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9 Net Branch Casualties Uncovered

Mortgage News

A quarter of the nation’s bank failures so far this year were institutions located in the state of Georgia. An investigation by Mortgage Daily found that nine net branch operators that had been recruiting during the past three years have virtually disappeared. Meanwhile, the number of correspondent casualties continued to climb.

After obtaining an order from the Superior Court of DeKalb County, the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance took possession of Global Commerce Bank pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia, Section 7-1-150(a). The regulation authorizes the state to seize a state-regulated bank when it is “either insolvent or operating in an unsafe or unsound condition to transact its business; is operating in violation of any court order, statute, rule or regulation; or requests the department to take possession of its business and property.”

Global Commerce was founded in 1995. At the end of last year, it employed 29 people. Its residential and multifamily loan holdings were each less than $1 million, while commercial mortgages on its books totaled $34 million and construction-and-land-development loan holdings were $2 million.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which was appointed receiver of the Doraville, Ga., bank, conducted a secret bidding process and awarded the winning bid to Metro City Bank. That deal calls for Metro to assume all of Global Commerce’s $117 million in total deposits and acquire $79 million of its $144 million in total assets.

The bank failure’s cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund is estimated at $18 million.

Of the 12 FDIC-insured bank failures so far this year, three were in Georgia.

Aurora Bank has decided to close its residential lending unit, according to a notice on its website. However, the bank will continue to service current borrowers. No further correspondent registrations or locks will be accepted, and lock extensions will not be granted.

Aurora filed a Workers Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act notice with the state of Missouri indicating that 146 employees in Chesterfield, Mo., will be laid off on April 30.

Aurora’s exit from correspondent lending follows similar recent moves by Ally Financial Inc., Bank of America Home Loans, MetLife Home Loans and PHH Mortgage Corp. Other firms to close correspondent operations include Merit Mortgage Services, Sidus Financial LLC, O2Funding and Genworth Financial Home Equity Access.

Including banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders, Mortgage Daily has tracked to demise of 19 mortgage-related operations so far in 2012.

An investigation into a number of net branch operations covered over the years by Mortgage Daily found that several have quietly gone out of business.

In March 2009, Centurymark Home Loans was touting its growing branch network — which stood at nine at the time. Today, the company’s three websites — www.centurymarkbranch.com, www.centurymarkmtg.com and www.centurymarkusa.com — have all been taken down. In addition, no listing for an active office could be found, and there are no active registrations for the company on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry. The last activity for the company appears to have been during the first-half 2009.

Fidelity Reverse Mortgage Executive Vice President John Neumeier told MortgageDaily.com in April 2008 that the company planned to hire as many as 10 new associates a month. At the time, the Denver-based company, which was founded in October 2005, operated branches in seven states. But Fidelity’s website has since gone dark, and its only NMLS registration, in Washington, was surrendered in February 2009.

However, parent Fidelity First Home Mortgage continues to offer reverse mortgages on its website.

A network of four branches was previously reported by First Capital Mortgage LLC. Now, the company’s website is dead, while the NMLS indicates that its last license — in Nebraska — was surrendered in April 2010. An Internet search for information about the company leads to Mortgage Unlimited LLC, though any relationship between the two firms is unclear.

Both of Key Financial Corp.’s website addresses — www.keybranch.com and www.keyrefi.com — are out of order. NMLS lists 36 branches for Clearwater, Fla.-based Key, though their licenses either expired or were surrendered by 2010. The Baltimore office for the Department of Housing and Urban Development terminated the company’s origination agreement in October 2010.

In 2010, Nations Funding Source Inc. claimed to be “the world’s largest mortgage broker.” At the time, the company said it operated in 47 states. Now, the company’s website, www.nfsite.com, is no longer operational and the NMLS shows that none of its 17 branches are authorized to conduct business. In July 2011, Nations Funding and owner Sookrani Sattie Narain settled allegations of violating the Georgia Residential Mortgage Act and agency rules. The agreement included of the loss of its Georgia license and Narain’s promise not to seek another license for five years.

NetMore America Inc., which disclosed in March 2011 that it slashed operations, has apparently ended operations altogether. Its website, www.netmoreamerica.com, is dead; none of its 59 branches listed on NMLS are authorized to conduct business; and the company’s president and chief executive officer, Mark Freedle, now works as an executive vice president for Interbank Mortgage Co.

Sage Credit Co. advertised with Mortgage Daily in 2007 and 2008 as part of its campaign to recruit mortgage brokers. Now its website is out of order and it has no branches authorized to conduct business, according to NMLS. Its last remaining license expired in March 2009. The company had faced state regulatory actions in California, Maine and New York. It was also sued by LendingTree in 2008 over allegations that it gained password access to LendingTree’s database and stole mortgage leads.

Vanguard M&T Inc., which did business as Vanguard Mortgage & Title Inc., was in the business of acquiring mortgage brokerages. The Pittsburgh-based company previously employed 170 people in 25 branches. It had been unable to fund new loans in 2008 after being put into a net funding situation due to its failure to pay interest on its lines-of-credit. Its problems appeared solved when Taylor Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. stepped in to fund its business.

But the Mortgage-Lender-Implode-O-Meter reported that Vanguard’s board of directors distributed a message that the company had officially ceased operations as of Sept. 19, 2008. Its Connecticut license was revoked in October 2008.

Mortgage Daily’s Mortgage Branch Directory currently lists 53 active branch recruiters.

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