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SunTrust Closes HEL Broker Unit

Wholesale Flex Equity Line program discontinued

July 25, 2008

By staff

SunTrust Mortgage Inc. is closing its wholesale equity lending channel. But the company has no plans to end its wholesale lending business.

The Richmond, Va.-based company advised mortgage brokers today that it has stopped accepting new business for its Flex Equity Line program and other equity products.

Any loan packages already submitted must close by Aug. 29.

"We are constantly reviewing our product and business mix to ensure it is competitive for clients and consistent with our responsibilities to shareholders," SunTrust spokesman Hugh Suhr told in a statement. "We are fine tuning some aspects of our efforts by eliminating equity lending through the wholesale line of business at SunTrust Mortgage."

Around 30 back-office processing jobs will be impacted from the move, Suhr said. However, some of those employees can apply for other open positions.

"So we are anticipating that the actual number impacted will be significantly lower," he said.

SunTrust Bank Equity Wholesale, founded in 1996, reported $1.4 billion in 2006 originations, according to the company's Web site. The sales force was reported at 16 people and the company operated in 12 states.

"Although this product has served us well in the past, we have determined that equity lending through this channel does not meet our strategic objectives going forward," the spokesman said.

Last week, SunTrust Mortgage advised brokers that it was eliminating its construction-to-permanent program.

Despite the closings, Suhr noted that the SunTrust is still committed to its wholesale lending channels. The company reported $3.2 billion in mortgage broker originations and $1.4 billion in correspondent purchases during the second quarter.

As of March 31, SunTrust reports 1,366 mortgage correspondent customers and 13,461 mortgage broker customers.

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