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Alt-A Wholesaler Defunct

Heritage Plaza Mortgage closed

July 6, 2007


photo of Paula Parisot
Paula Parisot

MortgageDaily.com has confirmed the collapse of a California mortgage wholesaler and retailer best known for its Alt A products.

California Department of Corporations Director of Communications Mark Leyes confirmed with MortgageDaily.com that Heritage Plaza Mortgage has closed. The company is in the process of a closing audit with the agency.

Heritage had a total of 28 branch licenses on record, including 26 in California, one in University, Wash., and one in Salt Lake City.

MortgageDaily.com was originally tipped off about the closing in May by a former employee, but confirmation of the closing could not be immediately obtained.

Sheila Eshpour, one of the company's regional branch managers, said Heritage executives called her at home in March to instruct her to close her branch.

"At first I thought they were just closing my branch and eventually (found out) they were closing the company," she told MortgageDaily.com in a phone interview.

Just a year prior, when Eshpour took the position with Heritage at the Concord, Calif. branch, she said the company was generating mostly Alt-A products, to the tune of about $100 million a month in both retail and wholesale volume, and had more than 100 employees.

Eshpour had just eight employees left to terminate.

Things started turning sour in 2006 as the company became overwhelmed with repurchases, Eshpour explained.

And after 20 years in the business, Eshpour said she has seen the mess some brokers have left behind due to fraud, especially in the last 10 years.

"Nobody wanted to listen when we were talking about the mortgage bust, it was all about the quantity not the quality," she said. "And when I went to (Heritage), it was probably too late for them -- that's why they hired me, to clean up and rebuild the company."

According to state filings, Heritage, which also did business as LoanReady.com, was headquartered in Stockton and still has an active license on file from November 2002. In addition, Fred Gremel, one of the reported owners, has also carried a broker license dating back as far as 1987.

Gremel was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Paula Parisot is a MortgageDaily.com feature reporter and a blogger at CloserBlog.com who has also worked in the mortgage industry.

e-mail Paula at: [email protected]

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