle-based HomeStreet Bank has opened a new home loan center in Lynnwood, Wash. And the bank is evaluating opening additional home loan centers, particularly in the greater Seattle area, according to Rich Bennion, residential lending director. The bank, which offers a full line of conventional, FHA and VA mortgages, currently has 30 branch and mortgage offices.

And Albany, Georgia-based Heritage Bank of the South has expanded its mortgage division with the opening of new mortgage production offices in Valdosta and McDonough, Georgia. The bank previously had expanded its operations in south Georgia with the opening of an office in Statesboro.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Colonial National Mortgage has opened a new branch in Lakeway, Texas, that will serve as a satellite to Colonial National's high producing South Austin branch, according to Lea Holubec, that branch's manager. It brings to 19 Colonial National's Texas branches and to 23 its total branches.

Miami Lakes, Fla.-based J. I. Kislak Mortgage LLC has expanded its presence in Florida with the opening of a mortgage loan origination office in Melbourne.

Southeast Mortgage, based in Lawrenceville, Ga., expanded its operations in the Southeast with its merger with Citizens Fidelity Mortgage Corp., adding six offices in the metro Atlanta area to its existing nine Georgia offices.

Arnold Martin was named regional branch manager of Southeast Mortgage, which announced this week its eighth office opened in Georgia -- in Fayetteville. Martin will run the new branch.

Michael Lyons was named branch manager of Embrace Home Loans' Frederick, Md., branch. Embrace, based in Rockville, Md., reportedly operates 20 retail branches. The company reports more than $12 billion in home-loan production during the past 12 months.

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Jerry DeMuth is an award winning journalist who has been reporting for four decades.

e-mail Jerry at [email protected]

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